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Humans are social animals, the kind that live in communities as large as possible for mutual benefit. We have a nature of empathy and cooperation, and are able to achieve more together than we possibly could as individuals. Of course this cooperative nature can be tested under conditions of limited resources but, for hundreds of thousands of years we lived in small egalitarian communities, hunting and foraging to eke out a living where natural habitats allowed us to thrive.
Humans differ from other social animals though, in our ability to tell stories, sharing future possibilities and complex ideas with each other. As a result, we are able to organize ourselves in many different ways. That’s politics. At least 10,000 years ago, some humans discovered the possibilities of agriculture, allowing them to be more productive with a previously unimaginable abundance of food. That surplus led to population growth as well as to social divisions. The concept of private property was born giving control of that wealth to a small minority.
Since then, nearly every human culture and language has developed with the idea of property ownership being foundational. Owning food, land, tools, animals and even people have seemed ‘normal’ to those who grow up in such a culture, yet there have been (and may still be some) cultures in which the idea of ‘ownership’ is not even understood, let alone accepted as truth.
As a species, we are now divided in so many ways; by gender, skin colour, sexual identity or orientation, ability, culture, religion, nation, age and more. These divisions are not natural, but are ideas created by some humans and they only serve the ruling class to divide and conquer the majority. Women were treated as property so that men of property could control their bloodline for inheritance. Racism as a concept was first thought of and shared as a story used to justify the African slave trade and European imperialism’s theft of land around the world. The ideas that divide us are like viruses that infect humanity and disable our collective immune system which is cooperation. They prevent us from organizing as a majority in order to share the wealth and decision making of the world more fairly. Growing up, we all learn who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’ in society, yet no human child was ever born holding these ideas. The fundamental division which began this process though, was class: whether or not we own property. And property is power. Private property with its deep-rooted social and power structures is the true obstacle to our solving any problems on a global scale, whether it’s systemic oppression, pandemics, climate change, nuclear disaster or even the as yet unknown consequences of our growing dependance on artificial intelligence.
A cooperative world can only be built by people who trust each other. We can't possibly know and trust 8 billion people so, our only hope for global cooperation is to create a new political/economic system based on community. A global community of communities: Democracy From Below