The “COOPERATION” Category is devoted to show that the evolution of Life on Earth has a direction. This direction is toward increasing the scale of cooperation among living processes. Also, the direction of evolution is toward increasing the adaptability of individuals and communities to better face the challenges of Life. The Butterfly-Community Open-Project is aiming to be the humanity step further in its evolution.

This article is compiled using texts from John Stewart’s book, Evolution’s Arrow

The evolution is a progression toward increasing cooperation among living processes. The argument in favor of this position is not controversial: it is beyond doubt that cooperation can be effective in evolutionary terms. Whatever challenges organisms face during their evolution, the challenges can be met more effectively through cooperation.

But how can evolution progress by exploiting these benefits of cooperation when, as Richard Dawkins has shown, the evolution apparently favors organisms that put their own selfish interests above all else? Actually selfish or non-cooperative living beings never survive, let alone thrive – because life is always a Circle of Cooperation and not a battleground. Cooperation always brings forth advantages.

Cooperative organisms organize themselves in ways that their cooperation is mutually-consistent. When organisms are organized in this specific way, it is in their interests to be cooperative. Within such an organization, individuals will benefit when they cooperate. In a group organized in this way, individuals who follow their own interests will also generally serve the interests of the group. Wherever cooperation pays off for the group, cooperation will also be in the interests of its members.

Evolution progresses towards greater cooperation by discovering ways to build cooperative organizations out of components that are self-interested. It has been done repeatedly throughout the history of life on Earth: Cooperative groups of self-replicating molecular processes formed the first simple prokaryotic cells. Groups of prokaryotic cells formed larger and more complex eukaryotic cells. These eukaryotic cells formed cooperative groups of cells that became multicellular organisms. Different multicellular organisms formed symbiotic ecosystems and cooperative societies.

The human society that behaves like an organism (mutul-consistency between its members) is the tribe, the human-scale community. At this scale, its members choose to behave fair and collaborative simply because the cooperation is such that the interests of the members are aligned with the interests of the community as a whole.

One thing that is striking about evolution is that it builds up a holarchic architecture: the cooperative groups that arose at each step in the sequence became the organisms (the individuals) that then teamed up to form, at a higher level of integration, the next cooperative groups. The result has been that all larger-scale living systems are made up of smaller-scale living organisms that are in turn made up of still smaller-scale processes and so on. And for the organism to operate effectively, all these layers of living processes must cooperate in the interests of the organism. A tribe is a kind of organism made by humans. A human, in its turn, is a cooperative organization of cells and organs. It is obvious that this sequence has direction.

These increases in the scale of cooperation are unlikely to end here and now. The same evolutionary forces that drove the expansion of the cooperative organizations in the past can be expected to continue to do so. The evolution progresses towards increasing cooperation whatever the mechanism that produces evolutionary changes in organisms. As long as the mechanism is good enough at finding better adaptation, it will discover and exploit the benefits of cooperation. Both natural selection and cultural evolution produce progressive evolution.

The advantages of cooperation can be expected to drive progressive evolution wherever Life emerges. On any planet where Life evolves, evolution can be expected to produce cooperation over wider and wider scales, as it has on Earth. To exploit the benefits of cooperation effectively, groups of organisms must evolve an ability to discover the most useful forms of cooperation and to modify them as conditions change. They must be able to evolve and adapt their cooperation. The better and quicker they are at discovering effective cooperation, the better they will do in evolutionary terms. The advantages of being better at adapting have driven progressive improvements in the adaptability of cooperative groups. The processes that adapt and evolve organisms have got progressively better at discovering the most effective forms of cooperation among the living processes that make up the organisms. Evolution itself evolves, and living processes get smarter at evolving.

Butterfly Communities Open-Project resumes the path of this evolutionary sequence: The evolution of (true) collaboration on this Planet is still trying to find a better mechanism to organize collaboratively the human-scale communities in a holarchic global architecture. This is what Butterfly Communities Open-Project is about.

At this human-scale level, the human community shared a common purpose: There are no divergent interests of class, caste or group. At the human-scale level, people choose collaborative and fair living strategies because they prove to be advantageous in the long, medium and short term. This is so simply because a human-scale community is not torn by divergent interests: the whole community shares the same worldview and the same purpose. It is easy then for individuals to find a common logic and an equitable way of organization because the interests of all are aligned with the interests of the community as a whole.

Until now, when human societies exceeded this limit, (becoming super-human-scale), we never managed to find a functional mechanism to maintain the mutual-consistency between us. We have managed to extend human societies to the level of kingdoms and empires, but to the detriment of real collaboration, fair, mutually-consistent. Human society was no longer based on a collaborative structure, but rather on an exploitative one. All the revolts and injustices of the societies of the Antiquity (Red), Medieval (Blue), Modern (Orange) and Post-modern (Green) eras (see Spiral Dynamic) testify that human society was not truly collaborative, but exploitative, based on inequity of social classes.

In accordance with the level of consciousness that humans have managed to develop throughout their history, we have found various “external managers” (we will see later what this is about) who have partially succeeded to assure the superficial cohesion of human societies. In the war-like epochs that followed the fall of the Neolithic Civilization (Magenta, the one that evolved the tribe, the collaboration at the level of human-scale communities), our societies have had as “external managers” tyrannical chieftains, kings and emperors. In the medieval era, we have had the same, with a lower degree of tyranny and a greater degree of social cohesion. The modern age has marked the evolution of an external management more capable of advancing the collaboration of human society. Still, even in modern and post-modern times, human society remains extremely unfair and torn apart by countless group interests.

As long as human society is divided into castes and groups with different interests, there can be no government that is fair to all, and there is no possibility of aligning the interests of all community members with the interests of the community, simply because community members, depending on their caste or group, have different interests…

Butterfly Communities Open-Project aims to use the understanding we have at hand: that the first step we can (and should) take is to organize ourselves collaboratively at the human-scale level. Butterfly communities will thus become – for their members – a place where everyone can consciously evolve towards higher collaboration skills and, especially, a social space in whose creation we can participate, in which we can express ourselves authentically, in which we can help each other, thus increasing everyone’s chances of well-being and survival.