Natural Systems Theory

by Hugh M. Lewis



Chapter Twenty-Two

Human Social Systems


            Human beings are inveterate social animals. In fact, humans do not do very well in isolation, especially in long term isolation. Social deprivation and social marginalization of identity is tantamount to a kind of living death. Human identity, sense of self, sense of well being, and ego-empowerment, are all founded upon a healthy social status-role identity.

            Human beings are social animals not just in a biological sense, but also in a cultural and symbolic sense, and these two kinds of social being are fused and ultimately inseparable in the formation and definition of the human being. One of the key symptoms of human madness is fundamental social isolation and asocial or anti-social behavior. Social success depends largely upon our capacity to sublimate and channel our basic drives and impulses into constructive and highly differentiated forms of sophisticated human response patterning. This allows us to interact in the world with others in a manner that becomes prosocial and eusocial in basic ways.

            It is through social process and society that we realize ourselves in the world, as something of value and significant in our being and our accomplishments, or as a failure.

            Human social identity articulates upon multiple levels, and in a variety of alternative behavior settings. Sense of social solidarity is directly related to the level of integration and differentiation a given society has achieved, and in the development of human civilization we have a correlation between larger and larger populations of organized human settlements, on the one hand, and an growth of human social institutional complexes from primary familial and traditional kinship to secondary institutional settings.

            Human family as a primary social institution seems fundamental to human social organization, and yet we know of the wide variation of kinship structure and familial identification that is possible in the world.

            Human social systems function as corporate institutional entities in which the individual yields a degree of independence of thought and action for membership and status-role identity within the institutional settings. In being corporate, social institutions are larger than the people who compose them, who are seen as replaceable and expendable fundamentally. There is an implicit and sometimes explicit social contract between the individual member and the society of which that person is a part.

            Human social systems have since the neolithic been able to mobilize manpower and critical resources to great purposes and goals that would be too great for individuals or smaller scale social systems to accomplish. This confers an adaptive advantages to members of successful social systems, and we are well aware in historical times the tendency for social systems to become imperialistic and expansive of social territory in the quest for greater control over both human and non-human resources.

            Social integration of individuals and institutions requires prolonged periods of delayed development requiring behavioral and symbolic socialization of the individual member to the norms and constraints, implicit and explicit, that serve to structure and normalize the ethos of a given society.



Of Symbols and Power


Universal to human beings time-immemorial and worldwide is that they traffic in symbols, and this trafficking in symbols is a source of both objective and subjective power for all people. Successful truck with symbols results in the increase of power, and a sense of growing empowerment in the world. Unsuccessful negotiation with symbols results in the loss of power and a growing sense of powerlessness in the world. The paradox of human reality, and the anthropological relativity of this reality, is that though humans must deal in the world in terms of the world, the manner in which they thus deal are defined symbolically. When they love another person, they love that person not as the person in and of oneself, but as a symbol, as an living embodiment of something in the mind of the lover. Human beings have no choice but to deal with the world, and other people, in terms symbolic to their nature. Wherever we watch the parade and pageant of power in the human world, there we will find human actors who are manipulating and managing key symbols, and serving as embodied symbols, within a larger social system.

I bring up the fundamental relationships between symbols and power in human reality for several interrelated reasons. 


First, human beings are in a sense prisoners of their own symbol systems, and they cannot escape these prisons, as they are carried around in their own heads and constrain all way may do or even wish to do. We may refer to a fundamental symbolic solipsism of human consciousness that is the foundation of the anthropological relativity of human reality. This influences not only our attitudes, our worldview, our knowledge, but our behavior and our social relations as well.

Second, these symbol systems are fundamentally arbitrary in the sense of not being bound by natural instinct or genetic endowment or hormonal fluctuations. We have a not unlimited capacity to manipulate, control and select our own symbol systems, even if the overarching tendency is for these systems to dominate and control us.

Third, these symbol systems are the primary mechanisms that mediate our adaptive behavioral relationships with our environment. They are the principle mechanism of human cultural integration and social-environmental adaptation on earth, and they are the universal basis for human cultural ecology.

Fourth, human relationships and human society in general is organized on the basis of human symbol systems. We would be loathe to admit it, but even our most intimate relationships, and even always our most intimate relationships, are in essence a kind of symbolic acting out and elaboration of our own fantasies, in our own heads. It is not that all other people are merely or only "objects" of our own symbolic dreams, because there occurs an important process of interaction and negotiation of symbolic forms between people.


One of the key characteristics that partition off the psychotic from the normal is the lack of social rapport and in a sense the fixation and inflexibility of internalized symbolic structures. For neurosis, we find a basic social dependency and rigidity of symbolic structures that are incapable of being modified, particularly through self-initiated efforts.

The key difference therefore between what we can call normal and abnormal appear to me to be in terms of the cultural sharing of symbolisms and the mutual reinforcement and modification of these symbolisms, probably upon multiple levels of their articulation. Abnormal behavior becomes deviant to the norm to the degree that such behavior is idiosyncratic and not shared in any cultural sense. 

The relativity of cultural patterning and social order arises from the social consequences of the symbolic relativity of human behavior and consciousness. The tremendous variation of cultural patterning worldwide demonstrates several things: 1. that cultural patterning is independent of genetic constraint; 2. that cultural patterning is highly susceptible, as systems, to processes of symbolic construction and modification; 3. that cultural patterning arises in the interdependencies of human social interactions and symbolic mediation of these relationships through time and across space.

I bring up the topic of symbols and power because I want to emphasize the tremendous power that symbols and symbolisms have for human behavior and human "nature." What we do in a material sense are without meaning if they are not imbued with symbolic importance. There is a great deal of room for error and manipulation in symbols, this is the source of their power and adaptive capacities for human beings. The world attaches tremendous importance to vital symbols, even the importance of life and death itself, and there is thus much power to be gained in the manipulation and control of symbolic forms in social life.


Human Power Motivation & the Symbolic Transformation of Human Nature


If we are seek a sense of universal motive in human behavior, whether we are referring to the behavior of people in collectives, or as lone-individuals, or as investigators or jurors in a adjudication of a crime, we must refer ultimately to the human drive for power, especially power that is expressed socially in terms of human relationships and symbolically in terms of the manipulation of the elements of one's life world.

From the standpoint of the anthropological relativity of knowledge in the understanding of human behavior, I would make a strong claim that all human purposive activity that involves even a minimal degree of intentionality and planning, is primarily and ultimately motivated by what amounts to a drive for power, whether this is expressed in social contexts or in personal ways. Therefore, almost all organized human behavior, and even much behavior that appears otherwise disorganized, is behavior that can be explained, motivationally speaking, in terms of the need for power and the sense of satisfaction that is gained from power.

This claim being made, it becomes incumbent to define "power" in a way that is relevant to our argument. In a fundamental sense, I would say that power is the ability to control change in a deterministic manner, especially as change relations to other people and to social relationships. In social terms, power translates into a sense of status and a sense of control that is gained from the ability to determine a course of events, especially as these events affect other people. 

The drive for power can be largely unconscious, and yet remains a prime mover in the organization of behavior. Because the sense of status and control that is achieved from power is symbolic, it becomes a powerful psychological motivator and inducement for behavior, so powerful in fact that it may override almost any other drive or human need that may be claimed to occur. Because power is at the basis of  the symbolic transformation of the human psyche, as the source of will and driver for purposive determination, and because symbolic experience allows for the flexible encoding and analogical transference of value and meaning from one form into a variety of alternate forms, the drive for power is very plastic and very malleable and itself can be sublimated and transformed in very different and often interesting if not completely frightening ways.

The drive for power has one central weakness--it is largely a vicarious and fleeting, impermanent experience. Once having achieved power through the actual determination of an outcome, the experience, status and sense of satisfaction gained quickly dissipates, lost in the stream of on-going experience, and hence, as the sense gained from the achievement of power sinks back below the surface of conscious awareness, the need to regain this sense of power arises back up in however a rationalized and convoluted a manner.

It is apparent too that the drive for power is largely an insatiable and unending need, and the achievement of power induces an even greater need for gaining more power. We can speculate therefore that at the core of the need and drive for power, especially when this appears to occur in an extreme or inordinately large degree, is a deep seated and fundamental sense of dissatisfaction and insecurity of one's own sense of ego identity in the world. This sense of deep dissatisfaction I believe comes from the experience of the loss of control, and the achievement of vicarious or displaced symbolic control, in one's early years of development, mediated as these experiences are by significant others and the often uncontrollable vicissitudes of one's effective environment. We might relate this deep need to a sense of separation, loss and rejection experienced by an immature ego, especially in relation to significant others, and the inability to effectively compensate for this sense of loss by replacement with others or displacement onto healthy forms. We may suggest a fundamental sense of discrepancy in the personality and character of an individual human being, bifurcated between a largely unconscious, libidinally driven, power hungry persona, and a weak and fragile sense of ego that is incapable of controlling the "controller." 

In making these remarks I do not separate qualitatively or distinguish clearly between what I would consider to be normal cases and examples of the need for power and what can be considered clinically or criminally pathological drives for power. The differences seem to be in the degree to which this drive for power becomes the controlling factor of one's behavior, and the manner in which this drive is symbolically transformed and transferred onto a larger set of relationships in the world. In this sense, writer who lives through the characters and plot structure of a novel may be working with similar drives as a dictator who lives through the suffering and repression of an entire nation, or a sadistic sexual psycho-path who lives vicariously through the torture and cruel suffering of their victims.

