Here are listed a few quick notes, reminders and personal opinions about “culture” in its widest definition in evolutionary terms:
1. Culture is the most “human” factor:
Every group of folks who gather around something (a figure, an object or a set of values) tend to create culture. It’s the most definitive single element that separate us from other animals. True that we are language-speaking animals, thinking mammals or tool-making apes, but all of these stem from our cultural abilities.
2. Culture evolves randomly:
Cultural equilibrium is shaped when cultural memes are transmitted long enough, among the members of a rather closed population, through social interaction and cooperation. Much of these memes are either random “mutations” at origin, or randomly fluctuate while being faultily copied by other individuals.
3. Culture is a glue:
Culture is important to us humans because it – in any of its forms – has been the glue that helped us scale up from tribes of hundreds not so long ago, to populations of up to hundreds of millions today. These present-day groups of people can be identified by races and ethnicities, religions and cults, geographies, occupation or social classes, political parties, etc. but they are actually functional clusters that can cooperate in-group while survive in their embedding ecology. All these “super-organisms” have their own type of cultural glues, codes and mechanisms that bound them together to cooperate with each other within the same system and sustain their equilibrium.
4. Culture has phase transitions:
According to history this equilibrium collapses eventually and gives rise to bigger and stronger populations, rather suddenly than slowly. There are leaps and usually they end up finding a way to include even bigger populations, than previously possible.
5. Culture is relative:
Another thing about culture is that it is relative. It’s made-up. It doesn’t matter what components have made this glue as long as it can act as a glue. And this is why culture gets old. A glue that could connect hundreds (a stone or a tree) fails to gather thousands efficiently; they need language and law. And a local set of rules can’t unite a population of a size of a country. They need technology. Our today’s religions, political divides and classes have played their important role to unite populations previously but have failed to scale-up to take us to the next level: To include us all.
6. Culture has synergy:
Every culture has emergent properties beyond the mind-set of its individuals and even beyond the original values that created it at the first place. People wrongfully assume their individual tendencies (inclusion, care, good intentions) is also acted out by them collectively. It is not correct. A group of nice and kind-hearted people can act as savages collectively. In fact that is what’s happening all across the geographical and political landscape right now .
7. Culture is greedy:
One of the emergent properties of culture is that it is greedy. Every culture seeks for dominance. It is inevitable as memes and genes – information in general – tend to copy and only those who manage to propagate and adapt best will survive.
8. We need a global culture:
To survive… Well, not necessarily a moon-size tree or a super massive stone that all ten billion in 2050 would subscribe to [just like their tribal ancestors]. But a system of global governance approved by all humans, something that can operate on our still physiologically tribal brains but can also make the next big scale-up to a planetary-level, also without blowing us up altogether. And this global culture needs to be at least minimally recognized by all humanity, and thus pragmatically needs to have empathy for all of us. It is hard but we need to admit that the current global cultures are not efficient enough for this inevitable stage. That “world new order” has got to be more efficient – and inclusive – than Abrahamic religions, our unsustainable consumerist capitalism, or that oppressive communism cult. Their incompatible perspectives have come to clash with each other and so their era has passed just like that of the stone idols, holy trees and commandments. We need to transcend them too to cooperate in a global level. We are not there yet but really, not so far from it either.
9. “Culture is not our friend”:
It’s just a glue! At the end of the day, being embedded in a tribe, country, a global monetary economy, or a trillion size AI society around a Dyson Sphere, we are individuals. We are as different as we are similar. And we have always been that way. We should be cultures of one that operates safely within a bigger, much bigger, community. How will this embedding global culture will eventually look like? Will it shape before our extinction, or will it remain an idea? Yet to be seen. We don’t know and can’t predict how things evolve beyond the parts that we currently observe. But one thing is for sure. It needs to include all humanity – pragmatically. I can’t imagine any of the underdog groups of present-day, be poor countries, minority groups, worker class, etc. would tolerate to be totally supressed, undermined in the long-run or excluded from the game. It’s just impractical because they are all powerful enough to retaliate and give a hard time to the forces that seek to dominate them. All the billions have to either be enslaved [somehow], eradicated completely, or be bought into it. We are merging in, we need to make it as least painful as possible.