Natural Systems Theory

by Hugh M. Lewis



Chapter Twenty-Six

Alternative Metacultural Systems


Human civilization has become global in scope and integration. Political and social systems have lagged behind this pattern of economic development, but even political economic disparities between classes and groups of people are great and grossly unequal. There are small, elite classes of people in the world who have almost unlimited access to wealth and the world's resources, and they have the power as well to garnish and monopolize these resources for their own private and self-serving purposes, which is usually the protection and promotion of their own resource base at the expense of almost anyone and everyone else. In this regard, being capitalist or communist makes little difference. There remain very large masses of impoverished people who live perennially in a condition referred to as absolute poverty, without access to even fundamental resources like food, water, medical attention, that are necessary to sustain life.

Even as global economic development and modernization continues, by fits and starts everywhere in the world, the polarization between rich and poor grows, and the number of people who experience in the course of their lifetimes downward mobility is increasing.

We have had the scientific and technological potential in the world to take care of all of humankind in basic ways for the past half century, but we have not been able to reach beyond the contradictions of limited ethno-national and ethno-cultural chauvinisms, manipulated as these have been through the mass media for the sake of the maintenance of the wealth of the elite and the global stratification of wealth in the world.

One of the primary strategic concerns of any and all state societies should be the production and realization of increasing amounts of consumable, functional energy, as the availability of energy, cheap and plentiful, liberates and empowers the common human being, and liberates humankind from the shackles of the tyranny and terror of its own aggressive tendencies. This entails that all modern state societies should be in full pursuit of the development of alternative energy resources with the idea that falling energy costs across the board result in falling cost-of-living and is fundamentally good and healthy for everyone. If state governments had invested their own tax dollars in alternative energy projects, with the idea of reselling this energy back, they would not be in the dilemma of chronic, perennial debt from cost-overruns due to too much spending and not enough production.

Falling energy costs create a process of producing more for less, which was a fundamental part of Buckminster Fuller's formula of human development, rather than of producing less for more that is the consequence of overdependence upon a single none-renewable supply of fossil fuel. That superpowers like the US have been largely ignoring this basic formula for the past thirty years, at least, explains well why the world is now in the predicament of wide, increasing and unbridgeable disparity between haves and have-nots, even within first world societies, and overreliance and over dependence upon unaffordable military technology and intervention to maintain the status quo of inequality and unequal development in the world.

The development of a truly post-conventional, global human metacultural civilization exists with the realization of an integrated systems framework, by deliberate, integrated-distributed design development in the world. It would have to be founded upon a concerted global effort towards the development of sustainable and renewable energy platforms of considerably greater power potential than anything yet realized within a fossil fuel economy. What is critically missing is the symbolic sense of comprehensive worldview, and the collective willpower, to make this kind of revolutionary change happen.

Metacultural civilization is the outcome of the metasystems development of human civilization, at the stage that human beings become aware of the nature of their own adaptive success on earth, disinvested of ideological bias or illusion, and decide collectively to commit themselves to the course of global alternative development. The potential had always truly been there, but the timing, the framework, the prerequisite level of metasystems development for human systems, did not historically exist until the modern, post World War II era.

We are in a time when inter-group human competition is no longer necessary nor desireable in terms of its inevitable destructive consequences. This competition is continuing and growing more acute because of the overdependence upon an energy mono-culture. To perpetrate destructive warfare in the modern era entails ultimately a motivation for resource acquisition and control that goes beyond the problems of human survival but concern issues of relative wealth and power. In other words, modern warfare is mostly a scandalous affair, a proverbial "Racket" involving a power elite attempting to retain their power in the face of growing global disparities due to global circumscription and stratification. Making warfare an extension of economic policy by other means, is a means by which the power elite can retain their control over finite critical resources.

Turning this process into a competition between political parties, of party politics, serves to displace and diffuse the sense of responsibility and potential guilt upon a larger, largely abstract, ideological platform. Turning it into an affair of national identity and solidarity is a manner of propagandistically manipulating the worldview of most of the people, of the masses, who must bear the burden of the destructive conflict one way or another. What is a true national strategic priority, energy and resource independence, is obfuscated by spurious misinformation, through the exaggeration of the threat of terrorism in the world.

Of course, the problem of human development in the world is neither a new problem nor a simple problem. Many human issues and dilemmas of development remain intractable, upon many different levels of organization of human systems.

Human metaculture can be defined in different ways. We can refer to it as the culture of cultures, or as the self-awareness of culture as a patterning of interaction and relationship between people. It can be defined as human civilization if this concept is disinvested with the cultural ethnocentrisms and bias that is usually associated with it as "High Culture." Paradoxically, more genuine human metaculture does not come from "haute' couture" crowd so much as it arises from "low brow culture" and from the intense involvement of people in terms often called folk, or popular, or base or proletariate or working class or vulgar culture, that often exhibits a greater and more pronounced creativity and spontaneity than found in the contrived and often conceited style-patterning of grand cultural forms.

There is a specific kind of metaculture that is the main subject of this chapter. It is the kind of human culture and civilization that would be needed in order to be adaptive and functional in space, as a space-faring civilization. In this regard, one of the key functions of metasystems development would be the human metacultural mediation of interhuman conflict and the constructive transformation of the potentially violent and destructive consequences of this conflict into adaptive patterns of human behavior upon multiple levels of its articulation. Mediation of human social interrelationships would extend to the adaptive mediation of human relationships with their environment and with other forms of life, with the idea of minizing the violence and destructive impact that human behavior has upon non-human biotic systems at all levels of the articulation of these relationships.

Because all food in biological systems ultimately comes either from producers or from other organisms that consume producers, humankind depends in basic ways upon the natural world that determines that food must be raised, cultivated and harvested on sufficient levels to adequately feed human populations. Synthetic food production will not adequately substitute for this process. One of the key features of human systems, especially in the context of space colonization and long-term, sustainable habitation in confined stations, will be the fundamental control of human population within reasonable limits. This is as true on earth as it would be beyond the earth. The problem of human overpopulation and the consequence of global environmental degradation and circumscription of resources is one that has not gone away, and remains one of the most pressing if least publicized issues confronting contemporary humankind. Powerful institutions and conservative private interests have come together in collusion and have had a critical controlling influence in systematically demoting family planning, birth control and basic efforts at population and death control.[1]

People have choices in how they want to live and in the kind of culture and social system they wish to develop, whether they ever realize this choice or not, or even realize that such might actually choices exist in their lives. Frequently, this sense of choice cannot be realized in a hierarchical status quo without violence happening. This choice becomes greater, fundamentally, with the advance and advent of new scientific technology that is seen as fundamentally empowering and enabling human cultural capacities and increasing ranges of choices and degrees of freedom in human systems development.[2]

One of the key conclusions of this work is that humankind, if it is to survive and prosper in the long run, must become a space-faring civilization, and must advance beyond the risk of its own self-destruction through mass violence and global circumscription of the biosphere, its only space-ship earth.

One of the individual and collective choices that human beings have gained for themselves is the freedom from the kind of cultural constraint and from their own preunderstandings and limitations of the conventional knowledge that they so often take for granted. They have the opportunity to break deliberately and in a healthy manner from the invisible chains of the cultural bonds, social constraints and traditions that have served to channel human development along fairly narrow and limited avenues of adaptation and realization of human potentials.

Modern human metaculture has been emerging upon the global skyline of the future, but it mainly yet exists as a potentiality of individual and collective human development. Modern human civilization, technologically driven, is inherently transcultural in orientation. It transcends cultural boundaries and differentials and therefore serves as a potentially unifying force in contemporary human systems.

Part of this challenge is the development of alternative human metaculture that would be consonant and constructive for a space-faring civilization. In space, humankind would have to live almost completely in an interior, or inside world. This would be a very different way of life than humans have known in its evolutionary past, in which the only real boundaries of the human horizon was the curvature and gravitational pull of the earth itself.

The near complete interiorization of human society would have to be based on a highly reliable system of internalization of ego-control structures founded upon the constructive sublimation of basic human drives and the development of sophisticated ego-defense and ego-adaptive mechanisms. In other words, such a system would externally be almost anarchical, but rely almost exclusively upon internalized control structures, or a stringent sense of self-control inculcated in the average adult personality.

One of the key aspects of this development of an alternative human metaculture is in the challenge in the mediation and remediation of the potential for human conflict and violence, and the systematic channeling of human drives to power and motivation to achieve symbolically in constructive and benign directions of development. We know that human conflict and violence will occur whereever we find human systems and human societies. The challenge remains the minimization of this potential and the minimization of the unintended consequences of this predisposition of human systems towards destructive patterns.

The development of alternative human metaculture appropriate for a space-faring civilization requires a kind of trans-cultural transformation of human systems. In other words, we refer to the development of a kind of metacultural patterning that transcends and transforms many limited aspects of human cultural patterning upon earth, in a manner that would be genuinely pan-human in a non-relativistic manner.

An intrinsic part of the challenge of space-colonization is not just the development of biospheric metasystems in space, but of constructing and reproducing self-sustaining human communities in space on a scale and to a degree that would make possible their long term survival and continuing adaptation independent of any tethers to the earth. This of course cannot be accomplished all at one time, but must be made in a series of many steps, perhaps a very large number of steps, many of which would probably be in the wrong direction.