What this drive for power is critically linked to, at least in terms of human systems theory, is what I have elsewhere referred to as the symbolic transformation of human nature that is most marked by the idea of world openness and the lack of instinctive or other forms of natural constraint upon human behavior. Human behavior is invariably transformed and becomes symbolically expressed and mediated. Because it is highly plastic and highly volatile, it is capable of being manipulated symbolically in a wide variety of ways, often in ways that may be considered extreme, bizarre and naturally perverse. Human behavior frequently shows signs of symbolically transformed perversity largely not encountered in the natural animal world. Our tendency towards aggressive action and violence, especially in group contexts, is therefore probably not the show of an instinct for natural aggression arising for instance from intra-specific agonism, nor can we attribute it to some genetic predisposition per se. Rather, it is evident, that human aggression in the forms it takes and in the ways we are familiar with it especially in modern social contexts, is largely the result of the lack of natural mechanisms of control over human "nature" and the consequences of the symbolic transformation of this "nature" in ways probably not intended by nature.

The plasticity by which this drive for power can be shaped in so many divergent forms, and the degree to which the symbolic displacement and transformation of human character can take, even to the point of overriding what can be considered natural sexual urges and other natural drives for food, a stable body temperature, etc., is indeed quite remarkable, and I believe a very strong case can be made for the influence of hormones and also the release of endorphines and other psycho-active agents as a by-product of the quest and actual achievement of a sense of power. These "psycho-somatic" side-effects of the drive for power may be the essential component that predisposes humanity to a chronic abuse of psycho-tropic drugs and narcotics and what is considered by some the universal need for the achievement of alternative states of consciousness. This need for periodically experiencing alternative states of consciousness, however induced, including various forms of hallucination as well as hyper-suggestive states of trance and other "out-of-body" experiences, seems to me to be a consequence of the symbolic possibilities of the active human brain that quickly finds tedious and monotonous the pace of normal experience.

If we watch animals in their sleep, we an have little doubt that they are dreaming and that the subjective experience of their dreams is very like the way in which we experience our dreams. Dreaming serves therefore a very fundamental purpose for the active mammalian brain. The functions of dreaming are not well understood, but must have a lot to do with the reorganization of the brain, the filtering and integration of new experience, and the symbolic processing of new experience in relation to old experience that is stored as forms of memory or possibly posited in the neural encoding of the brain itself. But it becomes equally evident that dreaming for human beings takes on an entirely different level and order of meaning than it does for instance in dogs, and that for human beings, states of waking consciousness can at times become confused with dream states, the two commingling at the edge of conscious awareness. Not to revisit old stereotypes, but in severe schizophrenics we find people who are awake and yet who are as if in a dream world of their own making. If schizophrenia occurs in dogs in a manner and degree we find it in human beings, it would be a surprise to me as I've not seen a dog yet I would call schizophrenic. But then we can assume that dogs are more instinctively bound to nature, to a closed Uexkullian world of "dog nature" than human beings seem to be.

It is not my intention here to rhetorically belabor a scientific argument with only anecdotal evidence and an appeal to common sense. I would say that the drive to some kind of power is resident in many forms of animals, particularly in animals we refer to as active predators. The capacity to control the outcomes of events in the world are a direct extension of the capacity to control one's own behavior in response to events in the world, however this is achieved, whether by instinct or by symbolic construction. Biological survival, and an "instinct" to live, especially for animals, is predicated on the capacity to interact with a world in terms of one's behavioral controls. This "instinct" even supercedes and hence precludes any drives toward reproductive success, which in its way can be considered an extension and further expression of the self-same set of instincts for survival. We may call it a "natural" will to live or will to survive. This drive exists within us whether we are challenged by our environments in any critical manner or otherwise. It seems often in ordinary life, many of these kinds of rudimentary challenges are removed by design, by cultural preference and by social directive, and often as not, with little to replace it in any ordinary sense of lived experience. But whether suitable contexts exist for its expression or not, the need for its expression may continue doing its own thing regardless.

There is one last point that I must question in relation to this thesis about the universality of the human drive for power and the symbolic transformation of human nature, and this has to do with what can be called a preoccupation for death and, possibly the fear or at least sense of symbolic marginalization that comes from the experience of death, the threat of death, or even just the existence of death. A perverse fascination with death, with killing and the dead, seems to psychologists to be a pathological expression of innate curiosity in life, and of a need to control one's experiences of life.

The preoccupation with death and dying seems to me to be a rudimentary expression of the drive for life and survival. In living systems, and especially I think in living systems as sophisticated as human systems, there can be no greater expression of power than the control of life or death over another living being, for death is not just final, ultimate, irreversible, but, I think often overlooked, it represents in a fundamental sense a "win" in a kind of zero-sum game of living and an essential form of competition between organisms. In this sense, the taking the life of another, whether this is done on a field of battle, in a robbery, or as a consequence of a psycho-pathic perversion, represent what might be referred as a presymbolic affirmation of one's own life experiences and chances for success in life.

This is by no means a justification of why it is humans so commonly and frequently take the life of other organisms, not just humans but of many forms of life, and appear often to be fascinated by this scenario in their life such that they would want to watch it over and over again played out in movies or on television or in the news media. It is rather merely an attempt to understand how it is that we can be thus fascinated by such a perverse and seemingly destructive interest on such a basic level, and an at least tentative explanation of why this just might be so.

Perhaps needless to conclude, the drive for power is in all of us and may become expressed in many different ways. Many ways are in fact constructive and healthy, and many other ways are obviously not. To become psychologically and behaviorally caught in a particular trajectory of development of this drive for power and its behavioral and social expression in the world, versus some alternative pathway, is critical to answer and yet probably so complex and multivariate that it is impossible to answer in any final way.

Whatever trajectory we achieve in the course of our life, and in the course of events in our life, we get caught into what can be called a "circle of power" in which one set of events leads to another, to social consequences and reactions, that in turn drive the need for power to even greater heights, and power can become both psychologically and sociologically amplified thereby.  I'm exhibiting my need for power in writing this overwrought essay, and, if you have read thus far, you are probably exhibit some will for power in reading it to the end. The proverbial slave exhibits power through the dependency of the master on the slave's powerlessness. The will to power takes many forms symbolically in human behavioral response in the world. It is shaped, harnessed and made available to the world by the society in which we are a part and in which we enact our parts.

It is something of a mistake to cast the drive for power as an abnormal or pathological characteristic of human nature, and to portray it only in terms of sociopaths and other criminals. The drive to power characterizes all human beings both equally and in uniquely individual ways. We all manifest this drive, more or less, along a multi-dimensional continuum of its expression in terms of strength, direction and transformation of affect, aggression, activity and rationalization. 

I am of the opinion that human achievement motivation (McClelland et. al.) that in the modern global system is primarily expressed by means of money, that translates into resource acquisition and appropriation, is what can be called a structurally and socially normalized extension of fundamental human power motivation, and the neverending quest to make money and to get rich is merely one more culturally and socially sanctioned form of the manifestation of the drive for power.

I think, as a refrain, that it is easy to overlook the motive of power in our lives and in our world, especially if we are caught up in the grip of power and its circles in our lives. We can repress our confrontation with it, attempt to stifle, manipulate, alter or even extinguish it, not only in ourselves but in others around us. We can especially rationalize its ends and means in our life in practically any manner we choose to see it in, thereby justifying it to ourselves in a satisfactory way if not completely to others in the world. We can act out the drive and fantasies that the need for power manifests itself in, and we can vicariously displaces and project it out onto the world in all kinds of ways. I would even say, that in some social settings, the drive for power can become so manifest and so overwhelming in social life, that it must needs thereby be denied or ideologically justified in a collective manner that not only "makes sense of it" but serves to neutralize or remove any possibly negative consequences that apperceptive realization of its possibilities (and potential horrors) might bring. As it has been said recently, the fish rots from the head down. I think it is in this regard, in a sense of projective symbolic displacement, much easier to recognize the true intent and designs of power in others than to see and acknowledge how it may play out in our own lives. Our ability to symbolically manipulate and transform power is a form of power itself, uniquely human it seems.


Anthropological Authoritarianism & Human Development Systems


All the world around, the main obstacle to problems of modern development, and the persistence of the structural diseases of chronic underdevelopment, remains the inveterate and embedded authoritarianism of local social institutions that tend to reinforce with the coercive threat of violence and consistent violation of human rights, the unequal distribution of natural and cultural resources and the continuing exploitation of human productive and reproductive resources. It does not matter what the cultural form or national label we stamp on it--it is consistently the same pattern of social anthropological authoritarianism the world over. In general a standing army or military/paramilitary force serves to protect and promote the interests of an established elite, institutionalized through bureaucratic mechanisms that control and govern the flow of resources and serve to manage people in pre-structured and mandated ways. Any development effort aiming at targeting development of the very poorest runs up against these institutionalized structures, such that they become systematically stymied and frustrated, with the resources available through such programs generally being siphoned off and ending up in the pockets of the elite who manage and control the underdevelopment of the poor in the first place.

The critical and straight forward question becomes therefore, given this general situation worldwide, how to effectively circumnavigate these kinds of structural obstacles and boundaries to human development. We must understand that a direct confrontation approach would result in most instances in considerable violence and relatively small gain for the cost in terms of human life and destruction. We must see this dilemma as part of a complementary problem of how we go about promoting human development in the world, and what we even mean by human development. 

