Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilizations, A Complexity Profile,” by Yaneer Bar-Yam, NECSI Research Projects, http://necsi.org/projects/yaneer/Civilization.html.
A recent article on complexity and human civilization has set the blogosphere on fire: Stephen DeAngelis, Larry Dunbar, Mark Safranski, and Curtis Gale Weeks have all commented on it. Particularly fascinating has been this graphic:
which, actually, is wrong. A history of civilization, scene through vertical rulesets, would look closer to:
Why? Because the history of human civilization has been the history of steadily increasing vertical control. 17,000 years ago, when the human brain began shrinking, man became a social animal and the State of Nature was overturned. The parts of the human brain that were lost deal with the ability to navigate pure network structures — aggression and weariness. The success of the verticalization of human affairs took another step forward with the foundation of the Modern State and national police forces. A work still incomplete in many parts of the world, including Iraq, the Modern State has led to a hundred-fold decrease in murder of the past few centuries.
Indeed, our greatest hope for peace is for another ratcheting up of vertical control. Thomas Barnett’s Leviathan – a global military force that puts down aggression everywhere — is an answer to the question for an analogy to Thomas Hobbes — a state police force that puts down aggression within borders — on a world stage. The evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker described the need for
a worldwide democratic leviathan that would penalize the aggressive competition, defuse the Hobbesian traps, and eliminate the cultures of honor that hold between the most dangerous perpetrators of violence of all, nation-states.
The end of war can result only from the greatest verticalization of power in human history.