The Concept of Human Metaculture


The term "metaculture" refers to several interrelated concepts at the same time. Anthropologically, we might call it the cultural understanding or "self-understanding" of cultural processes, something so far characteristically and distinctively human in nature. Metaculture also refers to the metasystems of culture that humankind has developed. We can find forms of metaculture practices for instance in many food-getting industries and strategies--in root cultigens, in horticulture, in full-fledged agriculture, in riziculture or aboriculture or viniculture. We can find it in animal husbandry and processes of metacultural selection of hybrid forms of domestic plants and animals. Human metaculture also takes the form of "high" cultural process, of textual and artifactual production and interpretation in religion, in the various arts, in literature, in diet and cuisine, in play and anti-structural behavior, and in other aspects of human value culture.

We might refer to a metacultural system as a set of elaborative and focal cultural processes that give rise superorganically to a pattern of civilization, or what might be formally referred to as a distinctive style-patterning or culture historical tradition. Systems theory in Archaeology made a break from Culture Historical approaches that sought types, archetypes, prototypes and traditions in terms of style patterns and seriation of artifact design, etc. But perhaps systems theory threw out the baby with the bathwater when if failed to recognize the emergent systems properties of various distinctive metacultural traditions that was represented in the archaeological stratigraphic record.

The foundation for a metaculture in reality rests upon the fact that whatever the cultural differences between different kinds of knowledge systems and the fields of scholarship in which they are articulated, all of them share a common cultural foundation and substrate in terms of their symbolic structure and function. This foundation can be potentially exploited in the development of new systems, or rather, of an alternative system that does not seek to displace previous systems, but only to complement them in a constructive or at least non-destructive manner.

Metaculture in other words exploits and realizes the mediational function of cultural patterning, but in a manner that does not entail the degree of constraint and exclusive integration of composite systems in the manner that traditional or conventional cultural patterning achieves. It is not designed or designer  culture, with implications of haute couture. It is rather only the development of a system for alternative symbolization that is designed to rest on top of other systems of symbolization without necessarily an destrctive interference between these different systems.

The core of the metaculture concept is the metasystem and natural systems theory and philosophy.

Metaculture is defined as the transcultural patterning of human civilization that is the metasystemic consequence of mainly progressive scientific technological development and the development of metaphysical and meta-ethical philosophy in regard to human social organization and the anthropological construction of reality.

We cannot overestimate or down-play the importance of achieving a realistic and vital perspective of contemporary humankind, as human behavior and belief present to us the greatest obstacles toward achieving a collectively more realistic and more adaptive framework in the world.

We are all completely steeped in one form of metacultural pattern or another, and often there are several metacultural frameworks and patterns overlapping and interacting with one another at the same place and time. We are involved in metacultural frameworks whether we realize it or want to admit it or not, and all our activities and notions and patterns of behavioral response can be said to consist of definite metacultural order or sense of pattern, even things and activities we do not normally consider being so, or even if this pattern is confusing or contradictory.

If we can self-consciously admit to reconceptualizing our behavioral and belief patterns, even in areas we consider mundane, or technically specific, etc., then we also open our selves to the possibility of imagining alternative metacultural patterns, or of alternation and of reconfiguration of our metacultural patterns, in all our modalities of belief and behavior, in ways that may in the larger sense be more adaptive and more conducive to human adaptation in general.

Human meta-cultural adaptation on earth, as a function of its larger metasystemic framework, has been critical to the success of human civilization. Such metacultural adaptation is construed as a necessary teleological outcome of the historical development of human civilization within a global context, and rests upon the processes of transculturation and acculturation that accompanies the transitions of human societies with modernization and modern development.

Meta-culture seeks to preserve the old and traditional forms with the new, and to synthesize new forms that represent the syncretic fusion of new and old forms. The heart of creativity is the elaboration of deeply rooted symbolic forms in new patterns and configurations, adapted in an on-going need to new functional requirements.

Meta-culture refers to the developmental process and patterns of human symbolic and social organization that guide individual and group adaptive response to underdetermined environmental conditions. The possibility of a form of meta-cultural design engineering and construction of symbolic-behavioral social systems that transcend many of the boundaries, limitations and contradictions of traditional ethnocultural orientations exists as a consequence of the Internet and the global information revolution.

Meta-culture is founded on several key concepts:


1. The concept of meta-culture as a system of human valuation and behavior that transcends typical ethnocultural orientations and situations, and that embraces processes of trans-culturative civilization. This leads to the development of a global pan-human cultural orientation streamlined to modern adaptation and oriented towards local and regional contexts.

2. The concept of earthbound aesthetics, which is a form of naturalist aesthetics based on the vision of reality that has been extended by our scientific interactions with the world. This concept is rooted to the idea of the unity and earthboundness of life as we know it, and of our basic dependencies upon the earth's natural processes.

3. Earthbound systems refers to the challenge in human cultural adaptation of developing a sense of dynamic cultural equilibrium with the natural world in a manner that is relatively non-destructive and, if it can be said, in harmony with the evolutionary patterns of life on earth. This concept leads to the challenge of alternative environmental design systems that promote this form of adaptive equilibrium and balance in the world.


Metaculture is by definition complex and general. It may refer to many different instances of cultural pattern and relationship and to many different levels and areas of analysis of pattern. Metaculture may refer generally to the processes of culturation as well as to the general inter-cultural context in which culturation and cultural development normally occur, and by which transculturative process of human civilization take place. We may refer to forms of metaculture involving human practice and institution, for instance, agriculture or pisciculture or other food-getting or cultural selection patterns characteristic of a people in a particular time and place.


Various forms of metaculture in analytical terms of application may be identified. I provide only a few of the alternate varieties below that are of greatest relevance to the articulation of this framework:

Environmental Metaculture
Agrarian Metaculture
Urban Metaculture
Domestic Metaculture
Extradomestic Metaculture

Metaculture defined in this manner is largely defined on a continuum that ranges between natural and human systems in the first case, and from small and local to large and regional or global human systems, in the second case. In this general sense, metaculture takes on applied implications as alternative systems of human adaptation at all levels at which human systems articulate in the world, between human beings and the natural world they inhabit, and between different people.

There is a basic sense in metacultural systems that natural resources are not seen merely as chattel or resources for human consumption and exploitation. Rather, the environment and its ecological systems are natural resources in their own right--they are the basis of life and the productivity and evolutionary development of all living systems. Human systems are in the first and last instance part of this larger framework of natural systems adaptation. A meta-ethical doctrine of universal human rights is fully expandable to a larger framework of natural rights that encompasses human relationship and treatment ultimately with all forms of natural systems.

Cultures have varied widely over space and time. Processes of cultural differentiation in long-settled regions tend to lead to separation and drift of individual cultures. Processes of horizontal cultural transmission, or acculturation, are complex and tend to cross-cut and overlap with processes of intrinsic development. In spite of cultural conservativism, cultures can change fairly rapidly over time, and from century to century can take on entirely new profiles.

Cultural variation is therefore complex and the spectrum along which different ethnocultural groupings may be ranged can vary considerably depending on the criteria we specify--structural organization, economy, religion, kinship pattern, language, etc. It is difficult to specify simple criteria that would be universally applicable to all ethnocultural groupings, in all times and places, in a unidimensional comparative, nomothetic framework. A more accurate comparative framework would consist of complex, composite multidimensional axi of comparison, and would probably yield a kind of distribution that range between two sets of contraposed axis rather than on a single continuum.

The concept of the metacultural continuum derives from the idea of a cultural spectrum, and this is the notion that "culture" as that what is transmitted between peoples over time and space, would range within certain limits and possibly fall into a complex pattern of grouping. The notion of a meta-cultural continuum may prove more available in surveys of archaeological sites across regions and between regions, than in any especially contemporaneous survey of extant patterns of transmission.


Meta-culture & Symbolic Mediation


If we can offer a scientific anthropological definition of culture as the shared symbolic behavior mediating human adaptation in a social setting and common natural environment, then  we can offer a form of culture that may effectively mediate human adaptive behavior leading to war and destructive consequences, We would then have a means for controlling and managing the unfortunate chaos of human systems.

If we can offer empirical evidence for culture in terms of the systematic differentials of cultural sharing in terms of behavioral response, then we can use our knowledge in a way to design an applied form of cultural-symbolic behavior that transcends psycho-cultural differentials and that may effectively mediate these differentials enough to effectively inhibit the more negative consequences that such differences commonly lead to.

If one of the most important functions of cultural-symbolic adaptation is the mediation and resolution of conflict arising as the result of differences and lack of sharing between people, and if this same form of adaptation permits people the possibility for change, for alternation, for finding alternative possibilities for behavior and adaptation, then it seems reasonable to conclude that we can use our understanding of these functions in a way that improves them and as a means for transcending the inter-personal and cross-cultural differences that arise as as a consequence.

I have proposed the concept of meta-culture as a cultural symbolic based human "meta-system" that serves to effectively transcend cultural boundaries and cultural symbolic differentials. I refer to this as a form of deliberate, planned "trans-culturation" and can be considered to be a form of pan-human civilization that is capable of being shared by all groups of people in the same way. 

It is because culture is by symbolic design ultimately arbitrary that we have in the final analysis a choice about how to mold it and make it our own. Because humankind is united by a common genetic heritage, we have the possibility of sharing in a cultural orientation that is sufficient and acceptable for all people, and especially, for all kinds of people.

Meta-culture is therefore simply a meta-systems framework for human culture in all its variation and possibility. It provides, in the best of possible worlds, a means for the transcendence of the ethnocentricities attached to particular cultural orientations, and a means to provide a system for the systematic mediation of cultural differentials as well as a provisioning of alternative possibilities for human and cultural development.