It is especially in the creation of alternative systems within a meta-systems structure that falls outside the normal operating system, and serves to positively reinforce the positive attributes of the host system, while as much as possible abnegating or effective counteracting the negative attributes of the host system that lead to violation and violence. We would expect gradually a revolution of equality coupled with a revolution of rising expectations that coincides with alternative human and meta-cultural development. This kind of revolution is basically a pacifist groundswell movement that tends to obviate the need for deployment of armed forces, and tends to cooptate the role that the bureaucracy normally plays in the restriction and channeling of resources.


Symbolic World Orders

Cultural Cybernetics and the Social Competition Hypothesis


In this penultimate chapter, I have sought to complete a basic synthesis of how it is that people in the world come to organize themselves into distinctive groupings, and how these groupings can grow and come into competition with one another that frequently leads to destructive consequences. Materialist theories have been quite effective in explaining this kind of phenomena, but they tend to subordinate the role that ideology and human aribtrariness play in alternative construction processes and in the organization and historical articulation of human society. Again, as in so many other fields of understanding, it is a confusion of causal determinism with a hen and egg dilemma. It comes from a failure to see how both materialist and idealist realities are necessary in the organizational patterning of human systems that are by definition symbolic.

            At the same time, materialist theories to a great extent construe cultural pattern and process as the outcome of other mechanistic relationships, rather than the effective cause of such relationships. The implication of culture in the center of the issue of human social organization brings back another theoretical dragon, that of human sociobiology. The claim is made that sociobiological implications have importance to the extent that they drive human populations to adaptive and reproductive success, and therefore into social competition with one another. In this, there is a kind of imperative that lends itself to repeated human violence and exploitation, but again, this process is culturally mediated.

            Finally, the object of this chapter is to seek to understand how it is that worldview comes to order and shape our world, and how the cultural order and shape of our world comes to affect how we view the world. If we are to look for causal mechanisms in this process, then again we need to seek to understand the central role that human symbolization plays in mediating and constructing human reality. We can say that the human world is unique and different in its natural patterning in that it constitutes a complexly underdetermined system at many levels simultaneously.

In the theory of the anthropological construction of reality, we can speak of the cultural construction of reality, the psychological construction of reality, the social construction of reality and the linguistic construction of reality, and all of these alternate systems are comprehensive yet incomplete. This is the basis for our human information systems science. All are different, but all are of a variety of human construction processes made possible by human symbolization, which refers us to the symbolic construction of reality underlying these possible patterns. And when we refer to the symbolic construction of human reality, we are talking necessarily of mind and of the ideational and noetic properties of the human mind. At this stage, we can legitimately refer to the ideological construction of reality as a culmination of the expression of human symbolic construction processes, and this refers us to the theoretical problem of worldview.

            The worldview problem begins with the question of how it is we come to see our world as a coherent unity, and what factors account for this view of the world. Human beings are perhaps unique in being able to claim a sense of worldview, perhaps one that is inherently reflexive and apperceptive, in that it can come to know itself, and to know our selves as people in the world. We might talk about a dog's or a cat's view of the world, and we can conjecture what these may be like. It is apparent that these noetic conceptions of the world are mostly concrete, and have a qualitative difference from that of people. People's view of the world can be characterized most distinctively by its symbolic patterning. When human beings view the world, they view the whole world in a sense that they reach out to the very furthest corners of the universe to comprehend and integrate it with their immediate experience. It is clear that human beings normally think in terms that are displaced and indirect from their immediate apprehension of the world. If we look at origin mythologies the world around, it is clear that human beings seek to explain and make sense of their world in fundamental ways such that the world is rendered sensible and symbolically ordered for them.

Underlying any worldview can be found a sense of symbolic organization of a people that seeks to define and justify the cultural realities and organizational patterns of the people who view the world. Worldviews always have some sociocultural context in which they arise and from within which they make sense. As such, worldviews tend to be integrated with the cultural systems they arise in and are attached to. This sense of integration fosters a kind of mind-body equilibrium, and like all natural nonlinear control systems, this sense of equilibrium is always dynamic and subject to sudden changes.

We can explain this process within the framework of our symbolic theory in terms of the need for symbolic integration of internal and external constructs that leads to coordinated and directive human response patterning and behavior in the world. In this, language process is the central mediation between internalized cognitive patterns and externalized cultural patterns. This is an inherent duality of patterning that describes a dual-informational feedback system.

Internalization and externalization of symbolic forms gives rise to processes of embodiment of significant external stimuli in the consciousness of the individual, such that it becomes an internalized part of that individual's life world, taken for granted as natural. At the same time, external stimuli become invested with subjective and internalized attributes and significations, that is the result of projection onto these stimuli. This process I have come to call the external embedding of experience, such that we form normally deep-seated attachments to things in our world.

There is in life a continual need to daily reinforce our internalized views of the world and our external world order. We adjust our internalized views to be in conformity with the external order, and we attempt to arrange and adapt our behavior in the external world, and to order relations within it, to bring it into greater equilibrium with our internal view of the world. We do so on a continuous basis through reality testing of our knowledge and our behavior, especially by means of social interaction and what has been referred to as the conversational apparatus. This brings our subjective feelings and views of reality into consonance with the received objective view as this is embodied in the social group, via other people, and we seek greater consistency and sharing of the objective view by continuously reinforcing it in ourselves and others. Thus reality testing and reinforcement is a central function of symbolic knowledge that mediates our world. This is clearly evident in the relational and propositional structure of our linguistic meanings, especially as these are culturally embedded and contextualized.

In explication of human systems theory, there are five levels of informational patterning that I think are important to take into account.


1. The individual in her own life-world context

2. The primary social group, reflecting kinship structure


3. The secondary social group, reflecting extended social organization


4. The total life-world, including other social groupings and all of nature.


5. The noetic world of human intelligence & symbolism, including language as the principle means of communication.


These levels are of course all interconnected in complex ways. I would like to say, as a cultural anthropologist, that these things all define the cultural reality of the human being in a fundamental sense, and I think this is a correct statement to make. Different kinds of cultural realities beget different styles of thinking and behaving, but all serve fundamental adaptive and social purposes of the human being. That culture has not been received as a correct or legitimate construct is largely due to the racial politics of the times and to the implicitly ethnocentric denial that diversity and difference are effectively consequences of cultural reality and not political ideologies.

Thus culture is construed more as an effect than a cause, more as something that is the result of other things, rather than as something that might be somehow basic and inherent, and inseparable, from humanity. Bio-cultural Anthropologists, a very conservative lot and reaction bent in the field, love to try to reduce culture to explanations that ultimately rest on genetic and evolutionary foundations. Culture of course implicated itself very early in the adaptive survival and evolutionary success of humankind, and human culture is unique in the world, due primarily to its symbolic structuration. Culture at that stage intruded upon the biological identity and being of humankind, to the extent that as big-brained creatures, we depend upon our culture for our sense of order and survival in the world. This does not make culture more instinct bound, but it does make human beings more instinct-free. Definitions of human reality that fail to take culture fully into account are bound to fail as adequate anthropological theories upon the rocks and shoals of comparative cross-cultural realities.

Culture is itself a thorny construction of anthropologists. It has had many definitions, and yet there has not been the paradigmatic consensus or conceptual unity of understanding exactly what it is, how it works or why. And yet, paradoxically, we cannot do without it in our understanding of human reality. We need it in order to provide the conceptual touchstone in our thinking about the complexities and dilemmas of the human experience.

Cultural patterning is fundamentally social in its structuration and process. Thus cultural patterning is primarily external in the life world of the individual. Usually, in fact always, cultural patterning becomes linked closely to distinctive patterns of material traits. Cultural patterning also comes to embody not only the experiences of the individual, but the experiences and symbolic meaning of the social grouping as a whole. Thus social identity, as a member of a coherent group, is invested at the level of the cultural construction of reality. This is symbolically expressed through collective representations and idiographic representations.

The definition of culture has been numerous and imprecise. Culture can stand for practically any facet of human experience, and can be represented by those facets. Archaeologists in general use a definition of culture that is largely material, and thus they would tend towards materialistic explanations of cultural patterning. Similarly too those anthropologists who are concerned with cultural ecology, or the relationship of the human group to its environment, and with ecological anthropology in general. It is not to say that these orientations are wrong or that they do not contribute valuable insight into cultural process and pattern. Strong cases for materialistic determinations can be made. But in human cultural patterning, all such determination is and must become expressed culturally and symbolically to have any significance, and to a great degree, it is the culture that shapes the group's pattern of adaptation of its environment, and not the other way around.

Institutionalization of social process can be considered to be the embedding of symbolic experience in the social order, one that generally reflects the cultural categories that compose a society. We divide analytically between primary institutions that have as their function the problem of material adaptation and reproduction, or what is referred to as reality culture and secondary institutions that have as their function the expression of value culture and the symbolic-social reinforcement and reproduction of values in society. Secondary institutions occur with the purpose of reinforcing primary institutions, and include the ideologies and mythologies with associated ritual-religious paraphernalia that serves to give form to these belief systems. At this level, symbolic systems of secondary institutionalization are largely systems referring to collective representations of the group and the group order, as well serving to define the individual member's status-role identity within such systems, as if this were a superorganic entity or phenomena. Often this is expressed in supernatural terms that often take heroic or demonic moral dimensions.

There is a sense that cultural patterning can be construed on two levels, as encompassing the entire range of human experience in worldview, to the entire range of functioning within a given social grouping. In such a comprehensive view of culture, language, symbolization, patterns of cognition, conceptualization and response, patterns of social structuration and institutionalization and material culture, would all be variable alternative forms of expression of cultural patterning. They would be considered historically distinctive and unique to a particular period and place and to a particular group of people. In this general view of culture, all the various manifestations of symbolic patterning and process would be considered but variable expressions of cultural process and patterning.

