The basic equation was laid out in an episode of Nature on PBS. The domestication of the dog entailed (among other things) genetically selecting out one or more of the abilities in the sequence of actions comprising successful predation in the wild. An article from the Discovery News website informs us that domestication has been a dumbing-down process for dogs, who are thoroughly pwned by their wild cousins the dingoes and wolves in a food-finding exercise called the “detour test.” This leads one to wonder whether civilized humans, like domesticated dogs, are playing with less than a full deck, which is to say, a skill set less than adequate to the challenge of independent survival.
Skill subtraction is often attributable to non-genetic factors, such as de-skilling in the workplace. One consequence of a partial skill set is interdependence, which is one thing, but what if some people are more dependent than others? How would we go about determining whether this is the case, and which intrinsic abilities are most likely to be found in the dominant classes in human society? Surely there are gains from trade to be realized when people interact with those with complementary skill portfolios. According to theory, even someone whose skills are inferior across the board stands to gain from trade. Perhaps some comfort can be taken in the fact that the related theory of comparative advantage rests on a boatload of assumptions, including full employment. Perhaps the Iron Laws of Economics don’t always have the final say.
One countermeasure against the prevalence of highly incomplete skill sets could be a sort of cross-training program. One would expect an agorist or mutualist community to transform apprenticeship from an entry barrier into an open, inclusive learning opportunity, perhaps following the template in the fifth paragraph of Suggestions for modeling non-monetary coordination in the Angel Economy. The opportunity to be apprenticed in perhaps dozens of trades in the course of a lifetime may help make one less intimidated by the necessity of truck and barter, and maybe just maybe might play a role in the obsolescence of truck and barter.
The challenge is avoiding hierarchies of the ‘you need me more than I need you’ type. Mutualism seeks to cultivate a type of symbiotic relationship that is distinct from parasitism and commensalism. Perhaps commensalism can be seen as the social analog of lifestyle anarchism.
Can domestication and civilization be unbundled? And what of re-imprinting?