The characteristic feature of modernization based upon the progressive development of scientific technology is that it is creating a streamlined skyline of the future such that there has been a common convergence of typical forms and functions that is shared widely by those peoples who come into possession of such technology. Automobiles are a wonderful example of such trans-cultural phenomena. The design of cars for instance are becoming broadly streamlined to a common form that is tending to be replicated by many different countries. Technology in general is a form of pan-human civilization that comes to be shared, eventually, by all people in a similar way. 

In a technical sense of technology representing alternative applied systems that are culturally constructed, we may say that, depending on how such technology becomes deployed and utilized and the effects it comes to have upon human systems and their development, by definition all technology is at least potentially meta-cultural in adaptive deployment and application. This is not to say that technology is not frequently used for purposes that are contrary to the purposes of meta-cultural mediation, or that some kinds of technology are not better predisposed by design to serve meta-cultural purposes more than other forms of technology. It is difficult to understand for instance how an armaments industry that mass produces land-mines, cluster bombs, machine guns, assault rifles, and a number of other killing devices, can serve or promote the better interests of meta-cultural adaptation. 

We see in the concept of meta-culture the possibility of forging a cross-cultural framework that permits the understanding and systematic mediation of conflict arising from differentials of symbolic culture and behavioral adaptation by different groups of people. Perhaps it is wishful thinking to suggest that such a framework can ever be instituted to such an extent that it would effectively eliminate all violence, but we can feasibly reduce the prevalence and frequency of such violence in a significant way by means of implementation of such frameworks.

The symbolic mediation of experience comes to a critical strategic focus on the capacity to resolve potentially conflicting symbolic differentials between people at whatever level of articulation we are referring to. Thus, we may be talking about the conflict arising between two individuals who share a household, or between two neighbors who share a common fence. Or we may be talking about to social groupings of society who share conflicting interests or values and who may be competing for overlapping resources or territory. Or we may be referring to nation states, or alliances of nations, who may lock horns and come to blows over conflicts arising as the result of pursuing inimical national policies, etc.

The development of a pan-human meta-cultural orientation already depends upon the realization of certain basic features. For instance, such a meta-cultural system must be cross-cultural, multi-cultural and trans-cultural in function and reference. It must provide a coherent symbolic-ideological frame of reference that is sufficient to the needs and interests of a broad range of human beings. It must be global in scope and locally relevant in action. It must be regionally appropriate, and it must eventually articulate through communications media that has a global reach and a local sense of relevance. So far, the Internet and the possible e-culture arising from the development of the World Wide Web have offered the best means for such development, but this alone is not enough or sufficient to provide the necessary foundation for the cultivation of a meta-cultural system. Satellite communications and the ability to broadcast globally provides new opportunities for mass communications media utilizing television, telephone and possibly radio.

There have been many challenges to the problem of development of a meta-cultural orientation. Foremost has been the sense of resistance, prejudice and symbolic-structural pattern of discrimination that prevents the formation of a reasonable, institutionalized orientation, and that undercuts any consistently organized efforts in this regard. But the challenge has also stemmed from a need to design and promote an alternative symbolic value orientation, largely without many precedents or antecedents, and one that ultimately proves very arbitrary in its construction and design. There are good meta-ethical premises for instance, for including a doctrine of universal human rights in our formulations, though we might want to amend and expand this doctrine somewhat, as well as a doctrine in relation to a form of pacifism and non-violent resistance to acts of aggression. We would want to include as well what I would term an "earthbound" orientation that involves a doctrine of "natural rights" and a respect for nature in its myriad forms and in its grandiose and sublime wholeness. We can at least trace the outlines of such an orientation, if not all the implications and details.

We of course cannot force other people to see the world as we see it, or to think as we might like them to. We cannot even really attempt to persuade them in any strong or significant sense, but we can at least provide them in a non-threatening and productive manner alternative modalities by which to comprehend, think about and hopefully respond to a larger sense of the world and their place within it.


The Rise of Human K-Civilization: Trans-culturation & Cultural Mediation


Unlike genetic and gene-culture theories of human adaptation and transmission, historical & archaeological evidence demonstrates amply, in multiple independent instances, and therefore unequivocally, that the primary mechanism of human cultural development and the rise of human technological and cultural civilization, has been the consequence of the horizontal and diagonal transmission of knowledge between people due to the capacity and need of human beings to learn from their environments and adapt to what they learn. Acculturation, defined as the contact and transmission between cultures, can therefore be defined as the principle agency of human cultural change, development and evolution, in very distant, remote times of a forgotten past, as well as in contemporary times of the immediate present.

I have upon multiple instances claimed that the predominant process of human development has been what I've called "trans-culturation" based largely on the diffusion and horizontal transmission of ideas, knowledge and technologies, between different groupings of people, and the selective adaptation and adoption of these "things" to new contexts. Trans-culturation is a pan-human process, and though people may seek to control its outcomes, in the long run it serves to benefit all people equally in the same way. The streamlining of systems and the disappearing sky-line of the future is based upon this central process of trans-culturation, and it identifies the central mechanism underlying the development and evolution of human civilization, whatever the respective or divergent cultural patterns may be of different ethnocultural groupings of humanity relative to particular time and place.

Trans-culturation can be defined clearly from a systems-based perspective in terms of the realization of alternative human culture-based systems, symbolic by design, and the resulting patterns of structural integration of larger and larger human systems, more complexly organized and stratified, and the emergence of epigenetic human adaptive behaviors that are the result of these processes.

In spite of the natural historical tendencies for cultural-linguistic divergence of groupings in relative isolation, and the overall tendencies of human differentiation at individual and cultural levels of integration, the rise of Simultaneous E-Culture is having a long term consequence of overcoming these naturally divisive tendencies with the result being that there is an increasing convergence of human cultural systems along various prototypical lines of patterning, even to the point of the emergence of a single global e-based lingua franca, or e-trade language, or at least set of languages. The convergence of conventional cultures upon a common implicit model of a single, Simultaneous E-culture has the consequence, in trans-culturative terms of inducing global social and structural integration of a single system, and the rise of what I would call Human K-Civilization--which is a form of multi-state system of post-imperial civilization that is better adapted to the long term behavioral and evolutionary needs of the human species in global context. 

K-Civilization can be described as a global infra-structural framework of integration of human beings into a single working system that is capable of transcending all cultural differences and thereby incorporating effectively many diverse groupings of people at the same time. It is a style of human civilization that would, by definition, be K-adapted to the long run of human survival and reproductive success on earth--which means it would be capable of sustaining indefinitely into the future a dynamic equilibrium with the bio-geophysical context upon which human civilization is based.

This sense of civilization exists already in patterning that people are adopting, even if the structural framework for integration on its basis has not yet been fully achieved. It is based upon a framework of cultural reconstruction and resymbolization of reality that requires several generations of people to be fully accomplished and made to take hold in a fully symbolically cohesive manner and in a way that is behaviorally naturalized in terms of their everyday life-worlds.. 

Human K-civilization can be regarded as an expectable outcome of the long term trajectory of trans-cultural and transformational processes of human social development and cultural evolution in general. There is increasing realization that long-term human development and evolution is a non-zero sum game in which non-exclusive control and human cooperation, in selective contexts, pays off in the long run. Nation states, defined along conventional premises, are realizing that they cannot afford to commit their resources to total war, as such a consequence would be entirely self-destructive. Conventional Nation states are becoming increasingly integrated upon structural and social levels, and this process of integration proceeds at a vary rapid pace, in spite of the ossification of authoritarian power structures and obsolete symbolic ideologies or paradigms that have little adaptive bearing to the current and rapidly changing world situation.


Human Habitus & the Development of Human Meta-systems


In the 1930's Ruth Benedict issued a plea in her essay "Anthropology and the Abnormal" for greater tolerance of the range of human variation, especially set against what she interpreted correctly as the constraints and contradictions of contemporary American culture and character. That plea reverberates today on American political platforms and in court rooms adjudicating rights for homosexual unions, abortion, race-based discrimination and the mentally ill. This plea was based on the notion that human variation existed on a continuum that varied widely, not only on the basis of cultural factors, but also for psychological factors as well.

If we exam the fundamental unit of human systems, the human individual, we discover a phenomenal complexity of pattern that defies even until today tidy nomothetic systems of classifications as for instance that found in the DSMIV used by psychiatrists in the categorization of mental illness and behavioral deviance. However we may lump and classify human beings, individual's still remain unique to themselves in the synergistic patterning of their own behavior.

This phenomenal complexity is largely due to the highly developed frontal & cortical regions of the human brain, associated development of nerve & muscular structures of the hands and mouth/facial regions, and an evolution of an extremely generalized and adaptive form of behavior that is based upon the capacity to symbolically manipulate and manage the environment in fairly arbitrary and willful ways. This behavior and brain development furthermore occurred in social contexts that can be described as cultural in pattern, if we ascribe to human beings the unique condition of being cultural animals. (Culture in this case being defined technically as non-instinctive behavior that is learned or acquired post-partum within an environmental context or set and that is transmitted from one individual to another in social groups that endure successive generations. In fact forms of primitive culture and learning have been more recently described and demonstrated in a comparative manner for many different groupings of the Great Apes, as well as for other various primates)

Each individual human being, when looked at from the standpoint of being a human system, a microcosm in a larger sea of humanity, constitutes an entirely unique set of adaptive patterns that obtains, in the words of Jean Piaget, a form of equilibriation with the adaptive constraints of their environment. This overall pattern of adaptive behavioral equilibrium, somewhat loosely defined as "habitus," that is exhibited uniquely by each human being, whether we are a schizophrenic street person, a president of a large company or nation, a school teacher or a repeat criminal in a high security prison, may be said in the parlance of General Systems Theory to be a form of "emergent pattern" or set of synergistic properties that are associated with the identity and life-trajectory of any particular individual. 