Culture in this general sense can thus be construed as constituting the total contexts of an individual's, and group's, life-world. This would include all the sub-contexts, objective or subjective, that can be analytically distinguished within this encompassing framework. In this sense, even the natural environment comes to take on cultural adaptive and symbolic significance, as an extension of human cultural reality. In a real sense, no human being can really ever escape completely their cultural life-world, except perhaps through death. Even if we travel between cultures or occupy positions in several cultural frameworks, we do not ever fully escape the original context of our primary socialization and enculturation of experience, as we tend to carry this residually in our heads and in our ingrained patterns of response.

People are by nature and circumstance culture bound, and for all people culture tends to be a totalizing experience. It engulfs us in every aspect of our experience and being. For most, this cultural patterning of our experience is taken for granted and presumed to be a priori to our own experience, as it is the world we are born into. We tend to naturalize the experience, so much so that even ideologies which naturalize cultural construction of reality, as if this were in fact genetically predetermined, become wholly, entirely credible. Only when we experience the discrepancies and ambiguity attendant to cultural frame shifts in experience of alternative cultural realities do we suffer a sense of the limitations and inherent arbitrariness of cultural reality. Our cultural reality becomes, instead of obviated in our collective, "objectivated" experience, relativized as being but one of several alternative possibilities. This is the source of marginal ambiguity to our sense of symbolic world order and integration.

It is like the language we learn to speak as a child. As long as the only people we need to communicate with are people who share our same language, there is a natural inclination to take this for granted. It is as if there were only one language in the world and that this language would be the best language and the most natural language to be emulated. We may hear other people speaking foreign languages, but as long as we are not constrained to interact with these people in some way, we do not have to let the fact of an alternate language interfere with our view of the world. But if we have to struggle with a foreign language in a foreign reality, and we have to deal with people on their terms as human beings, rather than upon our own terms, then we become linguistically relativized in our experience of our reality.

The term culture is also used in a more specific and analytical sense, to refer to various aspects of the external contextual manifestations of such patterning, including both material (non-human) and social aspects. It has been an unfortunate state of affairs in the history of Anthropology that its central reference term has meant so many things and yet, in some final analysis, seems to mean nothing specifically at all. This is often the more conventional use of the definition of culture encountered in Anthropology.

I use culture in both senses in this work, as both a general and a specific set of phenomenon, that are characteristic of human symbolic patterning and the consequences of this patterning in human group life. The unfortunate confusion of the indefiniteness of the central term of culture is both a liability and a hidden asset in anthropology. It provides an open theoretical question mark into the problem of research upon its central object of theoretical inquiry. What is culture and how does it work?


Cultural pattern can be defined as a relative term like cultural context, to which it is related. Pattern can be construed as the total style pattern of a cultural context in the total sense, or as a reducible sum of all those different style patterns that the total context encompasses. In general, cultural style pattern tends to be uniquely characteristic to specific cultural groupings that can be said to have clearly cultural boundaries. This leads to a conventional and somewhat stereotypical view of a culture as a grouping of people with a distinctive language, worldview, way of life and material designs and social customs. Cultural pattern can be considered to be the physical and social manifestation of the entire gestalt or part-whole patterning of a particular culture. As a style pattern that is distinctive to a cultural orientation of a group of people, or what I can an ethnocultural grouping, cultural pattern in the whole sense describes what I would call the civilization that a culture embodies and elaborates.

It defines what has been called the cultural configuration of a grouping of people. This patterning tends to be differentiating, particularizing and isolating for a group of people, but in the larger scheme cultural boundaries are hardly ever so well defined and isolating. Thus cultural boundaries can occur more like isoclines of trait complexes, and cultural pattern can be construed more as polytypic trait complexes that vary continuously from one area to the next. This also entails the few that cultural patterning is blurry along its outlines, and that one pattern can merge into another in time and place.

Cultural dynamics describes both the processes of change and stasis, or equilibrium that is manifested by cultures. Melville Herskovits has written the clearest and most definitive work on cultural dynamics. Change can be seen to occur in terms of trait variability of what is characteristic of a cultural pattern. This variability is defined in terms of the continuous production, reproduction and elaboration of style patterns, or trait configurations. Cultural dynamics in a steady-state of continuous minor change is alleged to be the product of continuous experimentation of thematic forms, a constant reworking of old themes in new patterns, leading to cultural drift and shifting focus.

But cultural dynamics also leads to more radical, revolutionary changes that have been referred to as revitalization movements and historical accidents that lead to major disruptive or reintegrative changes of the entire style pattern, such that it becomes replaced with an entirely new pattern. Whether this is indicative of a replacement of the actual human population by a new group, or whether it is a case of cultural superimposition of a new pattern on an old group, is usually inexplicit in the archaeological strata.

These configurations are what I would call thematically organized within a culture, and come to describe particular mental templates of cultural patterning that I would call cultural models that are characteristic of that culture. Individual members of a culture reiterate and in the process refashion these cultural traits on a daily basis, experimenting with central themes and reapplying the constituent elements in new ways.

Cultural focus has been defined as the central area of cultural interest and activity focal to a specific style pattern of culture. All cultural groupings must take certain adaptive and reproductive institutions as centrally crucial to their survival, but cultural groupings are quite variable in exactly how they do this. We can distinguish between the rizi-cultural patterns of lowland cultures in Southeast Asia, and the swidden root-cultigen complexes of the New Guinea highlands. Different cultural groupings come to define reproductive and marriage institutions in different ways as well, and these patterns may have little to do with patterns of food-getting or other aspects of material life. Most cultures also take some form of exchange and intercultural interaction as of central importance to their way of life. Some have institutionalized patterns of ritual warfare, and others institutionalize complex ceremonies centered on exchange and status competition. These institutions of exchange and interaction are important to the stasis and identity of cultural groupings, because they serve to help order external relations in an uncertain world and lead to patterns of attempting to structure and control sources of exogeneous change.

All cultures also elaborate focally some form of religious institutions that serve as secondary institutions in the collective representation and legitimization of the group. They also serve to integrate the member to the group, and in providing a sense of worldview that is symbolically integrated and as minimally contradictory or ambiguous as possible.

Art and aesthetic activity is usually a form of cultural patterning that is associated closely with religious patterning, but it becomes associated with other, particularly social and material institutions as well. Thus few cultures make water vessels without decorating and ornamentation, that serves to distinguish that cultural artifact as a part of a particular cultural complex. The fact that the style patterning of a cultural orientation in its material and artistic expression is so distinct and internally consistent, is what enables archaeologists to group artifacts into periods and places with such fidelity to the record. This appears to be the case even with very primitive tool assemblages.

From this standpoint, cultural patterning is what is socially external to the individual's world. It takes material form, necessarily, but more importantly, it takes social form. That these patterns are directed towards issues of survival, adaptation and reproductive success in an uncertain world, in the form of primary institutions goes without saying. That secondary institutions also arise that serve the function of social organization beyond that of primary purposes, that serve in the elaboration of value culture, is also quite obvious. That symbol systems serve the function of justifying, legitimizing and conceptually reinforcing these external social patterns also should be obvious to any student of anthropology, no matter what the paradigmatic commitments of their mentors.

Cultural change processes are not unlike language change process. Cultural style patterns describe a kind of iconographic and emblematic grammar, in fact a symbolic relational grammar that is distinctive and unique to a group. It appears that groupings require some sense of uniformity and consistency of pattern, and this has as much to do with questions of identification and membership to a group, as it has to do with the functional issues of coordination of response pattern.

But the consistency and similarity of pattern has to do with a deeper and more basic aspect of cultural process, and this is the process of symbolic sharing. Symbolic sharing is implied in a common language and in terms of relational logic, and by these means we can grasp some of its essential design features. Symbolic sharing is the measure by which two or more people share the same ideas, the same patterns of response, etc. across the board. Symbolic sharing allows coordination and consonance within a grouping that is the basis of symbolic integration at the social level. Symbolic sharing is the basis of the integrity and stability of a culture pattern through time and across space. It entails that if we travel to a transplanted immigrant colony across a vast ocean, we are likely to find great cultural affinity of traits with the parent culture.

Symbolic sharing of cultural traits is the equivalent of genetic identity of a population, and has similar consequences. Symbolic sharing induces adaptability and integration of cultural patterning of an ethnocultural grouping of people through time and place. The degree of symbolic sharing is an empirical measure of the degree of relative cultural homogeneity and consonance achieved within a group. Symbolic sharing occurs at multiple levels and in all contexts of general cultural process.

Individual variation and variability as this is expressed presents an inherent analytical dilemma to the understanding of cultural configurations and patterning. Individuals share many affinities and characteristics of their culture, to the point of yielding predictable values on tests and results, but at the same time individuals vary broadly within cultural configurations based on natural dispositions. The same plasticities and underlying organic variability that gives rise to human symbolization permit an almost infinite degree of individual variability in the expression of cultural trait patterns.

In the basic organic traits, it is expected that in large populations, the pattern of variation, i.e., genotypic trait frequencies, are fairly uniform across cultural boundaries, such that the intrinsic physical characteristics and variations found within one population are likely to be found to a similar degree in another population. Schizophrenia, which shows a strong genetic linkage factor, appears to occur at fairly steady rates in all cultures.

