Evolving Governance Across a Stressed Planet
In this chapter we seek to apply the concepts and insights derived from our discussion of evolutionary theory to an examination of the evolution of governance. This is not an entirely novel undertaking. Although not always explicitly articulated, notions of social and political organisation have been an important element in evolutionary interpretations of history.1 The last twenty or more years have seen a proliferation of writings purporting to apply evolutionary concepts to the social sciences generally and to political phenomena in particular.2 Useful as these attempts may have been in suggesting possible lines of analogical inquiry, this study takes a somewhat different approach, based on three closely interconnected propositions. First, the phenomenon whose trajectory is to be described and explained is the evolution of human governance in its totality. While recognising the significant evolutionary role of individuals and groups (including communities, large and small), this study argues that these must be placed within a larger frame of reference. We are, in other words, concerned with governance as it relates to the evolution of the species as a whole. Secondly, while our focus is very much on developments over the last hundred or so years, the analytical point of departure is the relationship between this most recent period and earlier periods of human history. Thirdly, and most importantly, the aim, in line with the analysis elaborated in the previous chapter, is to place the evolution of governance within a co-evolutionary theoretical framework. CONCEPTUAL SIGNPOSTS As already noted, the evolution of governance...
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