In my own household, there are four individuals spanning three generations, three females and myself, a male. It is observable from day to day, week to week, and month to month, that each individual has an entirely unique habitus associated with their life and behavior centered as this is on the home environment. I would even include our pet dog, a young female mixed, who also has her own more narrowly defined but no less interesting sense of habitus. For the most part, these five sets of behavioral patterns occur and coexist in a shared environment without significant disruption or significant disrepair of relations or destructive interference of behavior. There are occasions of argument in the conversational apparatus, marking some subjective psychological discrepancies of pattern due primarily to age, gender and values, and sometimes a background sense of "being too close and enclosed" too much of the time between us. But otherwise, it is evident that each individual within this common behavioral setting has carved for themselves an adaptive sense of equilibrium that requires to some extent their own contexts, possessions, daily and weekly routines and habits. Very few demands are placed between individuals in this context, except for parental demands on our daughter.

The point of this digression is simply to illustrate what can be taken as a fairly healthy, if unusual pattern of complex human habitus in a shared context. Unfortunately, not all shared contexts in the world are so blessed or fortunate, in spite of whatever circumstances. We may say that the promotion of each individuals sense of habitus in the world is appropriate, as long as this sense of habitus does not come at the expense of other individuals and their own sense of habitus. It is what we get when we have one-man dictatorships who rule by fear and a system of authoritarian violence. In such a context, of which there have been and remain many such instances in the world, one person's enlarged sense of habitus is allowed to dominate, manipulate, exploit and control the sense of habitus of entire nations of people at the same time, constraining and foreshortening those lives in every conceivable manner.

If we define the individual as a fundamental human system, and the sense of equilibrium of that system as their adaptive habitus, then we can define the larger social contexts in which this sense of habitus becomes expressed and played out in the state-path trajectories of the individual human system, as the human meta-system. There have been and are many such human meta-systems. We understand these meta-systems anthropologically as cultural patterns and systems of adaptation that tend to take on a complexity and uniqueness that is even greater than that ascribable to the individual people who are part of such systems. Sociologically we tend to look at such meta-systems from the standpoint of social institutions, functions and patterns that may be more or less formalized, and usually from the standpoint of the larger state or structural system in which social groups are embedded. 

From the standpoint of the development of human meta-systems on earth, as a function of the natural history of human evolution, I will venture the following analytic stadial model:


1. A prolonged pre- or proto-cultural period of human group adaptation that was probably remarkably similar to patterns found among extant primate groups, from the earliest dawn of the hominid line, probably 6 to 4.5 million BP, down to the first rise of modern & archaic Homo sapien and Homo neanderthalensus populations approximately 2 to 100,000 BP. The transition between pre, proto- or full cultural patterns of adaptation are probably not clear and probably emerged independently in many different periods and places over a very long span of time.

2. A traditional cultural pattern of human group adaptation, based primarily upon a form of oral human information transmission, that probably arose among Archaic and Neanderthal populations, associated with group hunting/foraging patterns, language development, and related technologies, and that was obviously in full swing with the advent of modern Homo sapiens populations about 65 to 45 thousand BP, and that shows evidence of rapid development from about 30,000 BP forward.

3. A conventional cultural pattern of human group adaptation based upon written script and literacy, that arose at the latest between 4 and 5,000 BC and probably earlier, associated with the rise of patterns of domestication, state formation, centralization of governing authority, and that became full blown with the advent of alphabetic scripts and the rise of complex state civilizations.

4. A post-conventional cultural pattern of human group adaptation that is based upon new computer-automated technologies of electronic information storage and transmission. We are witness today to the emergence and transition of this fourth period of human group adaptation, and this is the basis of what we call today the Information Revolution.


We are really in the throes of the fourth Information revolution that humankind has experienced in its long evolutionary history from its first rise on the forest plains of Africa 5 million years ago. This pattern reflects directly the rise and transformation of human knowledge systems in context, that is the result of the predominant method of communication and information storage that a society depends upon.

The prediction is made that if this trend continues in an historical sense, there should emerge gradually a structural pattern of integration of human systems into a single global meta-system, and a single "meta-cultural" patterning that can be described as global in scope and orientation. This pattern should "transcend" traditional and conventional ethno-cultural patterns that tend to be localized and nationalistic in scope, and these latter orientations should become "embedded" in the background beneath an overlay produced by trends in globalization.

A key aspect of this process, and a key theoretical factor in understanding human systems as complex and unique, one of a kind in the entire universe, in fact, is what can be referred to as the symbolic transformation and resulting plasticity of human behavior in adaptation to shared environments. This is a critical component of the development of human meta-systems that most state theorists, looking to war and to materialist mechanisms of social or ecological transformation, fail to take into account, and this serves as the key point of departure for the entire human systems framework.

It may be said unequivocally that human beings, in their habitus, are symbolic creatures and rely upon their brain-behavioral-group apparatus of symbolization as the basis of their adaptive habitus in the world. Impulses, drives and needs that are in dogs rather direct, instinctively bound and in a sense, more "honest" if sometimes vulgar and violent, are in human beings transformed through the complex interplay of a variety of mechanisms, including home life, play, school, work, and social interaction in various contexts, into a large suite of possible forms of complex behaviors that can be arbitrarily manipulated, channeled, sublimated, and indirectly expressed in numerous constructive or destructive, adaptive or maladaptive ways.

To summarize an overwrought e-say, and to make a very long and old human story short, I will conclude this by stating that in the rise of a global meta-cultural system, it remains undecided how the future pattern of human development will be ultimately decided. It is possible, given recent evidence of the last Century especially, that a totalitarian regime, whether capitalist or otherwise, could arise to a position of global domination, and that the entire human meta-systems framework would come under the control and guise of a very limited number of individuals. If we observe the world system today, and patterns of global stratification, we see ultimately developed a scenario not too different from this pattern.

Returning finally to Ruth Benedict's plea for greater socio-structural tolerance for the wide-range of human variation, I would suggest that the future of the fourth Information Revolution that is resulting in the further transformation of human society and human meta-systems, can and in a sense must ultimately be founded upon a call for wide-range tolerance to the full spectrum of human behavioral adaptation similar to what Ruth Benedict stated 70 years ago. The main problem set for the rise of what can be interpreted as a fair and just global meta-system is the open meta-cultural development of individual and group patterning of habitus, i.e., the problem of human development on the individual and group levels of analysis. In other words, what is called for centrally is the promotion of strategies of human development upon multiple levels simultaneously, for the individual, the family, the local or regional community, and the larger nation or state-system, as well as globally. These encompass programs of nutrition, health, poverty-relief, infra-structural & super-structural development, rehabilitation, education, etc. The uniqueness of each individual, and their habitus, must become better realized and appreciated in a constructive and productive manner. This is as true for rich and poor alike, for the insane as for the sane. Hence modernization, development & globalization is more than just about economic development benefiting mostly an elite, it is foremost about human development in all its natural and cultural contexts.

A central part of the phenomenon of the empowerment of the Internet is that it makes these forms of development, at all levels and in all unique instances, not only possible, but truly feasible.


Global Domestication, Cultural Selection and Unnatural Evolution


A large part of Darwin's observations upon which he based his theoretical model of natural selection was in fact taken from the context of the breeding and management of domesticated species in his native England. Many of the patterns of selection he was basing his theories upon were in fact the kinds of human selection that had resulted in the domesticating of many kinds of plants and animals, and that had a fairly well known human history behind its occurrence. Darwin was able to infer from the domestic to wild populations that a similar kind of system of selection was occurring that resulted in the on-going modification of species.

Taking our cue from Darwin's theory, I would like to revisit the idea of cultural selection that has resulted in the domestication of so many different species of floral and fauna for human cultural purposes. We are in a time now of the global human being, in which increasingly culture and human civilization is converging to a single set of implicit technological standards, and this process of human development is increasingly encapsulating the entire earth and quickly dividing up the earth's remaining natural spaces as so many sectors between the interstices of human civilization.

We may hypothesize a kind of global domestication of feral life forms occurring, that is increasingly forcing many species of life to either make a jump to a culturally adapted form or else to face the prospect of rapid extinction. A few species appear to have made the leap from feral to semi-domesticated and appear as quite successful within a human background. Other species appear to be unable to make this kind of jump and appear therefore doomed for evolutionary removal. In fact more species than not appear to be incapable of effecting this kind of evolutionary transition, and we may be in the midst of an unprecedented evolutionary epoch, that really probably started more than 10,000 years ago, that is overall witness another mass extinction event and the bottlenecking of surviving species. 

Recent advances in cloning, genetic engineering and modification is adding an entirely new dimension to the age old practice of cultural selection for domestic forms of life. For the first time it appears that we have the entire mechanism of evolutionary change in our grasp, under our control, and that we can for the first time begin shaping species in a kind of designer fashion without having to wait generations of careful selective breeding and culling to see the results. We have in a sense accelerated the pace of evolution at the very moment that natural selection and the evolution of feral forms appears to be reaching a global standstill and dead end.

