disinfo | One of the quirks of evolution is that not every member of any particular species has to evolve in the same way. Or at all. Because of this, we can look through the flotilla of species that still exist and see examples of aggregation at all stages that weren’t so unstable as to be weeded out. We still have single-celled creatures with no concern or moderation with respect to others of their kind or their environment, many of which we classify as diseases. We have single-celled creatures that communicate chemically and cooperate toward common goals, like the microbes in our intestines that we count on for proper digestion. We have colonial organisms, like salps and corals and sponges, where every piece of the organism is basically identical. And then we have a couple of lovely slime molds. (See the transcript of Paco Nathan’s talk at the Parallax View conference in Austin, TX, Oct 22, 2000.) These deserve special mention because they’re basically free-swimming amoebas when the water is high and food is plentiful — but when resources get low, they Voltron themselves into a slug (grex is an awesome word — look it up) with differentiated tissues. With a reproductive system. With fruiting bodies. And spores. And when resources become plentiful again, all the little amoebas dissolve away from one another, shake pseudopods, and go their separate ways.
You see that in humans, too. Wealthy and comfortable people treasure their independence. The oppressed and fearful and poor band together to support one another, pool resources, and defend the territory. Check the membership demographics for the popular politic parties. Conduct an analysis of variance on functional levels of human and civil rights and economic status with respect to platform planks regarding lower taxes and individual property rights versus higher taxes and pooled-resource programs and I’m pretty sure you’ll see the math support what I’m saying. In just about any species, ecological factors like reduced food and water and the perception of external threats can increase social behavior tremendously. Why else would apex predators — animals whose only competitors are one another — band together at all?