THE THEORY OF ASSOCIATION
study of animal life reveals one essential factor common to all - that they associate
with their fellows in the pursuit of the means of life. Man is in no way different
in this respect - he is a social being.
It may seem a truism to say this,
except for the fact that the observation commonly misses something of the utmost
importance. Among animals social life is generally confined to the family group,
hunting, grazing, sleeping together for safety.
Man, being intelligent, has
enlarged this simple method of association; not only do human beings live together
in family groups, but families are grouped together in larger associations, townships
- or clans in pastoral cultures - and these in turn in even larger groups, called
Society, or the "Association of Humans," is then, in its natural
development, not a single herd of individuals, but a "Society of societies." Or
to put it another way: "A society is a complex association of associations."
factors of culture (the tradition of knowledge, mores, customs, even techniques
of work and production) and language obviously determine the greatest size of
a nation, and the factors of homeland and economy determine the smallest size.
These four factors define the limits beyond which association is not only undesirable,
but probably impossible.
Such ideas as "World Government" etc., are abstractions,
having no existence in reality. The greater the size of the society the more likely
it is to break up - the more unwieldy are the factors of its association.
with its corollary a World State is one end of the scale and self-determination
of the individual is the other
.. the smaller the genuine political unit, the
nearer you are getting to self-determination of the individual.
Increment of Association
A study of the animal kingdom reveals that not
only do animals live in association, but that they benefit from their association.
The benefits range from the greater ease with which food may be caught, or grazing
lands found, by animals in packs or herds, to the greater protection from attack
which being together gives. This benefit is the increment of association. At this
point we may observe, especially, that being a member of a pack affords the individual
animal more protection, and more ease in obtaining food, than its efforts would
procure if it hunted alone. But the individual animal does not enjoy this greater
protection or greater comfort at the expense of other members of the pack.
Associating in Production
We must now consider in general terms the factors
involved in the production of wealth and the best way to do this is to be clear
about what terms mean. What is termed civilisation was unknown at one time in
human history. Mankind, at one period lived the life of wanderers. The only unit
was the family, or possibly the tribe.
Civilisation resulted from the
nomadic life being exchanged for the settled, permanent community life. Various
historians have given slightly different versions of the ways Civilisation began,
but they are all agreed that it was from the result of individuals discovering
that by living in permanent communities, they could obtain results which were
otherwise impossible of attainment.
As the historian Elliot Smith has put
it: "True civilisation began when man adopted a settled mode of life based upon
the practice of agriculture. The realisation of the possibility of obtaining a
secure means of sustenance without giving up his whole time to the daily search
for food, induced man to settle in a definite place, which he made his home. It
also provided him with the leisure and the inducement to devise arts and crafts
and a social organisation, the need for which was now felt by simple nomads".
Although obscured by the complexities
of modern civilisation, the primary objective of social life remains what it was
to obtain greater security and
freedom for the individual. It is of fundamental importance that we realise clearly
that society is a device which exists for the benefit of individuals; that
society is built up from the individual, and that all organisations which have
been evolved through social life are for the purpose of' serving the requirements
Matter which has been consciously transformed
by the application of energy from a condition in which it is less serviceable
to human need, into a condition in which it is more serviceable to human need.
Without wealth man cannot live. Man must produce a certain kind and a certain
amount of wealth, depending upon his degree of civilization.
The transformation of one thing into another by the application of energy.
The basic source of energy is human labour, to which has been added animal labour
and primary energy, first employed two-thousand plus years ago by means of the
The human energy applied to the material
forces about us. Human energy is increasingly displaced by solar, fossil and atomic
The general term applied to all the materials
and forces to which we may apply energy, and which we need to transform in order
to live. Land is the source through the green plants, of all human and chemical
energy. It also plays a considerable part, again through the green plants, in
the movement of wind and water. Energy is therefore used in a cyclical manner
- the "Law of the conservation of energy."
All production takes time. During
that time the producer must be fed, that is energy must be supplied in the form
of food, to be transformed into labour. There must be an accumulation of wealth
created in the past, and reserved to maintain labour during its next production
cycle. The accumulation represents the increment of association.
The store set aside to support future production. It may take the form
of stores of food or supplies or tools. In a more sophisticated form it will take
the form of money or credit, invested for the purpose of supporting labour while
Things of a mechanical nature devised
to assist man in the production of wealth. They are used to employ human energy
more efficiently, to utilize natural and chemical energy, and to displace human
limbs and fingers. They are all based on an understanding of the increment obtained
by such simple modes of mechanical association as the lever and the wheel, which
yield the mechanical advantage.
The implements range in complexity from the
hammer to the atomic power station. With the development of the industrial arts
Man becomes increasingly dependent upon implements for his production of wealth.
There are a certain kind and number of implements without which he cannot produce.
For example a man of the Late Stone Age would be helpless without his stone tools.
We of the Late Iron Age would be reduced to starvation if we awoke one morning
to find we had nothing but stone tools.
is of no practical significance to an organism which spends its entire waking
life in the search for and consumption of food, to give it sufficient energy to
search for and consume food. Where a condition of life approximating to this is
found among men there can be no progress.
In the modern state power over men,
by making livelihood dependent upon a specified way of applying labour, can be
retained by a caucus. By controlling the time spent in labour you also control
Labour, Land, Capital, Implements, the "means of production,"
are the factors which must be brought together in association to produce the Wealth
without which man cannot live.
Economics," by Anthony Cooney (to be republished early 2006).
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