We need to overcome the conventional view of social life. Up to now, we think that the only means to reach prosociality (communitarian life without aggresion, selfishness, irrationality) are economic change (technology), education, political reform. That can help, but the real prime mover of the social change is moral evolution.
Moral evolution is the result of long, conflicting and winding changes in human vision of community -wisdom, Zeitgeist...- getting internalized in human behaviour. Most creations of moral evolution passed through religions in the past -"Axial Age", for instance. The goal of moral evolution is reaching the perfect prosociality, creating a culture of non violence, rationality and extreme cooperation after extreme mutual trust. That is not impossible to reach, but the fastest way to get it is by promoting moral evolution.
2500 years ago, the first pacifist religion -buddhism- realised that the ethical goals they looked for was unattainable inside the mainstream society. They invented then monasticism, which works like a "human behavior greenhouse": selected individuals, highly motivated, psychologically helped by doctrine and other tricks -rituals, isolation, arts...- they could reached inside that particular small society some moral advances. As a consequence, some traits of the new prosocial behavior can get outside, in the mainstream society, helping to change minds. The same system was used by christianity afterwards, even more succesfully: "Process of civilization" was in some way a consequence of the monasticism of the Middle Age, encouraging and inspiring the control of aggresion in the high social classes. No Humanism, Christian Reform or Enlightenment would have been possible without that previous psychological -moral- change.
Something similar could be done today. We have today the means of psychology, the experience of the past, the richness of a worldwide culture and a higher tolerance than before. Creating "communities for the improvement of behavior" based on a rational view of human prosociality, developing methods of self-control on a trial and error basis and totally apart from conventional social prejudices could be a very valuable help to moral evolution, influencing the mainstream society on a prosocial sense. Motivated individuals should be, obviously, pacifist, benevolent, rational -atheist, apolitical- and conscious of having to cope outer resistance. But maybe they could also enjoy some particular advantages from it.
Published on 14 June 2021