You know what, I agree a lot with this view, though we tend to have a culture that sees these things as coming from outside themselves instead of realizing these are only possible when done from the inside out, as you implied by using the word cooperation.Quote by: Austin_P
Here are some areas where these ideas become sidetracked and destructive:
1) "Small town values" are a result of the morals of the people there living in that environment. Sadly, even small town cultures will feel pressure to change over time.
The largest difference is that people now have much more of an ability to move around and form ever changing relationships with others. 200 years ago, you probably likely to die within 20 miles of where you were born and depending on where you lived, your entire life might have passed only interacting with 500 different people the entire time. Obviously under these circumstances many qualities of society would be different ... your neighborhood associations would be close to a lifelong partnership. You couldn't cause problems in the neighborhood and simply move to a different city as easily, and even then gossip could follow you. On the other hand, life was tougher and likely often required assistance from others at times to get by so building close relationships was likely not simply a luxury but almost a necessity. Also anything happening to others in this environment is more directly seen and empathized with. If your neighbor is harmed, there's more empathy for that person that if the same happened to someone you've never met in a distant town. So, in many ways not too different than a large family, everyone felt a greater instinctive desire to protect others in their community.
It's a sad fact that trying to apply these same principles within a large and continually varying modern society is likely to do more harm than good to the people attempting to artificially recreate these traits. You can see many ways these values could be abused by people who simply 'move on' after taking advantage of these traits in others. I'm not saying people couldn't benefit from regaining some of these traits but attempting to apply them naively to everyone seems a bad idea. People need to be selective and build trust and, at least to me, it seems these relationships can't be largely a one way benefit but need to be mutual. The sad part is that many of the people that deserve the most help, ask for it the least. Yes, we could benefit a lot from cultural changes ... I think we're going through growing pains right now. Before nature imposed a certain environment on us and many desirable cultural traits simply developed out of necessity. Now we have an environment where few people see any real benefit in maintaining these traits, and understandably change. I believe it's a growing experience though and ultimately people can learn how to live more peacefully in a mutually beneficial way even within a society of ever changing social relationships. It's simply that our culture has to adapt and learn how to do this. (I'm certain 200 years ago in the middle of the U.S. somewhere a new family moved into a small town and there was a welcoming party there to greet them ... if Los Angeles only had a new family arrive once every few years, we'd probably be throwing a ticker tape parade every time)
2) Regarding "sharing the capital", there's a big difference is sharing and using police to make other people share with you. One is benevolent, the other malevolent. It's the difference between charity and cruelty. Sharing things is something that should be reserved to people who merit this sharing and oftentimes it takes time to know who one should share their resources with. This is one of those conditions that needs to be met for those "small town" morals to return.
3) Regarding the environment - what specific do you mean by "being part of the environment"? If you take the example of modern agriculture and its ability to use few other natural resources, then modern agricultural practices could be seen as being environmentally friendly. I don't know if you see that the same as "being part of the environment" though. On the other hand, we could all have huts spread across the country, make inefficient use of our labor and eat up additional natural resources in the process, while working 10 hours a day to live, and if not in a natural life, at least a more culturally preserving manner.
I guess it's just that, as you seem to indicate, humans are a part of nature. Admittedly, we can create more destabilizing situations in some areas though on the other hand we can also provide a stabilizing force in areas that might typically be seen as natural. Are 40 story skyscrapers 'natural' for humans? It's tough to say - it's a product of humanity though I believe fewer of these would exist in a less coercive society. It's not difficult to see ways in which people are coerced into large social endeavors that if given a free choice, they'd prefer to not be a part of. I would say that individuals would have less instinctive desire for a 40 story skyscaper, so in that sense a skyscraper is less 'naturally' representative of humans, than collectivist social endeavors. Oftentimes societies can commit atrocities that no individual alone would. But it's still difficult to say this isn't 'natural', as it all depends on how you view it. It seems more accurate to say that these actions are less representative of natural individual desires but more representative of the natural evolution of collective societies. (This all depends on the definition of what's natural)