November 15, 2005

He understood one rule, that waste was death; that what one gave the desert it never gave back, to world's end.

He did what he knew to do, which was to yield nothing.

- C.J.Cherryh, The Faded Sun: Kutath

Communities at the edge of subsistence have communal identity: each person growing up within a structure of understanding from their earliest sense of self-awareness equally an understanding of self-as-group, knowing what is needed and where one fits in; as it was, is, and so shall be. Such a group identity can cede no flexibility, for to experiment is to risk extinction against a pitiless nature; yet similarly such a group identity has no flexibility to adjust to changing external circumstance.

It requires cities to develop individualism, through specialisation and consequent coordinating centralisation: but also individualism to adapt to a changing environment, to adjust for better or for worse ... and, sometimes, to evolve.

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