Cultural patterning influences the symbolic trait-plasticity of human beings, as well as the patterns of material and social expression and the behavioral response patterns that individuals adopt, and thus influence the phenotypic and behavioral and adaptational trait configurations of a population. There is bound to be a fairly broad range of variation of pattern within any cultural grouping.

Early culture and personality studies imputed personalities to entire cultural configurations. Personality and character structures appear to be unique to people. While cultures do affect certain traits and expressions of personality in many basic ways, personality variation appears to be relatively independent of cultural patterning. We may say that in any given cultural grouping, there is likely to be a fairly broad range of individual personality variation that occurs regardless of the patterning of culture. Personality variation has a great deal to do with issues of the psychological construction of reality. The extent to which cultural processes influence personality traits and profiles is unknown, and is likely to be considerable but not completely determinative of personality. Psychological variables, rooted in the trait plasticity of the human brain, tend to be complex and multi-determined.

Early culture and personality theorists claimed that certain personality trait configurations exhibited a degree of cultural fitness to the degree that they were consonant with the predominant modality or norm of a cultural pattern. Thus we spoke of modal or average personality configurations that were alleged to be most consonant, and defining, of the predominant thematic patterning of a cultural configuration. While it is true that some individuals appear more fit in a given cultural orientation than in others, the reasons for this appear to be complex and not easily determined. Personality "types" and typing appears to be a somewhat complex and risky game that leads naturally to stereotyping and the "replication of uniformity" rather than the organization of diversity.

The point is, as with so many other naturally occurring information systems, we cannot clearly separate where one form of cultural influence leaves off and another form of psychological influence takes over. Therefore we must presume that the two together form an inherent and interdependent feedback system, such that we can expect some degree of optimal adjustment and equilibrium between the two sets of cultural and psychological parameters. I would suggest that psychological traits could not mature or be fully expressed outside of cultural contexts within which they can take shape and find forms for expression. At the same time, it is evident that cultural patterning gains its expression through the influence of personality traits and configurations. Personality variables lead to a reworking and refashioning of cultural traits.

To characterize one entire cultural patterning in terms of typical personality characteristics, for instance as Apollonian or Dionysian, may be literarily interesting from the standpoint of description, but somewhat superfluous from the standpoint of the actual patterning, its complexity and its variability.

Indeed, some types of individuals appear more adaptable to certain cultural configurations than other types of individuals. In general, a cultural system will provide a form for the expression of certain personality traits, thus channeling these traits in some productive way, or else it will fail to, or even repress their expression. If a person has natural inclinations that are cultural repressed, it is likely that that person will suffer a sense of discrepancy in the society, or else will have to achieve some effective sublimation or re-channeling of the personality variables in some more culturally appropriate form. This process of cultural selection is usually institutionally circumscribed, and is not necessarily an indication of a personality configuration of a culture itself. It is likely that more aggressive, competitive and domineering individuals will succeed in whatever cultural configuration they happen to find themselves born into, than individuals who are less aggressive, competitive and dominating, on average.

Cultural systems do tolerate rather narrow ranges of conformity of individual personality. They do so in a sense that the military does so, by the superimposition of uniformity regardless of the individual variability of personality. They do it in a manner that they do not have to accomplish it externally, by means of its internalization into the psyche of the individual. To the degree and extent that an individual has internalized the values and norms of the society of which it is a member, its personality can be said to be cultural consonant with that group. It is apparent that this process is quite variable between people, and hardly ever perfect or complete in any person.

It is evident, as in the military, that persons who are very strongly internalized in conformity with the dominant system, may actually suffer a greater degree of dissonance and ambiguity than apparently less fit members, such that total or absolute conformity is rarely either very adaptive nor very naturally human. Such strongly conformist individuals are known for their strong ethnocentrism and authoritarianism of personality, which suggests neurotic dependencies and a general rigidity and inflexibility of personality structure, and suggests concealed personality disorders and even psychotic dispositions. If we call this socially normal, then we must question the norms themselves.

It can be seen therefore that cultural and psychological relativity is inherent to our understanding of these complex issues such that it is difficult to draw facile ageneralizations about them. The individual variability of personality is part of the uniqueness of humankind, and characteristic of the inherent unfinishedness of the human condition. It is an indication of the great trait plasticity that people are subject to, not just at the genetic level, but at a phenotypic and behavioral level.


Consideration of the inherent complexities of cultural patterns, or the cybernetics of cultural systems, leads to the reconsideration of the problem posed at the start of this last part. This is the question of gene-culture co-evolution and the extent to which sociobiological factors can be said to influence the patterning of culture and the outcomes of cultural functioning. And this issue serves to relate an intrinsic theoretical shortcoming to the hypothesis of culture, and that is the role of historical dynamics in its articulation and unfolding.

Culture as it is scientifically understood is construed as a kind of clockwork device that ticks its way through time in a steady way. Emphasis on cultural equilibrium, pattern, and boundaries, leads to a conceptioning of culture as something superorganic with a life of its own, and subject to its own rules and laws that govern its patterning. But we know that the actual histories of all people are subject to a kind of open-ended chaos and uncertainty of happenstance and random change that defies such ordered description.

We know for instance that cultures frequently come into contact with one another and we cannot always clearly predict the results. Histories are usually affairs of unintended consequences and chance chain reactions of indirect factors. There were no a priori cultural principles that determined that Hitler should have lost World War II. If he had succeeded, undoubtedly our histories would be written very differently, and our resulting cultural patterns would also be very different as a consequence. A whole number of chance variables influenced the net outcome, and probably made it highly unlikely that he could have succeeded, but in such a world almost anything becomes possible and some things remain impossible.

Translating our understanding of cultural patterning and process, as somehow well-ordered and predictable patterns, into the kind of open ended and chance process demonstrated by the archaeological and historical record. Often one period of cultural flouressence and civilization becomes followed by a burn layer and new periods of totally different patterns, suggests that perhaps the cultural structure of the long run is something other than stable and steady-state.

I believe that, in order to fully comprehend this issue, we must go back to our primes about the relationship between nature and culture and the notion of cultural selectionism. The cultural imperative of humankind, is that of adaptive survival and reproductive success. That cultural symbolization is largely put to this task explains a great deal of cultural patterning. Cultural selectionism has arisen as the result of the success of cultural adaptations in conferring greater fitness upon human beings in the biological realm.

This success has been so great in fact, that it led to the culturation of humankind. If we are social and cultural animals, it must be understood that on some basic level we remain animals, regardless of our cultural pretensions of being civilized and refined. The same patterns of cultural selectionism that has conferred success on the human species in the wild, transforming much of the world into a cultural realm, also have been at work in the patterning of culture itself. There occurs a continuous competitive struggle between individuals, and between groups, for success and survival.

This never-ending struggle has socio-biological origins, but has been transformed symbolically such that it has come to express itself in cultural terms and cultural contexts. Competition is inherent to the definition of biological life forms, and therefore is most basic to our own identity as biological beings. In this regard, not even an altruistic gene gets off the hook, as in such a framework, selfless on one atomistic level, is based on selfishness on another, population level.

From this one principle alone, it is guaranteed that human beings will always engage in competition against one another on some level and in some way. Whether this is expressed economically, socially, ideologically or militarily does not matter so much except that the entire patterning of human structuration is not one of universal human equality, but one of inequality based on competitive advantage. To impose standards of universal equality on one level in a group is necessarily to induce uneven competition on some other level, as the superimposition of such standards is bound to result in the application of double standards.

In this sense, if we follow these kinds of patterns, we can explain the anthropological construction of reality clearly in terms that allow us to understand the history of unintended consequences that largely arises from inter-human competitive struggle.

In competitive human struggle involving more than two persons, we must assume, according to game theory, that coalitional structures will arise that will simplify the playing field and give uneven advantage to in-group/out-group members.

In any group organization, to be adaptive and competitive, we must assume certain things will happen. There will form hierarchical stratification within the group, such that some individuals will gain unequal advantage of resources, opportunities and power within the system and others will have blanket disadvantage. This stratification, occurring symbolically and culturally patterned, will become institutionalized and institutionally reinforced, such that conformity to the culture will be measured by the degree to which individuals conform to the expectations and implicit sanctions or demands placed upon them in their segregated status-role configurations. This occurs even in small communities where most interactions are face-to-face, and there is status-manipulation through information control and gossip behind people's back. Generally, such manipulation, as part of the normal conversational apparatus, serves the purpose of reinforcing the internalized hierarchy of relations.

Externally, we can expect that a boundary between groups and members of different groups will form, and this will become expressed ethno-culturally in terms of ethnocentric prejudices and out-group projection, and will lead to competitive patterns that either tend to become increasingly unequal or else lead to conflict. Ethno-schismogenesis describes the pattern of boundary maintenance and reinforcement of co-evolutionary structures of cultural differences between two or more groups.

In a complex playing field of two or more groups, game theory dictates that coalitional structures will arise that lead to the success of larger and more unified groupings at the expense of isolated and atomized groupings. Either the smaller group will be annihilated, as being disconsonant with the cultural configuration of the dominant group, or it will become incorporated or internally colonized in such a manner as to render the structure of relationships between the two groups unequal and exploitative. The subordinate group will suffer a degree of deculturation or cultural displacement, which can be seen as a radical form of disruptive acculturation.

There thus arises between ethnocultural groupings, each distinguished by its own sense of cultural patterning and civilization, a competitive struggle that is symbolically expressed. This competitive struggle between cultural groupings is not unlike the struggle between populations and groups in the natural world, though in the human world it takes on more deliberate and violent characteristics.

