The Society of HumanKind
The Society of HumanKind is a world-wide organisation based on local groups and communities. As such it has many parallels with the political structure of our world. Although the Discourse of the first founding book, 'Foundations', makes it clear that the Society cannot replace, and therefore should not seek to supplant, those political institutions, it does not go on to discuss the relationship between the two. It is as well to take the opportunity to make some comment on that question in these Essays. If neglected it may provide a fertile source for conflict and misunderstanding.
The potential for conflict arises from an overlap between the area of interest of the Society and that of politicians. Both politicians and the Society have an abiding concern with the structure of our social order, in how we maintain stable co-operative social relationships and cope with the problems of balancing group and individual interests; long and short term objectives; order and liberty, and the host of other conflicts which the communal habits of our species generate.
However, the shared interest of the Society and politicians can never result in their developing a common view of these problems, because they approach that shared ground from totally different directions. The emergence of the Aim, Duty and Responsibility of the Society owes nothing to the political ambition to reform or restructure our social relations. Those three statements are solely an attempt to set out a meaning and purpose of our lives that does not depend on any belief in God, his competitors, or any other form of predestination for humanity.
The differences between the Society and politicians can be summarised. The Society is concerned with the outcome of our social structures, and the processes and relationships derived from them, rather than their form. Whereas for the politician form is likely to be of much more importance, and may indeed be the prime concern. It may, for instance, be of burning importance to a politician that our social system and structures should conform to some political theory or principle (free enterprise, democracy, socialism, etc.). To the Society however, all that matters is the effect of the system; does it provide a safe and stable environment for our infinite survival, and allow for our progress?
The reason for the interest of the Society and politicians in our social life may be different, but the impulse to intervene is common. Herein lays the source of potential conflict. Politicians may wish to change a well-established and stable social system because they disagree with the form of its structure. The Society however, would oppose that action as an unnecessary disturbance of our social order whose benefits are hardly ever likely to justify the risk. Indeed, almost as a general rule, the impulse of the politician is to innovate and change, while the Society will tend toward restraint and conservation.
Many possible conflicts of this type may therefore be imagined. Yet they must all be resolved since the Society cannot allow itself to become a source of friction or division within our species. Which gives a clue to the inevitable answer and draws attention to the importance of the Principle of Progress, and particularly the Principle 3.2 in this regard. Applying that Principle to this problem the Society will conclude that, whenever the Society or any part of its membership finds its debate with the political structures of our societies in danger of degenerating into forceful conflict, the well of uncertainty should be drawn upon. Then any risk to the stability of our social order will be removed by the Society conceding the battlefield to its opponents.
That should be the case even where concession results in damage to the Condition of the Dogma that requires the Society to maintain continuous growth in human knowledge, and not excluding harm which is so extensive that our knowledge stagnates or is actually diminished. However bleak the immediate prospect for the growth of our knowledge may be, the Society can legitimately contain itself in patience in the hope of better times to come, a position more fully argued and documented in the Essay on Life. These are circumstances however, in which it would be proper for the Society to exert its full power and influence, short of precipitating an internecine confrontation, in an effort to maintain that Condition of the Dogma.
The Society will take a different view however, of any political action which threatens the survival of our species. Then the Society must not withdraw its opposition even at the risk of a forceful reaction by its opponents. It is difficult to imagine circumstances that might give rise to this possibility, but it is at least conceivable that a political, or perhaps some other, movement may arise that is dedicated to the destruction of humanity, or any extinction level proportion of it, or which adopts a course of action that must necessarily have that effect. If such a suicidal movement emerges then the Society will have no choice other than to embark on whatever course of action is necessary to frustrate it in its purpose. Consistent that is, with the ultimate survival of our species, which must always remain the overriding objective of any action taken by the Society.
The Society assumes an awesome moral burden when it embarks on conflict with politicians, but to fail to act with vigour and promptitude to defend and further its Aim would be to betray its Responsibility, both to its predecessors and to posterity. The hope must be that the Society will always find means to avoid such dangerous confrontations. For that reason, every Council and Committee of the Society must constantly be on guard to anticipate and forestall political developments contrary to its Aim, before the point of conflict is reached.
As so often is the case with the questions examined in this collection of Essays, many difficult decisions in the field of political activity must be left to be made by those who have no choice other than to face them. The advice and prescriptions here set out contain much that can be read as requiring the Society to monitor and to judge our politicians and the structures and systems they create. The reader will, recognise however, that in all the effort to clarify the view of the Society on the proper relationship between politicians and the Society, this Essay contains no element of moral judgement on politics in any of its many manifestations.
That indeed exemplifies the differences in the approach of the Society and politicians to their common ground. It is not the manner of the actions of politicians, or their motivation, that should concern the Society. It is solely the likely consequences of what they propose or intend to do.
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