Sunday, May 13, 2007

Summary of Security

It would be useful at this point to summarize what I think I know regarding security. People identify themselves with distinct characteristics they have that are worth preserving and being held by more people. In open systems, clearly identifiable groups can survive and grow with minimal interference from each other; but in closed systems where they must interact with each other, they will compete for resources and membership (threatening or feeling threatened in the process), with increasing violence.

People can continue to compete, or choose to redefine their groups to include the characteristics of other groups. There are risks involved in both courses of action. Competition can result in the domination of a limited number of characteristics, which if conditions change enough, could result in the destruction of the entire population. Redefinition could result in a reduction in the ability (willingness) for the population to adapt to situations that, for survival, demand the dominance of a limited set of characteristics. I can’t resist comparing this latter option to the “heat death” associated with maximum entropy, because we might also lose any uniqueness that carries intrinsic value.

Given that biological evolution of humans has effectively stopped, the “characteristics” I’m referring to are either cultural (religious, governmental, artistic, and so on) or only superficially biological. The technologies of communication and transportation, coupled with the difficulty of settling other worlds, have made Earth effectively a closed system, and we are now seeing the consequences of different cultures competing for dominance even as their differences become fewer and fewer.

“Freedom” has been a useful way of establishing a middle road, enabling groups to coexist while partially redefining them as part of a collective whole. This is reflected in the increase in life satisfaction attendant with increases in civil liberties and minimally controlled dissemination of information. Violence also increases with freedom, but its growth is attenuated.

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