Natural selection in the world appears therefore to be undergoing an important revolution, or rather "evolution" of its own. Biological systems worldwide, and the global ecology in general, is becoming increasingly subject to human cultural influences whether these influences are direct or indirect in effect, and these influences are serving increasingly as basic factors of constraint, or limiting factors, that increasingly determine the outcomes of natural selection regimes and events. Many forms of life are having therefore to adapt to and survive within the context of a global human ecology, and many forms of life are failing to achieve this mode of adaptation and as a consequence are running the risk of extinction. Human culture has become the modern comet of global mass extinction. The rise of penicillin resistant strains of bacteria, many of which are almost exclusively dependent upon the human body as a host, is a clear example of the rise of new life-forms that are an unintended but expectable consequence of human cultural selection.

An expectable outcome of this is not only what we are in the midst of, which is a global mass extinction event that is playing out over thousands of years, but at an increasing rate that is positively correlated with the rate of human population growth, but that as a consequence new forms of life will continue to emerge that come attached and primarily dependent upon human cultural selection, intervention and management, either directly or indirectly. It is sort of like the Yellowstone Grizzlies at the dump site, behaving in ways that are strikingly human. I would think this kind of transformation of nature to be something of a perversion of natural design and evolutionary ecology. It is a kind of Frankenstein complex that leads to the evolution of monstrosities that merely pass as viable forms of life. This is true whether we talk about pygmy chimp populations being breed in captive experimental facilities or stock salmon that return each year to their hatcheries. We all know of proverbial story of the monster rats of Chernobyl. Fewer people hear about the pig-sized nutrias invading Louisiana.

This transformation of the natural world therefore begs certain basic questions about the future course of life on earth. I do not think, in the bigger scheme of things, that human kind will come to completely control or manage all of nature, and that nature might not in the long run succeed and rebound where human beings fail and themselves face extinction. We in fact may be much closer historically to this consequence than we realize or care to admit. I'm sure that even if we cast human civilization in the shroud of a long-term nuclear winter, and irradiate ourselves to a bizarre extinction through mass mutation, we would at the end of the day find life emerging once again with renewed vitality between the cracks of where our over-rated civilization crumbles. 

Just the same, while we are around and in the driver's seat, it would behoove human beings to carefully consider where they are going and how they are going to get there. If we wish to accept the meta-ethical responsibility of our global dominance as a life-form, then perhaps we should take the proposition of the cultural selection and management of life at all levels of its occurrence more seriously and more to heart than we previously have. With great power to shape life anew comes grave responsibility to limit and constrain this power in constructive and wise ways.

By and large the main impact humanity is continuing to have upon the biosphere is destructive. The shear volume, mass and behavioral impact of very large human populations on earth seems perhaps to be more than the earth itself can bear. As with all destruction, there is the occasion for the reemergence, the rebirth, of life.


Human Biological Dominance, Global Circumscription & the Doctrine of Universal Natural Rights


It is becoming increasingly apparent in the world, obvious to say the least, that the dominant life form on earth is the human being, Homo sapiens sapiens. How wise we really are remains to be finally answered, but to argue our relative dominance in contemporary global ecology is fairly absurd and represents a form of ideological denial of basic realities. Our ecological dominance is expressed in many ways. The manner of gravest concern is of course the rapid destruction and interference of natural ecosystems at many different levels, and what can be called the phenomenon of global circumscription by the human species. Circumscription is usually looked at from of the standpoint of the environment impinging upon human society--to look at circumscription as human society impinging upon the environment is to case a new light on an old problem, and to invert our sense of place and complacency in the world. The idea that increasing degrees and frequency of human circumscription of human systems, that human systems will continue to become more involuted with increasing growth.

We do not know what the carrying capacity of the natural earth is for human population. We are cresting seven billion people already. Carrying capacity largely depends upon our relationship to our environment and our capacity to manage both the environment and ourselves within it. But regardless of our management systems, systems theory determines that an increasing volume of human population, whatever the level of average consumption, etc., will result in increasing depletion of resources of the global system, and, in the long run, destructive consequences for natural ecosystems. There is no way that we can sustain a global ecosystem in a healthy state for the long run no matter what methods and techniques we might adopt to mediate this relationship.

The greatest likelihood of human systems in the future are that they will become increasingly self-destructive and destabilizing unless effective control structures can be developed that permit the sufficient mediation of human conflict. Beyond decrying an imperative for dramatic family planning and birth-control policies, internationally orchestrated, coupled with effective human development programs that are capable of raising the standard of living for most people and education people and providing them the necessary opportunities to escape the world prison of poverty, we must ask what measures can be taken to best contain the situation. Of course, no one has a complete answer to these difficult problems but this does not mean that we should ask and try to answer the necessary questions to get the job done right.

Beyond a rapid transformation to a hydrogen-solar based energy economy and the colonization of space, the most direct and effect means of forestalling these processes would be the broad-based institutionalization of programs geared at curtailing human population growth in non-destructive ways, educating people effective to live as global citizens in a responsible and enlightened manner, and the enforcement of temporary global moratoriums on a variety of human activities that have had the most destructive effects on the global environment. This would include a large number of fishing enterprises, deforestation and lumbering enterprises, particularly in tropical regions, and postponement of development and building projects, especially in peripheral zones where the relative degree of ecological impact would be the greatest.

Of course, the achievement of these kinds of programs would take a degree of collective will and government responsibility, across the board, especially by the leading powers, that has not yet been demonstrated in any serious manner. It is largely up to governmental agencies to set the tone and determine the climate of leadership in creating a sustainable human global ecology. Efforts toward achievement of such collective sustainability of and by the human population should not be construed as marginal or hostile to the collective order or sense of well being of established society, but as an intrinsic and necessary part of this order.

This consideration leads to the formulation of a doctrine of universal natural rights and responsibilities. We must understand that such a doctrine is human-based and centers upon human behavior and relationships with the world. Natural rights are not intrinsic to nature, they are what human beings, as stewards and parts of this world, must adopt and grant to the world. They are primarily aimed at the regulation of human behavior and the determination of the intrinsic value of non-human natural resources, including the holistic resource of global and natural ecology.

Basically, a doctrine of universal natural rights and responsibilities are an extension of the doctrine of human rights and responsibilities. I emphasize this doctrine as an extension of universal human rights because I believe it provides a meta-ethical platform for guiding the conduct of human affairs in a global context, and it provides therefore the necessary foundation for the reconceptualization and reconfiguration of the collective human relationship with its world.


Universal Natural Rights & Human Responsibilities


There exists an ideal metaethical framework that is appropriate for global metacultural development of humankind. The dilemma of cross-cutting ethno-national identities and solidarities tends to undermine the formation of a solid sense of global community. We suffer the Nazi soldiers dilemma--sense of patriotic duty and loyalty to one's homeland, to one's native community, runs deeply, even if it means the perpetration of acts that are fundamentally unethical and violent. Ultimately, from a metaethical standopoint, each individual is responsible for his/her own actions, regardless of the context in which they were committed. We do not excuse the behavior of concentration camp guards just because they were doint their duties to Hitler and the Fatherland. And the same dilemma holds basically true for any ethnonational identity, especially when these are strongly, chauvinistically and ethnocentrically biased.

A two-fold development is required to overcome this kind of obstacle in human development--first, a genuine global framework reinforcing a higher sense of solidarity and metaethical paradigm must be cultivated, both through direct and indirect sanctioning. Secondly, individuals need through education and enculturation and socialization to internalize a higher order, post-conventional sense of moral worldview and duty that transcends relatively narrow ethnonational or ethnocultural chauvinisms.

This is a dilemma that many cultural anthropologists undergo in the course of their professionalization, if they are genuinely dedicated to cross-cultural fieldwork, even if the professional organization of anthropologists is non-sanctioning. It seems a course of development that all people need to undergo in however rudimentary a form or fashion, to outgrow the strong ethnocentric attachments to hearth and home, and to develop a sense of common identity, of common humanity, with the entire globe, including especially, with all forms of nature on earth.

The human race cannot in this regard afford to wait for relatively liberal or open nation-state governments to come around to the higher order moral principles that, implicitly at least, and unavoidably, as a kind of moral imperative, govern human action and behavior in all contexts.

Humankind is governed in fact by a metaethical imperative, whether they choose to be or not. Their actions will ultimately be judged, or may be judged at least, by this implicit standard. The metaethical paradigm of humankind is based upon the realization of hman rights and responsibility that comes through the innate capacity of human sentience and empathy. Sense of tolerance and acceptance of difference arises from our capacity to walk in other people's footsteps, and to at least vicariously share in their experiences.

We have adopted a meta-ethical paradigm based upon the acknowledgement of the universal efficacy of natural rights. Natural rights extends from doctrine of human rights and responsibilities, and encompasses all relationships of humankind with nature, including especially other people. This paradigm is expostulated because it is necessary to define and set clear precedents and limits by which human development and social action in the world can be judged, sanctioned and, hopefully, self-constrained. 


