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25.1.03

David Maybury-Lewis writes that many societies organize their social thought and institutions in patterns of opposites. In Western thought the most salient of these are the contrasts between competitive individualism (gesellschaft) and communalism (gemeinschaft), between regimes of self-interest and regimes of trust. Such regimes are incommensurate. Social stability is maintained by strategies' temporal alternation: Each rhetoric has its period of ascendance in which the excesses of the opposite are corrected, as evidenced by the role of two-party systems in maintaining democracy.

- Brian J.L. Berry, "An Alternation Of Opposites?" Urban Geography 14 (1): 1-2.


I think this is a good way of looking at things, though I would suspect that there are multiple sets of opposites (some with more than two poles) that alternate with varying wavelengths (though not infinitely variable, given the constraints of human cognitive and lifespan biology which I suspect affect the timing of changes) and are not in sync with each other.

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