natural hierarchies grow from the bottom up

An idea from Thinking in Systems that I think I'll be seeing and writing about a fair amount in the coming years. Hierarchies do occur in nature, all over the place. Hierarchical systems evolve from the bottom up. The purpose of the upper layers of the hierarchy is to serve the purposes of the lower layers.

This thought reconciles a tenant of anarchism to fight all hierarchies. The goal is not to prevent hierarchies from occurring, but to place at the heart of human understanding of hierarchies that they are meant to ease the function of less-concentrated layers, "the bottom".

Now my frustration with the point as Meadows makes in Thinking in Systems, is that natural hierarchies don't really care about the power dynamic or informational advantage that being at a key hierarchical position affords. But human will tends to highlight choke points like that in a system in glowing outlines within our minds' eye. You can't just hand-wave away the powerful pull to leverage positions of either economic, political, or even informational concentration to our advantage, even if we try not to as individuals.

Criticisms notwithstanding, I am still very intrigued by this idea. It places hierarchies in both a natural place in the world and reconciles that fact with the purpose of hierarchies in a manner that still aligns with the tenants of humanism and anarchism.

Come to think of it, there is something interesting if you think about hierarchies as abstractions as outlined in A Philosophy of Software Design. They serve to hide complexity between "lower" levels and ease interoperability between layers of a system. Maybe there's something too considering leadership roles as facilitators of abstraction, instead of positions of privilege to be guarded.

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