15 Universal Human Rights

15 Universal Human Responsibilities

1. Right to Life

2. Right to Liberty & the Pursuit of Individual Happiness

3. Right to Due Process of Law

4. Right to Political Equality

5. Right to Ethnocultural Equality

6. Right to Habitation & Territorial Sovereignty

7. Right to Health and to be treated for disease by others without obligation.

8. Right to Work and to receive a fair wage for one's Work.

9. Right to Education

10. Right to Religious & Ideological Freedom

11. Right to Material Possession & Well-Being

12. Right to Individual Dignity and Self-Worth

13. Right to a Speedy and Fair Trial & not to be incarcerated without such a Trial

14. Right to Democratic Self-Government & Political Self-Determination

15. Right to Open & Free Knowledge & Information

1. Responsibility to exercise one's own rights

2. Responsibility to heal sickness & suffering

3. Responsibility to nurture the young

4. Responsibility to non-violent action

5. Responsibility to education and to be reasonably informed and open minded

6. Responsibility to serve and uphold the laws of one's community (i.e.)

a. one's family

b. one's nation

c. the human race

7. Responsibility to intervene in violence and protect the innocent

8. Responsibility to seek social justice

9. Responsibility to work in a constructive manner to human development

10. Responsibility to healthy living

12. Responsibility to respect & protect all life

13. Responsibility to Democratic participation in self-government

14. Responsibility to promote open, unbiased learning and knowledge

15. Responsibility to uphold and respect the rights of all human beings.


All Human actions and endeavors, individual or collective, should be done at least implicitly in accordance and respect to this basic doctrine of human rights and responsibilities within the following meta-ethical paradigm:


1. Basic Human Rights and Responsibilities are interpreted in dynamic balance with one another, and there are many derivative rights and responsibilities that are forthcoming from their interpretation that apply in limited contexts and cases.


2. Human violence is defined as the unnecessary use or threat of destructive force, social constraint or coercion/persuasion in the violation of basic human rights and responsibilities.


3. The central agenda of this doctrine is the realization of greater human potential and possibility through universal tolerance of human difference and the active promotion of human development, both individually and upon collective levels of human social organization.


4. For every rule stated, there are an unknown number of possible exceptions, conditions, extenuating circumstances, and resulting interpretations and applications that nevertheless do not violate the spirit of the implicit principles involved.  


5. There is therefore mandated by the doctrine of human rights and responsibilities a general attitude and behavioral predisposition of generosity, openness, respect, tolerance and forgiveness.


It should go without saying that one's own rights generally leave off where another's responsibilities begin, but this is a central point in the balancing of rights and responsibilities that many people and governments seem to have forgotten. It is true for instance that in some "rights-based" societies like the US, criminals with high-priced lawyers often gain greater attention to their rights and interests than their victims, because there has not been a balanced definition or emphasis upon human responsibilities. On the other side of the coin, in some traditionally "responsibility-based" societies like China and India, individual human rights are frequently sacrificed and violated, and even go unrecognized or tabooed, for the sake of the preservation of a strong sense of social responsibility, which by the way becomes chronically violated anyway by the abuse of privilege and power and the maintenance of double-standards and hypocrisy of office.

            It also remains quite true that these rights and responsibilities may be variously interpreted by different people with different backgrounds and orientations. It becomes therefore the case that the gray areas of the interpretation of these basic sets of rights and responsibilities serves as both a ground of contention, possible conflict, compromise, exploitation, violation and even misappropriation, misrepresentation and the dysphemization of the actual exercise of human rights and responsibilities in applied settings. 

            The "Right to Life" is a wonderful example of an inherently ambiguous basic statement that can be used by ideologically vested and closed interests to promote their own agendas in the world.  The interpretation of these rights and responsibilities therefore becomes more critical to their realization and the promotion of human development than their legal codification and formal definition. 

            The answer to this kind of dilemma is the realization that the basic doctrine of human rights and responsibilities serves not only as a basic anthropological charter for humankind, but as a general ethical code of conduct in which rights and responsibilities, variously interpreted, variably expressed under conflicting and existentially uncertain circumstances, constitutes a kind of meta-ethical system for individual and community behavior. It therefore provides a template for human social action, organization, relation and definition of well being, and at least implicitly sets the standards for defining and measuring relative human well being, conduct and its consequences in the world.  For instance, promotion of human development, both individually and collectively defined, emerges in this framework as a certain high priority that cannot be responsibly ignored in the world.

            Different rights and responsibilities of self and others operate and condition one another in a complex way in variable settings and under different sets of conditions. The system in part or as a whole always remains open to interpretation, discussion, revision conflict-resolution, adjudication, legislation and compromise.


Universal Natural Rights & Responsibilities


6 Universal Natural Rights


6 Universal Natural Responsibilities


1. The universal right of life

2. Right to non-interference

3. Right to natural selection

4. Right to natural habitat

5. Right to resource protection

6. Right to explore and research in natural systems

1. Universal non-violence

2. Responsible Intervention

3. Responsible selection

4. Responsible environmental design

5. Responsibility to resource conservation

6. Responsibility to transmission and extension of knowledge of natural systems


The doctrine of universal natural rights represents a meta-ethical and logical extension of the doctrine of universal human rights, to cover all living and natural systems upon earth. As with everything else, things can be argued both ways and nothing is incontrovertibly set in stone. There are of course gray areas in the articulation of development that will be manipulated by interests capitalizing on development.

We can not any longer afford to treat the world and the natural environment as a fetish, as a possession, that is ours to do with as we please. Our sense of dominance and power over nature should not be allowed to continue unrestrained by own moral capacities for exercising judicial constraint and symbolic capacities for transcending our own natural limitations.


Balancing Cultural & Natural Ecologies


Human cultural ecology is distinct from the natural ecologies from which it arose. Human cultural ecology has been extremely successful, for the most part, in promoting the adaptive and reproductive success of the human species, and in its diversification to a wide range of niches in the world. Indeed, its open and constructive capacities has resulted in the development of entirely new niches and even whole ranges of niches that did not previously exist before the invention and construction of culture.

But this success in our shared history has not come without a heavy price being extracted from our natural environment. Modern Homo sapiens may have refined the technologies of ecocide, but they were not the first to invent or utilize such technologies, and we may reach deeply into our shared heritage to find examples of the mass slaughter of life and the systematic destruction of entire ecosystems on behalf of maintaining a growing human system.

This success has been achieved by means of social organization, the application of technological systems in shaping, controlling and managing the environment, and in terms of anthropogenic factors like symbolic language, culture, and mind. We may find counter-examples among many species of similar forms of adaptation, particularly of social systems, but these are analogies of parallel evolution of form and function, and not homologies of shared design features or genetic coda.

It is clear that cultural and natural ecology have been out of balance, and the former has been advanced largely at the expense and exploitation of the latter. The sense of imbalance, or disequilibrium between cultural and natural ecologies is in the long run bound to have negative consequences for both forms of ecology, to the extent that cultural ecology is basically bound to and dependent upon natural ecology, and to the extent that natural ecologies are becoming increasingly influenced by and under the control of human cultural ecologies. The long-term consequence of course, as is evident with Global Warming and other global trends, is the rapid destruction and disruption of natural ecologies, almost upon every level at which they occur. These are long-term consequences for which we have known precedents, and, unfortunately, we do not have to wait very much longer to bear witness to their dire consequences.

The challenged faced by humankind is to bring back into balance, upon a new level, both natural and cultural ecologies, which means primarily the refashioning and reshaping of human cultural ecologies in a manner that will be less destructive and exploitative of natural ecologies. First and foremost is the effort to rapidly bring human population growth to control, even to a level of negative growth. Secondly, is to curtail and circumscribe the activities of human systems and communities, in terms that are most relevant to the future development of natural ecologies.

We are faced with a kind of Easter Island Scenario. The planet earth is a very large but not unlimited Easter Island. There is no convenient or suitable way off the island, at least for most people. We are wholly dependent upon the resources of the island for our survival and success, and yet by our very success in exploiting the resources of the island we are jeopardizing our future on that island. Of course, if we cut down all the trees on the island in order to transport our giant Moa heads, and we denude the island of all productive vegetation as a consequence ultimately of too great a human population, then we run headlong into the problem of the breakdown of natural ecologies for the sake of maintaining an imbalanced human ecology. We are then reminded of the Malthusian dilemmas of natural population increase that outstrips its environmental carrying capacities.

Altering human adaptive ecology to be more in line with a natural ecological framework begins with the individual in the home, but does not end there. Certainly in many systems it is not just undesirable, but downright socially self-destructive, to abnegate the drive and symbols of affluence by which modern societies are based and regulated, even if these patterns towards affluence are directly averse to the challenge of developing saner and safer human ecologies. I have learned this by personal experience. It takes organized corporate institutional structures to effectively implement new designs that encourage and entail alternative forms of human adaptation. Only by means of a ground swell, grass-roots movement, a "human tidal wave" might industry and government be encouraged to adopt alternative and less exploitative practices. If everyone boycotted those things known to be the most environmentally destructive, including large vehicles, etc, then certainly industry would be forced to alter their designs to suit public demand and taste. But cultivating such a form of resistance is difficult, especially when vast amounts of capital are spent just in advertising designed to convince people that they "need" big vehicles and the stuff that anti-environmental industry thrives upon.

It becomes in a sense, therefore, a kind of war, made up of many battles. The first battles are with ourselves in our local environment--recycling, eating lower on the trophic level, walking instead of driving, making fewer babies, working for the environment rather than against it, etc. It extends out to our local and areal communities--creating awareness, setting examples, participating and even initiating programs that come to rescue the environment or promote awareness of the environment. Finally, it extends to regional and national levels, and ultimately, to international and global levels of awareness.

