Quite recently, I’ve developed a system that I term “cultural silvanism”, which presents a possible version of what I call the “fractal society”. The intended purpose of cultural silvanism is to maximize cultural diversity and personal freedom, although the first has a higher priority. In this system cultures are defined by their value systems. These value systems need to be formalized to certain degree. The values and their priorities define a cultural constitution.
In this context I use the term “value” very widely. What I mean with that is any kind of preference for any kind of way that a culture could work. Let me give a few examples, so that the way this system would work becomes clearer.
- Representative democracy
- Direct democracy
Leisure activity values
- Color preferences (for clothes, cars, buildings, tools)
There are many different combinations of these values. In cultural sylanism the consitutional core is given by an n-tuple that contains the values of the culture, for example:
- (representative democracy, sports, red)
- (direct democracy, movies, blue)
- (yellow, parties)
- (games, anarchy)
- (dictatorship, green)
- (dictatorship, green, books)
- (books, green, dictatorship)
Each culture constitutes its own state. States have a precise constitution that defines how its constitutional core should be interpreted. States can be substates of superstates. Substates typically are autonomous, unless they try to violate the culture of the superstate. So, let’s go through the examples given.
(representative democracy, sports, red)
The culture (representative democracy, sports, red) would have a state in which people are governed by representative democracy, do lots of sports, and wear red or use red items (the extent of this preference for red can be defined in detail, but in any case it means at least a slight preference for red stuff). How people should behave in this culture is defined by its constitution. If you are not into sports, the culture may ban you and you would have to leave the territory of the state. If you only wear green or use blatantly non-red items, you may get banned, too. The government of the state is a representative democracy, but it can’t make laws that violate its constitution. For example, it can’t prohibit people from doing sports. The government is not allowed to change the constitutional core, but it may or may not change its constitution. How changes of the constitution work is of course defined in the constitution.
(direct democracy, movies, blue)
Then, the culture (direct democracy, movies, blue) has a direct democracy, people are supposed to watch or make movies, and wear blue. People may vote on the movies that get publicly funded by the state. They may even vote that no movies get public funding, but movies will still be a core aspect of the culture. Maybe the movies even need to contain a certain level of blue. But that would need to be specified in detail in the constitution, or via laws if the details are supposed to be open to change.
Next, the culture (yellow, parties) looks a bit weird. Its most important tenet is that things have to be yellow. And there need to be a lot of parties. How the culture is governed, is pretty much open. In practice, this means that it most likely acts as collection of subordinate cultures like (yellow, parties, direct democracy) or (yellow, parties, dictatorship), which define the way that those cultures are governed. So, there is a collection of smaller states whose individual territories together constitute the total territory of the (yellow, parties) culture.
This culture is all about games, and it is anarchist in nature. People need to follow the constitution of the culture, and play or create games. There may be a systems that allows people who reject the games culture to be kicked out, but they would leave the culture voluntarily or not even join the culture in the first place. That the culture is anarchistic means that there are no laws that prescribe how people should behave. Instead, their behavior is informed by formal or informal rules. There may be a reputation system that creates the proper incentives to stick to the rules. Alternatively there are no rules at all, besides the constitution, and people just use reputation systems to influence each other. Or there is no reputation system and people organize themselves spontaneously and accept that there are no rules outside of the constitution.
The (dicatorship, green) culture has a dictator. The process by which that dictator is selected probably needs to be defined in the constitution of the culture.
(dictatorship, green, books)
This culture is a subculture of (dicatorship, green). What sets it apart is that people are supposed to read or write books. It may have a subterritory of the territory of the (dicatorship, green) culture.
(books, green, dictatorship)
How we have a permutation of the (dictatorship, green, books) culture. Its culture should look very much the same as that of (dictatorship, green, books), but the crucial difference is that (books, green, dictatorship) is not a subculture of (dictatorship, green). It’s a subculture of (books, green) instead. Therefore, (books, green, dictatorship) is not to be found on the territory of (dictatorship, green), but of (books, green).
After these examples, it should have become clearer how this system could work. The world is partitioned into the territories of the root cultures (the cultures with 1-tuples as constitutional cores). With the examples above those would be:
- (representative democracy)
- (direct democracy)
Subcultures of these root cultures occupy subterritories. Each root culture thus gives rise to a tree of cultures that is defined by all the active cultures that share that root. In total we have a set of cultural trees, in other words a forest of cultures, hence the name cultural silvanism (silva is the latin word for forest).
The ground body of the forest
To make cultural silvanism work, there needs to be a political body that has control over the territory the root cultures live on. I call this the ground body. The ground body decides which cultures exist and what territories they occupy. It’s also responsible for governing how changes of cultures work. The ground state has overriding authority over the governments of its cultures, but it should use that authority as sparingly as necessary.
Individuals in Cultural Silvanism
Individuals are typically free to move from one culture to another. There may be exceptions to that rule that can be defined by the ground body or the constitutions of certain cultures. A culture doesn’t have to accept any immigrants. For example, it may have a certain quota of inhabitants, and before someone may move in, another person must leave first. Leaving a culture may mean that you join a superculture. Or it may mean that you enter the ground state, which is created for collecting people who leave a cultural tree entirely. The ground state may have a territory that exists apart from the territory of the root cultures. The ground state is governed by the ground body.
These ideas are quite inspired by the ideas of Amon Twyman and the Zero State community.