What the U.S. Political Crisis Illustrates

Jim Mason
Age of Awareness
Published in
5 min readSep 10, 2023

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About how human institutions and supra-organisms operate

Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The continuing crisis in the United States over the process of Presidential elections is a large-scale example of how we humans behave as a species of social animal. The crisis illustrates how collections of people (human supra-organisms), human cultural institutions, and human language operate together to constitute our collective behavior.

One part of our process of collective behavior — human cultural institutions, including but not limited to legal ones — relies on documents in written languages or memorized oral traditions to prescribe rules of individual and group behavior. Those rules can persist over periods of time that exceed individual human lifetimes. An example is provided by the United States Constitution and the many laws and other documents that prescribe how Presidents of the United States are to be elected. Established political parties are also examples of human cultural institutions with their own founding documents, by-laws, and written and oral traditions.

Another part of our process of collective behavior — human supra-organisms — consist of loosely or tightly coordinated collections of people whose individual actions each contribute in some way to the overall behavior of each supra-organism. Such supra-organisms can overlap, in that each…

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Jim Mason
Age of Awareness

I study language, cognition, and humans as social animals. You can support me by joining Medium at https://jmason37-80878.medium.com/membership