We can conclude this overwrought essay by suggesting that those who are not only a part of the problem but the primary reason of the problem, cannot be counted upon to change themselves voluntarily, or to adopt policies that will be in reverse or adverse to their own established interests that are consonant with the established order of things in the world. The solution cannot come from those with power, but only from those who can and must empower themselves. The kind of revolution of human ecology I'm referring to is ultimately a kind of pacifist revolution, a concerted effort to deny to those who are in power and who are a big part of the problem the means of dehumanization and violence that they use to force their motives and get their way in the world.


A System for Ecological Classification and Zoning Based upon the Interaction between Human and Non-Human Biotic Elements


I propose a simple analytic scheme for zoning local and regional areas based upon the relative amount of direct interference and penetration by human systems of natural biotic orders. Such a system I propose would be generally useful for identifying, designating, classifying and mapping a broad range of biotic components and relationships within a global framework, as these occur in many different locations and complex areas, and for analyzing patterns of transition and alteration that occur in biotic systems. I propose furthermore that the simplicity of such a system is useful for handling the large scale complexity that is otherwise represented by biotic systems worldwide.

This system is ranked in three tiers: A. Mostly non-human biotic, B. Mixed Systems, and C. Mostly human controlled or manipulated systems. Within this three tiered structure, I would propose that application of three orders of magnitude: completely (1), partially (2) and slightly (3).

Thus we have the following system:


A. Mostly Non-human Biotic Systems that are represented by no to moderate degree of human contact or influence, but which influence tends to be non-interfering with the non-human systems.

A1 Completely Non-human biotic systems--systems exist completely without direct contact or interference with human systems.

A2 Mostly Non-human biotic systems--systems that are mostly non-human but experience a slight to moderate degree of human interference or penetration. Examples would include fringe forest, tundra, or marine biomes that are occasioned by human contact for purposes of research or travel.

 A3 Moderately Non-human biotic systems--areas that feature some degree of contact from human systems but in which natural biotic systems are largely unaffected or undisturbed by continuous or frequent but minimal contact or influence.

B. Mixed Human-Non-human Biotic Systems. These are systems characterized by regular interaction between human and non-human biotic elements and in which systems of interdependency or alternatively of predation or parasitism develop, usually of the human upon the non-human system.

B1 A system that features regular intrusions into non-human biomes for purposes of biotic resource exploitation. Hunting, fishing, and foraging patterns may be designated as B1 level of intensity, unless such patterns are so imbalanced as to lead to the extermination or extinction of local species.

B2 Systems featured by domestication and horticultural enterprises by human communities, in which there is regular interaction and the rise of species that are dependent or specially adapted to survival within human systems or in relation to human systems. In an ideal manner, these may be seen as balanced and stable systems of interaction between human and non-human biotic components, and thus achieve a potential for longevity of adaptation. Horticultural systems, herding, pastoral systems, and some forms of agricultural systems qualify as B2 level systems.

B3 Systems that are marked by a predominant intrusion of human control or interference factors that serve to alter, circumscribe and limit the non-human biotic elements, often in a manner that is exploitative of biotic resources for the immediate gain of human communities, but at the long term expense of these non-human biotic systems. Many intensive agricultural and other types of food-farming systems can be characterized as B3. Processes of selective breeding, cultural selection play with domestication to produce a restricted range of species that are wholly dependent upon human intervention and human systems for their survival.

C. Mostly or Completely Human Biotic Systems.

C1 Systems that feature a predominant human population and control but which are characterized by a significant degree of limited non-human biotic elements. Typical of such systems are town-ship communities and suburban areas that are marked by sometimes extensive intrusion or elaboration of non-human biotic systems, but only under the tutelage and management of human care-takers who constructed such systems by design or as the unintended consequence of human development and intervention. Parks in cities represent such area.

C2 Systems are those that are characterized by mostly human control and patterns of biotic interaction, characterizing especially highly populated human regions that are urbanized. In these areas, non-human biotic components tend to be minimized and strictly controlled and regulated. The majority of human beings on earth can be said to live within frameworks and zones that are C2 in character.

C3 Systems are those that are characterized by the almost complete or total absence of non-human biotic components, as significant factors in the patterning of the environment and its relationships. Downtown urban settings, with little or now plant life, except that found confined to interiors of homes, the cracks of side-walks, or cages or confines of small spaces, typify a C3 system.

Thus we have a system that we can characterize any region or local area on earth by the degree of interaction and net balance of relationships that occur between human and non-human biotic components. We can place this three tiered, nine-level system along a continuum of a scale of intensity ranging between one and nine, nine being the most intense degree of human domination and intrusion upon biotic systems, and one being the most intense degree of non-human biotic domination.


Tier/Level         Degree/Description of Human Involvement                    Intensity Scale

A1    Completely non-human biotic system                                    1

A2                   Mostly non-human biotic systems                                              2

A3                   Moderately non-human biotic systems                           3

B1    Mixed systems favoring non-human components                   4

B2                    Balanced systems defined mutual interdependencies                   5

B3                    Mixed systems favoring human components                               6

C1                   Moderately human biotic systems                                              7

C2    Mostly human biotic systems                                                            8

C3                   Completely human biotic systems                                              9


In applying this kind of classification system to zoning and identification of components and functional features of areas and biomes as these occur today in the world, we must recognize that many systems are mixed and tend to be heterogeneous, and thus may straddle one or more zones or levels or scales of intensity, may oscillate regularly or irregularly between zones or levels, or may feature subsystems that occur at different levels simultaneously.

Thus it would be useful to extend such a zoning system to a 9 x 9 grid or matrix of relationships between all 9 levels, with the recognition of the possibility of a number one type of system co-occurring with, for instance, a number nine subsystem. We can for instance imagine such an ecological contradiction in the winter-quarters of a scientific team in the Ant-Arctic, a small enclosed 9-type colony, protected from winter winds and night-time temperatures, and surrounded by vast expanses of 1-type environments. Just the opposite kind of system we can imagine is one in which the &nbsp

To depict the grid, with the highlighted letters of the first row representing the dominant occurring, or alpha system and the italicized letters of the first column representing the second-order or beta system that co-occurs.







































































































It is clear that in the on-going patterns of human population growth and development of human civilization, there has been an increase in C-tiered systems at the expense of A-tiered systems and, as well, a possibly shift in the kind and frequency of mixed systems from a 1 to a number 3 level, representing the overall tendency for human systems to become dominant, and take over in any given area, usually at the expense of non-human biotic elements.

It is neither possible nor realistic to develop models or frameworks for understanding systems ecology or global ecology, in any framework, without taking into central account the role long played by, and increasing dominated by, human systems. It is difficult to speak of truly pristine environments occurring on the earth today, wherever we may search, that has not been somehow contaminated by human systems.

Global Human Eco-systems and Information Ecology


The challenge of future development of human systems is forging a new global human meta-system that is ecologically efficient and efficacious in the structure of the long run and the large. The point is, we can afford to leave natural systems alone. They can take care of themselves. We cannot afford to leave our own human systems alone, because we obviously don't know how or are ultimately incapable of taking care of ourselves. 

Paying greater attention to our own ecology, and our sense of human ecology, is something we can all afford to do, for many reasons that may appear on the surface unrelated but in the larger sense all interconnect to a common problem and solution set. 

It is consonant with the Information revolution that we should be "doing more with less" rather than "doing less with more." Of course, with limited fossil-fuel reserves, oil-dependency and rising oil-prices, "doing more with less" becomes an impossibility.

Let us understand what is possible and what is at stake in this process. I recently submitted an article to an International journal--normal submission required express post, double hard-copy, to Europe. This would have been expensive and time consuming.  Fortunately the editors, in both Europe and the land down under, where cool enough to accept postings via the Internet. How much was saved in the process? 

Junk mail is a thing of the past--Spam is the tidal wave of the future. The suggestion of this is that the Internet and the Internet economy is fostering a new form of global human ecology, and new possibilities for human adaptation that are ecologically revolutionary. We might call this process "cybernetic greening" or digital environmentalism.

The outcomes in this regard are entirely debatable of course. If transportation should come to match communication, and the requirements of a fast-paced, globally mobile human population are to be met and matched to the possibilities of the Internet, then we had better come up with better and greener energy solutions that we have come to depend upon. Otherwise, I think, our global ecology will be fore-doomed to a kind of Malthusian disaster.

The alternative, then, instead of people going to the global theater, is bringing the global theater home so that the most transportation the individual should need, hypothetically, to worry about, is the walk in a neighborhood woods or a bicycle ride to the local cyber-cafe, in between running their prospering home-based business and taking virtual vacations.

The other side of the coin of Buddhist economics, in doing more with less, is really just doing with less overall. We can say in the manner of a Zen koan: Less is More. This is consonant with the digital information revolution in which more information is packed into smaller and smaller spaces.

I think we have yet to fully explore the possibilities opened up for a global information ecology--surely it is a kind of "ecology of mind" that Gregory Bateson alluded to in his classic works in anthropology.


Global Meta-culture


The predictable outcome of the development of a digital information revolution will be the completely horizontalized transmission of culture and "meta-culture." I look into my digital crystal-ball and forecast trends I see developing in the future, and some of their possible consequences in our shared world.

The basis for global meta-culture thus will be a form of e-culture, or what can be called an e-based culture, but it will derive ultimately from the rise of e-commerce in governing market systems and exchange networks in the world. E-commerce will continue to increase in volume and take more and more of the global market, as well as larger ranges of the market continuum. The distances and boundaries separating original producer from ultimate consumer will begin shrinking, as well as the number of middle-men who manage and manipulate these market networks. Ultimately, through forums like E-bay, goods will not only be widely distributed, but even more widely redistributed.

