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Why Societies Develop Like Embryos

Just as Driesch could break off a branch of a sea squirt and see it become an entire, independent sea squirt, Spencer says that you can divide a primitive tribe, an indigenous tribe, and both halves will become complete tribes able to operate on their own. Why? Because

each of these contains every element which the whole did—is just as self- sufficing, and quickly assumes the simple organization constituting an independent tribe.

But you can’t just arbitrarily cut in two a modern society like the one Spencer lives in, a society with cities that depend on steamships, railroads, and telegraphs that tie together global meshes of trade.

Hence, on the contrary, it happens, that in a community like our own, no part can be cut off or injured without all parts suffering.

Just as Driesch will not be able to cut the heart out of a rabbit and see that heart become a complete bunny hopping with glee, and just as the poor rabbit will not be able regrow her missing heart, a complex society cannot simply regrow its equivalent of a blood pump. Says Spencer,

Annihilate the agency employed in distributing commodities, and much of the rest would die before another distributing agency could be developed.

Cut out the supply chain of meat and vegetables to Swindon and you starve the screw maker and his family. As Spencer puts it,

Suddenly sever the manufacturing portion from the agricultural portion, and the one would expire outright, while the other would long linger in grievous distress.