2.a.9 – Is culture linked to the group?

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January 15, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti


Is culture linked to the group?

Let’s examine the case of a population of herds of monkeys and suppose they are culturally isolated; a new cultural variant appeared in one of them, as a new signal of danger, could expand quickly throughout the group, but at this point will stop for their cultural isolation: for further expansion, we should wait until the flock, becoming increasingly large, splits into two smaller groups. A negative variant lead the group towards extinction while a positive change foster its growth and multiplication. This case is the combination of two modes of transmission of culture we have already dealt with (the family tradition and the free dissemination) and deserves to be considered separately because these genes are linked to cultural survival of the group: they are not independent, they play in the community team and not in the individual one; they are a social patrimony but do not care about the individual if not in relation with the community. The genetic equivalent is given again by bees and ants: they do not hesitate to sacrifice their lives to protect their community at every hint of danger, they reproduce by indirect way, their genes play everyone in the team of the community and pass to the next generation when the hive is reproduced: the bees live for the hive and not vice versa, and for the same reason, the same is true for our cells. This form of culture can be defined as culture of subordination to the community.
A total cultural isolation is a very rare case; it is very frequent instead that a cultural component can’t easily leave the group, so that its spreading is mainly entrusted to the community reproduction; in this case, it will be subjected to a selection similar to the case of total isolation.
For most of its history, mankind has lived in tribes with a significant cultural isolation and even today the culture of subordination to the group is an integral part of our cultural heritage: the patriotism and nationalism guide us towards the ultimate sacrifice for the homeland; the hero is a warrior figure honored in the vast majority of cultures. In the industrial age, things seem to be even worse: in the Nazi period, the culture of citizen who lives for the State was so taken to the extreme that, for the good of the State, i.e. its production and war capacities, it was politically settled that doctors had to suppress the German children of poor health, obviously without their parents knowing it, to avoid riots and protests harmful to the State itself. Conceptions of this type are actually very old: it is known that in ancient Sparta babies were examined to determine if they were promising soldiers, and if not, were eliminated. After this selection, the whole life was still conceived on the basis of servicing the homeland as military.
But the culture of subordination to the community has developed also for economic as well as military needs: the first industrial development soon did lead to the theory that the exploitation of the workers was a necessary sacrifice for the welfare of society and the country’s economic development; slavery in the United States was justified in a very similar way.
A similar model of cultural diffusion can be found even in small subgroups of a great community: the development of a new technology will support the company that has produced it, which in turn will spread it for commercial purposes, a technology that does not increase the business volume does not help the company and it will not be spread; here it is a cultural phenomenon, the new technology, linked to the survival of its company and vice versa.
Companies are small communities, who defend their own survival by fierce competition in the environment called market and then it is no coincidence that in the successful companies there is a common culture of dedication spread through the employees. This culture is rewarded by natural selection made by the competition and, in its evolution, leads to the exploitation of employees and, after that, even of the owners: it is now a classic the figure of the successful entrepreneur that devotes his life to work, sacrificing leisure and family; he has identified its survival with that of its business: entrepreneurial success has therefore taken the place of the genetic success, and personal welfare has been replaced by the company welfare.




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