Transportation of products, in increasingly small and individual packages carried long distances in short-time spans, will increase in volume as well as in efficiency and this will come to play a key middle-man role in the future.

We can speak of a "revolution of information" being the consequence of the basic informational equality created by free and unlimited access to the Internet. This will be a common voice raised by many different peoples for similar kinds of reforms and a greater demand for a larger piece of the global e-commerce pie.

How long will it take to achieve this level of global meta-cultural development is a big and probably unanswerable question. It would happen sooner than later if there were not a lot of primarily political and social obstacles standing in the way and offering resistance to this kind of development on a broad or even scale. And of course, this kind of revolution based on the Internet would only be a pretext and prelude to a much wider scale kind of change that would need to occur--this would include the redistribution of people in a number of ways:


1) in relation to land and the resources derivative of the land, especially food and water;

2) in relation to energy and the production and distribution of energy;

3) in relation to other people.


We cannot say what this pattern of redistribution will look like, but I suspect that rates and distances of relocation, with multiple relocation events over a single lifetime, to increase as transportation becomes more available, more widespread, and overall, less expensive. At the same time, I think people will increasingly choose mobility over geographical stability because of the rates at which employment and distribution of resources will shift in patterns of demographic distribution.

This leads to questions as to forms of habitation and housing that will become commonplace worldwide. I see it something like the leasing framework of automobiles in America, where people never really come to own a car but regularly recycle for a newer car while paying monthly leases, with the option of leasing to own. I can imagine housing being managed and leased in a similar way, with people eventually "trading" in a place for a newer one.

At the same time, I see greater increases in the amount of trans-national migration occurring, structurally and socially motivated, and leading to a complex form of "ethno-social" stratification that is characteristic of global society. People will increasingly become identified with resident ex-pat or resident alien populations and the ranks of such communities worldwide will be continuously turning over. In many instances this might aggravate conflict between communities and individuals of different communities for which there are strong and deep cleavages. At the same time, I see the Internet based economy functioning as a kind of pariah-capitalist buffer and intermediary in potentially conflicting relations that might occur between groups.

At the same time, I see a deepening symbolic interiorization of more complex and stratified systems of psycho-social identification occurring, such that one's basic identity and sense of identity will itself become more complex, more contextually and situationally defined and more modular. I can see identity and sense of social solidarity shifting from the organic and mechanical models of Durkheim toward a more dynamic and modular model of identification and social relation. Basic ethnocultural and familial identity will become increasingly less important, except in certain contexts where this tends to be more emphasized. At the same time, if one is busy relocating from one region to another, especially across state boundaries, one can expect that one will shed old clothes for new in the process, and the new clothes will look pretty much like the old ones anyway. 

I would like to think there will be emergence of a new world identity, as a world citizen, but I believe this will take a degree of structural integration of systems that is as yet further off than the kind of social and cultural integration and patterning of response that is expected to occur first. Vikings for instance invaded the British Isles, especially in the north. They invaded into Central Russia along the Volga river. In these regions where they settled as traders, merchants and farmers, the brought their cultures with them. They caused some cultural displacement but eventually their cultural patterns were absorbed and amalgamated with the host ethno-cultures of their new homelands. The result was probably the creolization of entirely new ethnocultural blends. This is the kind of process one would expect and hope to see happening in a future world that is united by a common Internet framework. We may see traditional tribes people with cell phones and shopping at Walmart, and modern peoples living in traditional shelters and wearing traditional clothes from foreign lands.

It is expectable that world population growth will achieve its own natural limits and begin tapering off as increasing numbers of women and families institute voluntary and self-disciplined regimens of birth control, in spite of cultural constraints or other institutional frameworks or beliefs that might interfere with such practices. Empowerment is one of the benefits of the information revolution--this is ultimately about self-empowerment, and the increased sense and range of choice that comes with greater control over one's life. 

Death rates globally are expected to rise in the future with increasing population. Disease will be a main agency of increased death rates. Conflict that occurs on a limited scale, including political or interethnic conflict, as well as criminal victimization, may in fact increase overall. Increased numbers of deaths due to dramatic or sudden displacement or disaster is also likely to increase in frequency.

But a lot of these kinds of patterns will ultimately depend upon the political and economic future of the world, and the history of relations between different nations and peoples. These are outcomes that are not so much a matter of pattern and systems development, but more a consequence of human intention and unintended consequences. While the global system becomes more integrated, it will or should become more robust and secure from system-wide "critical events" but at the same time regionally or locally more susceptible to major events occurring in a basically unpredictable but catastrophic manner.

Authoritarian power structures typically depend upon information control and propagandistic manipulation of worldview and opinion for the sake of keeping people in line and maintaining authority. Large totalitarian governments like China have a strongly vested interest in keeping tight tabs on their "China Net" and preventing the Chinese people from having any effective contact with the larger internet. This is only partly successful, as the China-net system leaks at multiple points and with increasing frequency.

Chinese government, one party and totalitarian, has a vested interest in maintaining tight control over about 2 billion souls--they in effect control between a third and a quarter of all humanity. This is both a huge resource and a huge responsibility, and can become a tremendous liability in hard times and a tremendous asset in good times. The Chinese communists are meeting their futures inventively and half-openly, but are committed to remaining in complete control over their nation and their corner of the world for the indefinite future. They are also committed to increasing their sphere of control and to achieving structural, social and cultural dominance worldwide. The rest of humanity should not be mistaken about these goals of the Chinese government or the potential threat it poses for the rest of the world and itself in the structure of the long run.

Islamic countries, and the Moslem population overall that totals more than a billion souls, are countries that may upon certain levels interfere with systemic development or react in a conservative manner to such development as it occurs. We can probably expect increasing Moslem based terrorism in the world, at least during the next couple of decades, and these are bound to have overall a destabilizing and braking influence upon global systems development. In the long run, I do not know what will become the most feared, the random acts of terror that will be perpetrated by extreme fundamentalist Islamic groups, or the reactions to these acts of terrors that they will inevitable lead to. We can look to a widespread escalation of a cycle of violence much as we witness between Israel and Palestine, though occurring on a larger scale internationally.

With this kind of problem, there is another phenomenon that is occurring, and this is the horizontal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as the downsizing and broadening of the spectrum of design and deployment of such weapons. This pattern will tend on one hand to put otherwise small and weak nations on a more even playing field with the traditional large and powerful nations, and at the same time, invite incidents of mass destruction or limited regional/areal holocaust by agencies that are basically unstable and irrational.

I think one positive trend that has been occurring is the rise of multi-state structural frameworks, like the European Economic Union, and a pan-African organization that is capable of meeting needs and problems within Africa more effectively in a coordinate manner than can either Europeans or other nations or nations that are not united under a common umbrella. I see no boundaries of region or shared borders or areas in a world increasingly integrated by the Internet, and therefore the possibilities and likelihood for such inter-state cooperation and structural confederation for mutual gain only increases, even by states that are otherwise remote, distant and different from one another.

In this context, I see the goals and dream of a pan-national framework like the United Nations coming to greater realization and becoming a more effective agency in dispute mediation and conflict adjudication between nations and peoples.

The question arises as to what will a "global meta-culture" look like in terms of basic values, habits and material life. I look into my systems crystal ball and I see a kind of universal or global education as a part of this, and thus the foundation of basically international educational frameworks and systems that transcend national and other ethnic boundaries. I see also a common push towards greater freedom from constraints of all kinds, culturally defined and therefore relative, as well as increasing opportunity for more people to participate in the global system in a productive manner. Modernization as we know it will continue with the provisioning of newer and newer models and designs that become increasingly integrated and streamlined in a functional manner towards what can be called optimal solution sets. This has been happening, I believe, in the automobile industry, and automobile manufacture is becoming more widespread in the world.

It would be nice to think and expect that people will eventually work out their ideological and religious differences, especially in a peaceful manner, but I doubt and suspect that they never really will, at least not completely. If the basis for the drive for organized religion is structural insecurity and ambivalence, then if structural insecurity and ambivalence can be decreased and systems stability increased, we should expect to see a decline in the social motivational factors influencing the rise of religious movements, especially extreme religious cult movements. We should always expect this to occur. We hope only that such occurrences will not become commonplace and widespread in the world as a consequence of global integration and the rise of a global meta-culture.



[1] The realization that the poor get pregnant while the rich get richer seems to have escaped the majority of the world's population. It certainly has not escaped the attention of conservative rich elites who know that their wealth is indirectly tied to the starvation and scramble competition of as many other people as possible. And in this sense, development is trickle down and all charity on earth only comes from the wives of the rich and the famous. Of course, this is a "communist" point of view and therefore is inherently evil.


[2] The potential that exists in this regard in terms of human systems development at all levels far exceeds the reality of how human cultural institutions have been articulated and reproduced. In large measure this is in part due to the fact that human cultural systems tend to be conservative, and innovation comes from individuals in consonance with larger patterns of change. But more importantly, modern cultural institutions have been consistently manipulated and to some extent artificially "controlled" by special interests, private interests, and governmental interests who have realized a great deal of profit and power from this form of control.


Blanket Copyright, Hugh M. Lewis, 2005. Use of this text governed by fair use policy--permission to make copies of this text is granted for purposes of research and non-profit instruction only.

Last Updated: 08/25/09