5.10 Social Order

Social order is the traditional way to create synergy. By Rule 2, social dilemmas are solved when people form a higher social unit. Only when tragedy of the commons farmers form a village can they institute a grazing roster to preserve the commons. Game theory arbitrarily excludes the social agreements critical to solving social dilemmas (Aumann, 1998).

A society’s social order is the degree to which its members agree to follow common rules. In perfect social order everyone is of “one mind”, like an ordered crystal whose constituent atoms all move as one. Social anarchy in contrast is like a gas, whose atoms all move randomly according to individual exigencies. Freedom lets members of a society choose whether to act as one or in opposition, which allows creative acts against the norm. Enforcing order avoids anarchy, but also reduces freedom and creativity.

If a community acts as one (social order), whether by religion, culture, law or coercion, social dilemmas give way to synergy; e.g. if a village sets up a game reserve to stop poaching, it conserves its wild life not only for itself but to also create, for example, a tourist income. It can do this by physical barriers like fences, punishments or by declaring the land sacred, so those who defy the gods are banished.

Yet enforcing order, even psychologically, is a blunt instrument. It makes members effectively ants, i.e. denies freedom. Socializing citizens to follow Rule 2 engages social evolution to synergy but disengages the individual evolution of competence and creativity. The struggle between social and individual evolution is reflected in the historical swings between the rise of civilizations and their fall at the hands of more competent barbarians. Hence social performance requires both competition to increase competence and order to increase synergy.