It sometimes occurs that groups cannot easily defeat one another by open conflict, or they may have economic or other exchange relationships that serve to establish a kind of cultural ecosystem of equilibrium between the two groups. A kind of coalitional structure is established that leads to controlled conflict or mediated competition between the groupings. This patterning is culturally defined and circumscribed.

Coalitional structures in social organization can be seen to result in social institutions that regulate inter-human relationships at all levels. Familial and kinship patterns and marriage customs are basic institutions that regulate coalitional structures on a very basic level. All groupings of human beings are found to have kinship structures that are fairly patterned and institutionalized and that are culturally and symbolically expressed in language and in social relationships. Larger structures are built up from these kinds of basic structures, that embrace larger communities of human beings through time and across place. The problem of integrating and coordinating large groups of people in effective coalitional institutions results in emergent patterns of social stratification and structuration that characterize different societies.

Coalitional structures in human society, as corporate affairs that extend beyond the biographical boundaries of any of its members, must become regulated by a set of customary rules that are culturally embedded. These structural patterns as in kinship structure, are remarkably consistent, even predictable based upon certain basic adaptive conditions. The patterning of political organization of larger groups, for instance in tribes and in chieftaincies, and later in ritual-religious city-states and in larger administrative states, is also remarkably uniform and predictable across cultures, such that it is a basis for a science itself. It appears that people in general have discovered or come by these institutional forms not by deliberate effort, but serendipitously as the result of a set of extentuating circumstances that conditioned human response patterns in groups. That they appear to share such structural similarities arises from the same structural considerations underlying our understanding of different human languages.

It is beyond the scope of this particular work to fully explore these issues of the social organization of human reality, but only to reiterate that these processes are also symbolically embedded in cultural patterns and take on characteristics of this patterning. These institutional and functional patterns of normal societies the world over are characteristic of all human societies, from the most simple to the most complex, and are yet developing in directions we do not fully understand.

All of these kind of social structural patterns are cultural contextualized and are rule patterned and are symbolically mediated within any social grouping. That these structures take on some many variations and possibilities, some of which appear systematic, forms the basis for the study of cross-cultural and social anthropology.

It has been my claim that since biological competition underlies all forms of human social interaction, and it is always symbolically expressed in culturally defined terms, that this symbolic expression of human social competition comes to express itself and become defined in certain characteristic symbolic ways. Namely, in the aggregation of material surplus, including the exploitation of other people, and in the expression of a worldview of limited good, such that "one person's gain is another's loss" which leads to the victimization of other people.

These two forms of symbolic expression of human social competition are logical outcomes of the social competition hypothesis, and are complementary to one another in that the former comes to express itself especially in terms of primary social institutions that serve the purpose of adaptive survival and reproductive success. Elite social groups tend to appropriate surplus material wealth or social resources to themselves, through inordinate control. They do this through institutions enforcing tributary relationships, redistribution of wealth, plunder or direct exploitation of human labor capital. If they cannot do it through legal or moral injunction of their society, then they will tend to do it through paralegal means, which entails a form of corruption. If the distribution of wealth in a society is uneven and unequal, so to is the distribution of corruption.

The later form, of a worldview of limited good, though it appears to be contradicted by the notion of appropriation of surplus wealth, is in fact a logical outcome of a secondary institutional pattern that inherently reinforces the former pattern. It does this by providing the moral and symbolic legitimization for inequality, and secondarily by providing the administrative and military authority and power to enforce these unequal relations. Thus, it can be seen that imperial armies do not march on their frontier neighbors out of starvation and a lack of want in their home territories. They do it in a spirit of plunder and power that will derive from the subordination and defeat of their weaker neighbors.

These processes arise out of cultural selectionism, and are therefore rooted to a deeper biological basis in natural selection patterns, but are invariably symbolically mediated and culturally conditioned and contextualized. Thus people share more culturally than just their symbolic relation to the world. They also share a common predicament and sense of being in the world that is derived from their own biological foundations. I would call this form of social competition a form of social selectionism that is involved in the human cultural game of life. The fittest survive. But in this game, the fittest are not necessarily the strongest, but the most intelligent. The end game is not directly reproductive or adaptive success. It becomes cultural control. It is therefore in this sense an unnatural imperative. This process has many psychological facets attached to it that are to be considered fundamentally neurotic and destructive.

I believe that a certain personality configuration is a measure of both the extent to which cultural patterning has been internalized in an individual personality configuration and also a measure of the relative social fitness an individual has in any given cultural pattern. The most appropriate psychological term for this is authoritarianism, and the anthropological equivalent is the relative expression of ethnocentrism. Strong character dispositions that are inflexible and culturally dependent upon external manifestations of stimuli constitute a certain kind of structured personality that is consonant with the predominant ethos of any society.

Indeed, I would claim that authoritarian personalities exhibit on average an unusual degree of what I would call symbolic dependency, or the unusual attachment to symbolisms, especially as these are expressed socially in cultural contexts. Underlying this form of symbolic dependency may be a pattern of neurotic perception referred to as frame and field dependency, but this connection has not been yet clearly established.

It is not too difficult to understand that someone who exhibits strong attachment to external symbolisms, would exhibit a neurotic need to manipulate and control such stimuli. This in turn may be associated with the principles stated above, that social competition will become symbolically expressed in patterns tied to the monopolization of surplus wealth and the control and violence of other people.

Authoritarian personality characteristics show up expectedly in all cultural configurations, with the expectable differentials in terms of the variance of cultural patterning itself. Authoritarian structures reinforce a social patterning that develops in many institutional contexts in society, and that is the formation of social authoritarian power structures. Authoritarian power structures are made possible within the cultural parameters of any system, and to an extent are indirectly sanctioned and valorized, or at least rationalized, in terms that are culturally acceptable. These structures tend to attract and to reinforce individuals who are themselves strongly authoritarian.

What underlies authoritarianism. Repression of personality seems to be a common feature of authoritarian character. Repression of personality is based upon social conformity and internalization of socio-cultural mechanisms of control. I would suggest that this form of repression is basically sexual repression. Generally, what is repressed will become expressed in some altered manner. One form of its expression will be in terms of projection of perceived negative qualities upon members of out-groups.

A social patterning is established in authoritarian power structures, such that the internal grouping is hierarchically ranked, and status control is the principle preoccupation of members of the group. In order to maintain a rigid boundary around such a group, to limit passing in and out of the group and control of information to the outside world, there is a need to enforce a strict uniformity. There is thus also a corresponding need to find out-groups that function effectively as scapegoats for the displacement of violent aggression (arising from internalized frustration, arising from repression) that is a result of frustration and repression entailed in strict conformity. Such tight structures are often built on a strict pecking order, and a rigid rank structure, with the top of the hierarchy controlled by an elite with totalitarian type control.

Maintenance of order and solidarity within such a power structure generally requires channeling aggression upon members of out-groups, and the mobilization of the group against such out-groups. Often this serves the dual purpose of aggrandizement of the top and augmentation of the authority and power of those in control of such social systems.

In general, to effectively target out-groups and members of out-groups, they must be construed as somehow inhuman, or fundamentally dehumanized by stereotyping. Symbolic stereotypes that bestialize out-groups and anthropomorphize animals in the form of such out-groups, serve the purposes of group solidarity and mobilization of violent action against such out-groups.

People cannot personalize or identify with people whom they are exploiting or victimizing, at least not in any humanizing manner. If we humanize our enemy, then we give them a human face, an individual personality. We begin seeing that they are not unlike ourselves, and suffer like we suffer. At some point, their suffering may become our suffering as well.

These kinds of patterns of prejudice take very rudimentary symbolic forms as found in response patterns to inkblot tasks. In other words they derive from very deep origins in the core of the personality, composing very basic symbolic structures. They are in a sense the most common denominators of symbolic content. They may stem from very deep-seated conflicting patterns, and suggest the action of such repression of personality.

Sexual repression suggests a linkage to reproductive selection, one that is nonetheless symbolically mediated. It is a deep issue to explore, but it becomes linked critically to one's own social status-identity via the dominant group. In a sense, one is made more powerful by symbolic attachment to collective representations of power. This is like a symbolic surrogate to sexual conquest, and is the result of frustration in sexual prowess. Authoritarian character appears to be positively correlated with low achievement motivation, in the sense that authoritarian characters are no high personal achievers. They tend to hide their individual identity through group conformity.

There is a sense that all people have some authoritarianism in their character, and can be taught to hate and commit violence on other people. In this, almost no one is completely immune. It has been well observed that the suggestive power of Hitler's demonstrations would be very difficult to resist, indeed impossible if you were German. The crowd response would sweep people up into a blind conformism and gut reaction, regardless of their own personal feelings or attitudes. But it is also true that many people are more completely authoritarian than others.

The same processes generally hold for members of subgroups within such a society that have been placed in subordinate and exploitative positions in relation to the dominant group. The purposes are to maintain segregation and competitive exclusion while at the same time maintaining relations of exploitation.

Authoritarianism is not mental illness, though in its extreme form it can be a gateway to such illness. But authoritarianism can also be an individual's final system of defense against such incipient illness and disordering, especially in complex environments. Thus we can see that the pull and stability of authoritarianism is strong for those who may otherwise lack necessary ego-defense mechanisms for succeeding in the world. In this sense, authoritarianism is a haven for the mediocre.

