First Postulate of Socionomics

Spontaneous social order (civil society) is the basis for interpersonal development and social harmony, and vice versa.

For more on the First Postulate of Socionomics see the November 10, 17, and 20, 1998, inputs at The Cactus Club dialogue webpages.

Comments on the FPS:

1. (David R. Ferguson): The First Postulate of Socionomics is a simple statement of a series of complex relationships. Interpersonal development in the form of more trust, toleration, cooperation, and mutual respect is created or destroyed over time according to the quality of human association. Evolutionary psychology helps us understand the impediments as well as the forces in favor of interpersonal development. In particular, there are explanations for the self destructive urge to form multiple political units which then inevitably confict with each other and result in internal conflicts within each system. On the other hand, there is an explanation for our tendency to engage in positive reciprocal relationships.

Reinforcing the natural tendency toward reciprocity is the civilizing influence of spontaneous order. Complexity theory helps in a general understanding of this concept. Austrian economics and bionomics fill in many details. Spontaneous social order requires no central planning or social engineering and yet paradoxically leads to a more orderly and progressive level of social organization. Politics is the antithesis of spontaneous social order and, as such, inadvertently tends to neutralize its benefits. To achieve the benefits of spontaneous social order, which is also referred to as civil society, requires the application of a relatively simple set of social restrictions. An analogy may help to illuminate this point. Automobile traffic is not centrally planned as is air traffic. Most would agree that a "ground traffic controller" would be an inefficient and probably disasterous way to organize our daily car travel. This "auto" organization occurs spontaneously but only when certain simple, but well understood and accepted, restrictions apply. The main ones that come to mind are (1) drive on the righthand (or lefthand in some countries) side of the road, and (2) stop on red. The rest is spontaneous. The social organization analogy to limitations (1)and (2) would be the legal protection of property rights including contract law. All that is then needed for order to occur spontaneously is the pursuit of self interest. The First Postulate states that this process requires and reinforces a certain level of interpersonal development and social harmony--- a level that is considerably advanced from our present state of social evolution. Of course social order and harmony can never be universal until humans become angels but what we can expect to obtain is more interpersonal development, not less, and better social harmony, not worse. Pursuing perfection with coercive methods (such as taxation and regulation), instead of accepting our limitations, has lead to a politicized society. This society is unfortunately a very effective negative feedback system limiting the growth of interpersonal development and social harmony while trying to promote the very thing that it tends to destroy. The irony here is that as the system creates more and more havoc (such as trying to improve morality and control prices) people usually call for even more of the same bad medicine. I attribute this self destructive behavior to a lack of education which then makes people vulnerable to manipulation by the power hungry and other idealistic but underinformed leaders. The fact that social harmony and interpersonal development occur spontaneously is mainly due to an economic concept called gains from trade. When a buyer values something more than was paid for it and a seller values it less than was paid, the result is called gains from trade. It is our incentive to engage in exchange which is, in turn, the prerequisite for specialization which, in turn, results in the economic benefits of comparative advantage. It is all summed up nicely with two simple statements that normally occur after a transaction. "Thank-you. Thank-you." is a common verbal exchange after an exchange takes place. Both parties gain and this gain is a generator of trust, toleration, cooperation, and mutual respect. The price system, in all its marvelous economic manifestations, is sufficient to produce coordination in economic activities (study microeconomics and Austrian economics for a fuller explanation). However, personal development, based on spiritual growth, must precede interpersonal development. It is the foundation for obtaining all the benefits that society can make possible as we try to interact together in the most productive and rewarding ways. Eliminating legal coercion, although not sufficient, is a necessary requirement for moving toward our highest possible level of interpersonal development and social harmony.

Ultimately peace, justice, and liberty are the natural consequences of a spiritually growing and evolving combination of individuals who are free to live their lives and learn from their mistakes.