Who Is In Control
.
The three-level living system architecture involves three levels of governance control. Between the levels, there is a contractual relationship that involves mutual support. The lower-level living system works to help carry out the higher-level living system's life functions; the higher-level living system provides nourishment and protection. For biomolecules within cells and cells within organisms, this control/support structure is genetically hard-wired. For organisms within a superorganism there is also significant learning, which allows freedom of choice for organisms, and natural selection of structure within their superorganism.


Multiple Levels of Control
.
In the three-level living system hierarchy, governance control flows downward, from superorganism to organism to cell, and finally to biomolecule. At each level, the higher-level living system controls its lower-level living system components through their respective organizations, organs, and organelles.
.
The existence of a higher-level living system emerges when lower-level living systems join together for mutual benefit. As the lower-level living systems solidify their relationships and specialize their behavior, they become more and more interdependent. What was initially a "voluntary" sharing of responsibilities and benefits evolves into an obligation that becomes enforced (i.e., governed) by the emerging higher-level living system.
.
 Inter-Level Control is Based on a Contractual Relationship. 
.
Control between two levels of living system can be thought of as a contractual relationship, which may be unconscious, implicit, or deliberate. At the lower levels of living system the contractual constraints are usually hard-wired and changeable only through evolution and natural selection across generations. At higher levels, the contract may be more deliberate.
.
In such a contractual relationship, lower level components enter into an agreement to behave in specified, constrained ways that produce the work necessary to collectively perform the life functions of the higher-level living system. In return, the higher-level living system agrees to provide protection from the raw environment and nourishment to meet the needs of its components. If the higher-level living system fails to meet the life function needs of its components, all may perish or the components may dis-aggregate and go their own ways. Governance is often viewed as an all-powerful top-down constraining force, but it's capabilities are limited by the health, capabilities, and sometimes willingness, of the living system components.
.
In the case of nation-states and their citizens, the contractual relationship is somewhat voluntary. Most citizens must have a job in order to live, working for money to buy the things they need to survive. If they fail to uphold their end of the contract or to resort to criminal activity, they will be disciplined or incarcerated. Correspondingly, for a nation's government to survive, it must meet the overall life function needs of its citizens.
.
Self-Control
.
As humans, we see ourselves as having the freedom to determine much of what we do and how we do it. We train our children in "self-control" and teach them to make choices and decisions for themselves. We consciously agree to follow established laws and rules by which our government exercises control over much of own behavior. How can such self-initiated, deliberate control be reconciled with the "blind" forces of nature? The forces that exercise control over our individual behaviors are complex:
.
 Genes Provide Capabilities for Organism Behavior;
.
 Memes Place Constraints on that Behavior.
.
The structure of our cells, and the genes they contain, exercise great control over our innate physiology, our capabilities, needs and limitations. These include not only the hard-wired structures of our organs, but also the mental propensities within our brains that allow learning and which unconsciously bias us toward certain behaviors.
.
As adults, our brains might be viewed as complex structures of scenarios that enable us to interact with our environments to satisfy our needs. Some of these scenarios are hard-wired by our genes, as in our autonomic nervous systems. Other scenarios are learned through our senses and trial-and-error actions, first in childhood, later in school, and finally in the world of work. Learned scenarios that define and constrain our behaviors can be equated to memes that have been internalized within our own individual governance mechanisms. These concepts are examined in greater detail later, in Genes and Memes.
.
Freedom and Indirect Governance
.
Controlling interactions between a nation-state superorganism and its citizen components are based on their contractual relationship. As long as everything is working normally, according to established rules of behavior, no direct control is needed. Direct government control of individual citizen actions occurs when fast corrections are needed, such as when there is a violation of the rules of law or a national emergency.

Under normal circumstances most governance control is indirect, through intermediate market structures. Here, the term "market" is used in the broadest sense that encompasses most organization and citizen transactions that involve free choice. Such free market transactions may involve finance, goods, services, jobs, information, etc. The superorganism-organism contractual relationship still applies, but is less visible and is enforced indirectly.
.
In a free market, business organizations are free to choose what product or service they will deliver. Citizens and organizations are free to decide what product to buy at what price. This freedom of choice provides for fast and precise distribution of the nation-state superorganism's goods, services, energy, and work throughout its component citizen population.
.
All free market transactions relate to the capabilities of living systems to carry out the actions required to maintain homeostasis across their life functions. From the component citizens' view, market transactions relate to acquiring jobs and an ability to obtain the things needed for their own wellbeing. From the superorganism nation-state's view, they relate to a collective performance of the work necessary to carry out its own life functions.

The high level of free choice provided by the loose coupling of markets produces an ongoing trial-and-error process that is acted upon by natural selection. The result is an adaptive evolution of many parts of the nation-state superorganism's internal structure within its own life-span.
.
World Governance
.
Throughout human evolutionary history, there has been a trend toward growth in the scope of human-based superorganisms into ever larger and more encompassing geographical control structures. This growth involved a progression from family to band, to tribe, to chiefdom, to nation-state, and soon into a single world-wide superorganism entity. The transition from tribe to nation-state is nearly complete, but the transition to a single world-wide entity is still in its early stages.
.
Major efforts are currently underway to achieve further consolidation from independent nations toward world governance. These include the European Union, Free Trade Agreements, NATO, and the United Nations. The trade operations of international multi-nation corporations add world-wide constraints that push nations toward international cooperation. Sporadic upheaval and painful adjustment can be expected as nations adjust to cooperative interaction, but the overall movement toward eventual world governance is clear. Although world governance looms on the horizon, this living system modeling effort will focus mainly on relatively autonomous individual nation-states such as the United States.


Control Structure Shows how the multiple sources of influence and control of living system behavior fit together into a comprehensive model.


©1995-2012 Ackley Associates   Last revised: 7/20/11
.