Authoritarianism is social psychologically reinforced, such that the individual comes to adhere more strictly to the group norms, and group norms tend to become more strict. Some societies tend to ingrain culturally authoritarianism more completely and effectively than other societies, such as in some contexts, for instance in East Asian societies with a strong Confucian ethos, authoritarian character is almost isomorphic with cultural character. In such instances, people evince patterning that is fundamentally different in the sense that there appears to be a fundamental split or duality of personality that is largely context dependent, and that bespeaks a certain modicum of contextual deindividuation of character.

If we are to distinguish authoritarians as an orientation and type of personality configuration, marked by symbolic rigidity and dependency, then we must consider the other end of the continuum and ask what is the relative non-authoritarian like. If the non-authoritarian is only to be defined anti-thetic to the authoritarian, in being relatively symbolically flexible and independent of personality compared to the authoritarian, then we are setting up a tautological gradient by which we can put all people on a sliding scale of authoritarianism. It is apparent that there may be fundamental differences, from birth, in personality types of individuals.

Some individuals on a very basic level appear to be quite selfish and self-centered, tending towards projection of hostility upon others and selfish manipulation. These individuals appear to me to be prime candidates for development of an authoritarian complex. Other individuals appear to me to be fundamentally the opposite, quite unselfish, open, and other involved, tending toward introjection of hostility upon themselves and a kind of codependency with others. It would be too much to speak of the real possibility of a "selfish gene" that distinguished people on a very basic level, but I am more inclined towards environmental explanations. In general, strong authoritarianism is learned through parents culturally and socially, and not genetically. And these patterns are reinforced through life, increasingly in some circumstances to the extent that they become socially reinforced in the character of the individual.

Authoritarians appear to make good task masters, strict disciplinarians and loyal followers and obedient servants, but they do not make necessarily the best leaders, original thinkers or change agents of a society that is subject to stress and change. And this is a paradox, because the strong ethos that produces strong authoritarianism does not necessarily benefit society in the long run, but can lead to the debilitation of society.

This brings up the aspect of authoritarianism that relates it as a form of cultural selectionism that I would call competitive social selectionism, albeit not the same kind of social selectionism that necessarily occurs in the animal kingdom. The purposes of this selectionism are neither necessarily adaptation or genetic survival. At this level, the purposes and motivations of human behavior no longer directly serve genetic interests, but appear to be fundamentally attached to symbolic forms of status-role identity in society. These serve both selfish human interests and social interests in the maintenance or change of the status quo of a cultural system.

We return to a form of social Darwinism or survival of the fittest in society that has only indirect linkages to actual genetic differentials between people, but are clearly marked by strong symbolic expressions. It is a new game of human social evolution that has all the earmarks of human biological evolution but none of the consequences.

And thus we can explain primitive economics as warfare by other means and primitive warfare as economics by other means. We can explain the rise of chieftaincies, priests, state societies, bureaucrats and technocrats, as the outcome of the symbolic patterning of response that human social competition has come to take on in the history and prehistory of humankind.

Indirectly, there may be a connection back to the individual's ability to succeed, but generally this has less to do with real adaptive survival and genetic copulatory success, so much as it has to do with the success of the individual in social and cultural terms. It is a symbolic outcome of the drive for reproductive success, but it serves different ends.

In this form of social selectionism, it is not always the case the authoritarian will win out over the relatively non-authoritarian. The authoritarian appears to have the advantage when it comes to social manipulation and conformity, but it is not obvious that in conditions demanding individual achievement and excellence, creativity or innovative intelligence, that strong authoritarianism necessarily wins the race. And if we believe that authoritarianism is merely a function of education that the more educated we become, the more we shed our authoritarian character traits, then we are mistaken, but authoritarianism has its strong academic forms of expression.

Thus in social selectionism, there appears to be shifting advantage of circumstances that will favor authoritarianism or relative non-authoritarianism. In times of great change, societies are frequently faced with a basic challenge, as in such times the great natural tendency is to react with increasing conformity and authoritarianism to preserve the status quo. But during such periods also, new agencies of change must arise within a society, usually from the non-authoritarian peripheries, to create new patterns in the society to provide the instrumentality for adaptation and renewed success of social institutions. Generally, such forms of change cannot be expected from strongly authoritarian personality types.

But we do not have to look at periods of great crises and conflict to find examples of differential social selectionism in human society. We can find it in countless incidents in every day social life, in the expression of normal social competition of getting ahead and losing the game of life. Achievement of status identity in society, by hook or by crook, is critical not only to one's fortunes and biological well being, but to one's sense of identity and mental health. But achieving it at any cost can lead to a kind of Pyrrhic victory in which the costs were greater than the rewards. Many people indeed deliberately manipulate in a calculated and deceptive manner in order to get ahead in life.

This calculus of social competition in everyday life can be quite convoluted and tricky. One does not have to necessarily be the most diligent or brightest student to appear bright in the teachers eyes, especially if a teacher is herself authoritarian in character. Thus many students get ahead by merely pleasing the teacher in blind conformity, while others may learn that they can at least make other students look bad in their teachers eyes. And so we have the emergence of everyday social politics in the construction of social realities. A few win and many lose. Whether we want to characterize it as yard-ape ethics, or chicken coop realities, or King of the hill, it can be said to be quite pervasive and common in almost all human societies, regardless of cultural constraints and parameters of conformity.

This brings up the notion of the relationship of symbolic ideology to worldview. I would define symbolic ideology as a closed system of belief and collective representation that is not open to change or to alternative understanding. It becomes defined through strong authoritarian and ethnocentric commitment by the people who come to enact and embody its values and beliefs in a collective sense. If we need examples of symbolic ideology, we do not have to look very far to find it, and again, being in school does not necessarily make a person immune from the shortcomings of ideological commitment.

There is an inherent feedback system in the ideological construction of reality. We can say that those who are strongly committed to a particular worldview have a strong need to reinforce and maintain this worldview. If this worldview is very narrow and rigid, it cannot be tolerant of a wide range of variation or alternation of symbolic point of view. It demands strong characteriological conversions by its members, strong sharing and cultural conformism, to the point of becoming true-believers. It seeks to annihilate or to reform alternative symbolic orientations and personality configurations that may contradict with its narrowly proscribed socio-symbolic order. This also leads to stereotypical projection and often acts of violence projected on out-groups. This is necessary to the symbolic boundary-maintenance function that demands rigid and narrow adaptive equilibrium of members of a group.

On the other hand, to adjust to and succeed within such systems, a measure of blind and "deceptive" conformity is demanded by most members, and rendered by most members, which serves to socially sanction and indirectly reinforce the pattern through group conformity and constraint. Narrow worldviews lead to narrow and rigid world orders, and rigid world orders beget narrow worldviews.

In considering Aldous Huxley's Brave New World Revisited, we can remark that in any given society, the normal character is very susceptible, indeed, hyper-suggestible, to conformism that lends itself to blind obedience and also, paradoxically, at times blind disobedience. Few people can be expected to withstand the full pressures to social conformity, especially if it leads to punishment, ostracism or even annihilation within the system.

Indeed, many indications suggest that in higher education ideological paradigmatic commitments, being more intellectually rationalized, are in fact more pervasive and invidious in their hypocrisy than more directly expressed forms of prejudice and intolerance. Indeed, I would claim that paradigmatic closure about any field of understanding, is largely the consequence of ideological commitment to a certain paradigm of belief within the field. We often arrive at such commitments not by deliberate choice, but by default of intellectual independence and by conformity to the choices others impose upon us.

It is characteristic of our worldviews and our symbol systems that they foster a sense of completeness and symbolic closure about our understanding of things in the world. Our symbolizations have the power of smoothing out contradictions and resolving discrepancies that exist in the world. Especially, they serve to provide us a sense of continuity of experience and universal coherence about the world, and help us to resolve the experience of alternate or marginal realities that causes ambiguity and discrepancy of pattern in our lives. There is a survival advantage in the fear to die, and the fear of death perhaps arises from an inability to understand death, as well as a natural proclivity to avoid it at all costs.

It is interesting that the very form of cognitive dissonance that drives strong commitment to symbol systems, namely the need to resolve and deal with marginalizing experiences of death, appears to serve the same basic interests of human survival and adaptive success as the avoidance of death through trait fitness does in natural selection. In a similar way, it is interesting that the sexual drives that may underlie many of our motivations for achievement of status and authoritarianism in society, may serve the same sorts of interests in human reproductive success, albeit indirectly in social success, as it does in reproductive selection in the natural world.

I believe the notion of sexual sublimation and repression has merit, but I do not think that it is the exclusive drive of all people all the time. I believe that people have an innate aggressiveness about their being that is a reflection of their will to survival and succeed in life. This aggressiveness is perhaps more basic and more diffuse in its drive of human behavior patterning, but it is also perhaps the stronger and more pervasive form of human motivation that exists. That this drive may be fundamentally frustrated and channeled in different ways suggests that it is symbolically malleable in human character. We can put it to good purposes in human constructiveness and creativity. Equally, we can put it to destructive purposes as well. That both are frequently the case is easy to see in human reality. That it is often easier to destroy than it is to construct seems to obey some law of human entropy and averages, such that no matter how hard we work to build things up, someone will eventually come along to knock it all back down again.


Our world is ordered symbolically. This is to say that we have constructed our world culturally, and the order we have imposed upon the world is the order that comes ultimately from within our own complex brains. So far, in the long run, our cultural constructions and selectionism have served us well in our adaptive survival and reproductive success on earth. No one can argue this. That it was only achieved in spite of a great deal of violence, bloodshed and victimization also cannot be argued.

