Tag Archives: a hierarchy

A Cooperative Hierarchy?

A hierarchy

a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.

A cooperative

an  association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations


Recently I was introduced to the question of how a society is formed. Mostly it is done through a ‘Hierarchy Model’: A boss and a trickle down line of subordinates. Is this the best model for a society? The opposite of such a model is a ‘Co-operative Structure’: everyone works together for the common good. There is no leader and no command structure. Sounds idyllic!

Is one better than other? Yes and no. I do love a little controversy!

We are born into a hierarchical construct. We are naked and hungry. Everyone has a job to do to ensure our well-being. There are many scenarios of this: one mom, one dad, one mom and dad, two moms, two dads or those who fulfill the needs of a parent. We must be taught not jump off a cliff, how to comport ourselves in society and how to appreciate authority. As an adult we can then choose our way of life.

It is similar in the animal world. The young need to be educated in order to survive. What is safe to eat and what will eat you. There is also a very ridged chain of authority: Alpha, Beta, etc.

Other animals are born into a community when everyone helps to raise the young but there still is an Alpha, one leader and don’t you forget it!

Still others are left alone to survive on instinct. There are usually hundreds if not thousand born as the mortality rate is quite high.

So we have a dilemma. Is the rigidity of the Hierarchy best for society or does the fluidity of the Co-operative make more sense? The short answer is yes.

If I am a passenger in a plane 45 thousand feet in the air I want to believe that the people that made the plane, maintain it and are flying it, believe in a Hierarchy. I do not want a trained mechanic taking his turn at flying!

On the other hand I am fine with everyone on a farm pitching in where ever it is needed. Co-operation is welcome.

Sometimes a ridged structure needs to bend a little or it will break in a high wind. And sometimes that loose co-operative needs a little direction to keep it viable. Circumstances change and a vital society will adapt and grow. Just like people.