Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft

Alwyn Jones, making a Gaian critique of industrialism in The Ecologist, uses the concepts of Ferdinand Tonnies. The distinction made by the nineteenth century German sociologist between Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (association) is also useful in drawing distinctions between Terrian and human society, especially that represented by the Council.
People interact together on the basis of reciprocal and `whole person' relationships which are to their mutual advantage. ... Members of Gemeinschaft bodies follow collective sentiment.... But with the onset of industrialism, the mutualism to be found in Gemeinschaft gives way to the competitiveness of Gesellschaft society in which relationships are fragmented, self-motivated and egocentric. ... If a future society based on the Gaian principles of interdependence, mutuality and interrelatedness is to be achieved, a reemergence of some form of Gemeinschaft is essential[1]

The indicators of the Gemeinschaft nature of the Terrians include their telepathic consensus decision making and the fact that they cannot harm another Terrian regardless of the circumstances. In fact, their one recourse to punishment is ostracism. During the geo-lock crisis Alonzo speaks their distrust of humans because they think with one mind while the humans think with many. The point is restated when we learn that the 300,000 Terrian is what remains of their form when they were more individuated than now.

Since the nineteenth century social theorists have been suggesting that the historical progression is from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft, which is the result and condition of modernity.[2] But on Earth2 the process proceeds in the opposite direction, perhaps coming round full circle. Within the colonist community it is an ongoing struggle. The Council, with its cold calculation and ruthless plan for exploitation of G889 is the epitomy of industrial spirit of Gesellschaft.

Earth 2: A Gaian Hypothesis homepage