That these epigenetic cultural constructions are not directly tied to genetic foundations can be demonstrated clearly by the independent variability of this patterning in spite of genetic distributions among human populations.

Consideration of our cultural ordering of the world, and the degree of consonance and equilibrium we strive to achieve between this ordering and our own views of the world, leads to the notion of the competition of ideologies in the world.

It is evident that authoritarian personalities often try to impose their view of the world upon others, and attempt to maintain a strict concordance of internal worldviews and external world orders. This is so much the case that they tend to adopt a material and literal and denotative view of their symbolism that precludes much metaphorical variation, connotation and imagination of alternatives.

Alternatives in the world are considered a threat to such a view of the world, that can be described as ideologically closed. It is not surprising that such attitudes coalesce into shared authoritarian coalitional structures that are mutually reinforcing, and that groups, characterized by some closed ideology, and committed to its realization of order in the world, will seek to impose this view of the world upon others.

Ideology as a closed minded view of the world is characteristic of authoritarian power structures in the world. Ideology, as noted above, has what can be referred to as paradigmatic functions in the organization of social relations, productivity and behavior in society. We might call the symbolic function of Ideology as one that is "totalizing" in the sense that it achieves, or strives to achieve at least, total integration of the world order along the lines of a single integrated symbolic system of rationalization. Needless to say, it is clear that totalizing ideologies beget totalitarian world orders.

We can therefore speculate on a kind of ideological competition occurring in the world between competing and contraposed symbolic systems. These systems rarely seem to coexist in harmony with one another in shared spaces. As a result of this kind of ideological competition, we can speculate as well on a kind of paradigmatic selectionism occurring among such systems such that some kinds of systems will win out over others.

The consequence of this kind of competitive process and selectionism can be said to be the emergence of what have been called World Systems. These can be seen as politically and economically integrated state societies that achieve predominance over the entire world, or at least over the significant portion of the known world. We can speak of the ancient state societies as world systems, of sorts. The Roman Empire was perhaps the first true world system to emerge on the stage of humankind. It was relatively stable and long lasting, and Roman culture gave a new and legal meaning to authority and authoritarianism. The interesting aspects of such systems are that they are civilizations in a grand sense as being integrated symbolically in interesting and complex ways, often with legal, religious, economic and other structural relations that are symbolically enshrined and embedded in the system.

Subsequent to the demise of the Roman Empire, after a long period of feudal atomization, we've had the gradual rise of nation-state societies, with their attendant cultural and civilizing patterns. The current nation-state system that has come, in the last few decades, to experience the predominance of a single entity, the United States, in a new kind of Pax Americana. There occurred two early imperial-colonial periods that could have been characterized, especially by the time of Queen Victoria, as the Pax Britannica, but this was incipient to and remains part of the current world system, and this was destroyed by the combined affects of the first two World Wars.

This world system has been called the Capitalist World system and has been based on one of political economic incorporation and encapsulation of all societies within an international capitalist market structure. Within this structure there are asymmetrical structural relations between developed and underdeveloped societies that tend to be politically and militarily reinforced.

The stability of this system is inherently undermined by the competitive nature of nations within the system, such that no nation can be assured of following any paradigm of international law. Some rogue nations that have been excluded from full participation in the system threaten its stability, and shifting spheres of power and influence between different regions also lead to its future instability. Furthermore, it is apparent that the structural patterning of American society upon which it was originally founded, is also gradually but radically and irreversibly changing, such that its empire has come home.

Capitalist ideology and worldview upon which the system has been founded, appears to be fundamentally at odds with democratic ideology and worldview from which the system arose in the first place. There appears to be a fundamental tradeoff between efficiency and equality such that the further promotion of capitalist development in the world, will result in the structuration of greater inequality in the world, and will tend to increasingly preclude democratic initiatives arising in underdeveloped societies. All in the name of the world order.

I would suggest that in the structure of the long run, particular mono-cultural world systems derivative of successful ideological world orders always and eventually give way to other competing systems. The competitive foundations upon which any system is based is likely to be the source of its own eventual demise. We do not need to understand the fall of Rome to predict the fall of the Pax Americana. I would suggest also that the foundation of any established world order is likely to change inexorably as the result of trans-cultural processes of human civilization, what can be called, without ethnocentric attributions, progressive modernization of human development.

In this, we can look to the effects of new information revolutions that are sweeping around the world. Part of the consequences of these kinds of trans-culturative trends have been a globalization of modern culture, or rather the emergence of a new kind of third culture that is inherently global in scope, perspective and commitment. Of course, this third culture must transcend nation-state boundaries and prerogatives, and this pattern is itself very unequally distributed between the haves of the first world and the have-nots of the rest of the world.

One effect has been an increasing amount of economic integration on a global level that seems to some extent to preclude the possibility of regional or interregional conflict. Of course, this kind of economic stability is very fragile, based as it has been on competitive political control structures. As long as the gains from economic cooperation appear to exceed the possible gains achieved from warfare, especially with the horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, it can be seen that there is a inherent deterrence to going to total war. But this kind of deterrent effect cannot be relied upon in the long run, especially if and when global economic conditions begin deteriorating substantially.


The model of human civilization I have offered is an ideational one based on the symbolic integration of human reality. This kind of symbolic-ideological model is naturally insufficient to economists and political scientists and similar types of social scientists who look to consistent patterns of social relations and social structures occurring in the world that are the result of consistent human action and interaction. I have not addressed these materialist and behavioral theories not because they are without merit. There is great order and systematic structure apparent in economic and political patterning of human society, and in its institutional and organizational patterning. For any human information system to be complete as a comprehensive theoretical explanation, these must be also taken into account. Not unlike the rule patterning of language, the structural patterning of many institutional forms in human social life that involve the structural articulation of social systems are rule governed. The basis of these rule systems is as implicit and self-organizing in the natural order of things as they are mandated and conventionally prescribed within cultural contexts. As cybernetic systems they are no less systemic than any other pattern we find in nature.

The anthropological contributions to these areas of inquiry in larger order structural patterns of human social organization has been largely in the demonstration of the wide cultural variability and systematicity of basic regularity exhibited by these historical systems. Thus, many models developed primarily in reference to modern and developed systems may be fundamentally inadequate to deal with primitive and undeveloped structures. We cannot say that the form of primitive social economic system developed in New Guinea Highland societies are any less anthropologically interesting or complex than mercantile capitalism in the New England states. Both systems can be described in terms of equilibrium equations and preservation of functional stability of their respective social orders.

I would suggest only in passing that the sense of order and rule-patterned structure of these higher-order social institutions and structures that recur in human societies cross-culturally, and that exhibit so many parallels and homologies, derive from the same sorts of basic symbolic considerations that drive cultural and social construction processes in the first place. People organize themselves into social groupings and behave in ways that comes to be rule-like in its patterning. They respond functionally and symbolically with institutional structures that are very comparable to one another in structure and function and serve very similar sets of purposes across wide cultural distances.

It is no where clear to me that just because money can buy a lot of things, that money as a basic medium of a global political economy should be any less symbolic thereby. Of course, behind money is resource exchange, and behind resource exchanges lie the basic issues of human survival and success. But it is equally true that the material and market mechanisms that have come to centrally mediate these exchange processes are as imbued with symbolic import as words are in everyday language, and even more. Money buys a lot of things that are fundamentally immaterial. It buys security, status, power, freedom, and influence, among a lot of other social intangibles that can only be interpreted symbolically. And there have been cases where foreign people's money just has no inherent value within a local cultural system. Economic values themselves are based upon cultural symbolic values attached to these things.

The rise of social, political and economic structures in human societies, particularly in the contexts of advanced state civilization, has been the subject of a great deal of study and analysis. The material and behavioral expressions of cultural and social systems have not been the central subject of this treatment of human systems, though perhaps they should and could have been more systematically treated. All such systems have basic and important functions in the organization and adaptive survival of human beings.

I would say that such systems are also symbolic, and they are the result of, and in turn lead to, social action theories that forms the foundation of a systematic history of humankind. Social action is symbolically patterned and mediated, and becomes symbolically reinforced through social processes of institutionalization. Thus I see such systems as essentially expressions of culture historical patterns of civilization that can be sufficiently encompassed in terms derived from the theories of the anthropological construction of reality.

I have sought instead to deal with the problems of authoritarianism in social life, and its consequences for humanity, because this has been a problem that Anthropology has always somehow regarded as a taboo topic even though it appears to be common and even prevalent in most societies.

Frequently anthropologists go through the romance and relativization of becoming members of some foreign culture, only to discover deep and well hidden insider secrets of human cruelty, violence and exploitation that tarnishes and creates a great deal of ambivalence in their cross-cultural perspective. Often, the theoretical constructs anthropology offers are inadequate to explain or deal with these kinds of issues in a sufficient way. Indeed, the perspective of authoritarianism is in many respects antithetical to many theoretical constructs of cultural anthropology. Similarly, I have sought to undertake a theoretical understanding of human conflict and the proclivity to violence and warfare, as these are common and recurrent manifestations of human reality that tie to disequilibriation of human social systems and to historical change processes in general.

In essence, political economic and socio-economic and social structural patterns in the world, whether they are state systems or larger interregional entities, are basically historical systems and must be understood in many ways that we understand the evolutionary history of ecosystems. Thus, we confer to them inner functional balances and homeostasis as normally occurring systems, and we come to understand their patterning through processes of periodic disruption. Human history indeed has had its many high points and its many saddle points.


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