An essential implication is that if one destroys the specific environment to which a system is an adaption, i.e. if we deprive it of its niche, then It must die. To begin with, it will probably simply manifest various signs of maladjustment causing, to begin with, what can subjectively be referred to as unhappiness.
It is a feature of all natural systems, including social ones, that they develop by differentiation (see 45. The Differentiation Principle), which means that at each stage the functions previously fulfilled in a general way become fulfilled in a more differentiated one. The new parts that ensure this extra differentiation have thus come into being for a specific purpose for which, in the case of social systems, they have been designed genetically and culturally.
Differentiation occurs because environmental challenges require it, or, more precisely, because a system must become more differentiated if it is to remain stable in the face of new environmental challenges.
On the other hand, once these challenges have disappeared, the extra differentiation is no longer necessary and the parts developed to ensure it, become redundant. I shall equate ‘happiness’ with adaptability, and ‘unhappiness’ with redundancy. In fact, I believe that no other interpretation is reconcilable with a systemic approach to the study of sociology.
This simply means that a man is happy in the fulfilment of his natural functions and unhappy when his social and physical environment renders their fulfilment impossible, i.e. when he has become redundant. Thus a man needs to drink, eat, walk, work and struggle, and the last of these activities is by no means the least important. (see 35. The Hierarchy of Needs Principle). 
He needs to court his mate, marry her, love her, protect her and provide for her. She in turn needs to be married, loved, protected and provided for. She also needs to work so as to provide a warm and aesthetically pleasing home. Both of them need children and the children in turn require all these things which, in a stable society, their parents obtain maximum satisfaction in providing. If their needs are not satisfied – if a man is deprived of his social needs, if, in fact, he is socially redundant – then he is likely to be unhappy and to display all the symptoms of social deprivation.Back to top
The converse of this principle is that if a niche is available a system will evolve to fill it. The ultimate limit to the size of an animal population is the size of the niche available to it. Our sprawling urban areas and huge stretches of monoculture must give rise to large populations of micro-organisms and insects adapted to them and in terms of which epidemic diseases are alone explicable.
While man lived a nomadic existence in small groups of 20-50 people, no such niche existed. Once the niche is there, technological controls are almost invariably incapable of preventing the filling of this niche by the appropriate populations. At the moment, massive irrigation systems throughout the world are creating a permanent habitat for the snail that is the vector of schistomosiasis. As a result, in spite of all the measures taken at a national and international level, this disease is spreading. Back to top
It can be shown that any principles that appear to apply in the initial and more general stages of development must also apply at the later, and more particular, ones. The best illustration of this is the applicability of the laws of physics not only to inanimate objects, but also to the most sophisticated organisms, such as a human being and the societies they are organised into.
Thus, if you drop a rock and a university professor from the top of a tower, in both cases the way they fall will be predictable in terms of the same physical laws. They will both obey the law of gravity, for instance. This essential principle I refer to as the Accumulation Principle.
This principle is apparent from the following consideration. In its development from the simple to the complex, matter passes through certain critical stages, where the possibilities of a particular type or organisation are exhausted and further advance can only be achieved by the development of a new type.
Thus, an atom can be developed only up to a certain point. This point will vary with different types of atoms, some of which, such as the tungsten atom, are relatively large.
Beyond this critical point, however, development can only occur by associating several atoms together to form a molecule. As soon as the latter stage is reached, the constituent atoms undergo a considerable change in that a radical division of labour occurs in accordance with the law of economy.
To explain their behaviour now requires the introduction of new principles. These, however, do not replace those required to explain the behaviour of the atoms before their association, rather they complement them. An accumulation has occurred.
The same thing happens when we pass to the next level of complexity, the cell, which is made up of associated and differentiated molecules, and so on. In each case, as we proceed to a higher level of complexity, there must be an increase in the number of disciplines required to explain behaviour. The sociologist who deals with behaviour at the highest level should thus understand behaviour at all the preceding ones – for a society is made up of men, made up of organs and tissues, in turn made up of cells, in turn made up of molecules, atomic particles, etc.
The Accumulation Principle is also apparent from yet another consideration. The genetic instructions transmitted from one generation to the next are not determined by the experience of the generation immediately previous. On the contrary, that part of the instructions that can be ascribed to the experience of the preceding generation is but a minute fraction of the total instructions contained in the genetic material.
The total instructions, in fact, will reflect the experience of the unit of phylogeny taken as a whole, i.e. of the species to which the system belongs, taken four-dimensionally. From that it must follow that if we are to understand the process of phylogeny, it is the latter that must be taken as behaving, and not one of its differentiated parts.
The same principle is infinitely easier to understand in the case of ontogenetic development. Each step in the embryological process is not regarded as separate. The embryo as a whole is taken as the unit of behaviour.
The Accumulation Principle makes it clear that to understand a process one must not only take into account the unit of behaviour that appears to be directly involved, but the vast four-dimensional system of which it is an integral part, from which it derives its general instructions, and of which it constitutes but a differentiated part.
For this reason, sociologists who attempt to explain behaviour without reference to the preceding stages of development are like neurophysiologists who seek to understand the development of the cerebral cortex in a child without reference to the mid-brain, the brain-stem, and other parts of the nervous system. The study of processes which are but part of much larger processes in an artificial vacuum can give rise only to the most superficial understanding.Back to top
Another principle of development that emerges from such an approach can be referred to as the Sequential Principle, or the principle of succession as it is known in ecology. All behaviour is made up of a sequence of steps. These steps must occur in the right order. If one step in the sequence does not occur, the sequence can proceed no further. In addition, the environmental situation to which they constitute adaptive reactions, and to which each one is therefore linked, must also occur in exactly the right order.
Thus, if a given step does not occur at the ‘right time’, it will not occur at all, or at best but imperfectly. Once more, embryology furnishes us with a very clear illustration of this principle.
Behavioural reactions are ‘triggered off’ by a corresponding environmental stimuli, real or imaginary. The less discriminating the system concerned, the more specific will be the stimulus required to determine a given reaction.
Discriminatory ability is low in an embryological system, where the cytoplasm constitutes a very highly ordered environment. In such a situation, environmental situation ‘A’ triggers off reaction ‘a’, which in turn gives rise to a modified environment ‘B’, which in turn triggers off specific reaction ‘b’, etc. It is evident that in these conditions any departure from the correct sequence of environmental situations and of behavioural reactions will prevent the total process from occurring.
This Sequential Principle is also apparent in every day behaviour. If a man is hungry, he goes to the kitchen to make a sandwich. He cannot possibly perform the steps in reverse, i.e. eat the sandwich before he has made it and before he has gone to the kitchen to collect the ingredients. The correct sequence of steps must be observed.
Similarly, in the development of an ecosystem, or of the ecosphere as a whole, the steps must occur in the right order. An ecosystem cannot support carnivores until it has first given rise to herbivores, and the latter cannot possibly come into being unless the requisite vegetation has first appeared. Only a fixed sequence of events, from which but slight deviations can be tolerated, can account for the development of the highly complex biosphere of which we are part. This principle once more confirms the need for a general behavioural model. There is every reason to believe that this principle must apply to all behavioural processes.Back to top
Behaviour proceeds from the general to the particular. As most scientists today are concerned with particularities, generalities (which are difficult to study in laboratory conditions) tend to be ignored and are often referred to disparagingly as ‘value judgements’.
Nevertheless, it is they which are important. If the British army invades China what is important is not whether Sergeant Snooks has polished his bayonet, but whether the basic principle of invading China is right. It is the first and most general stages of any process which should concern us most. The implications are obvious in medicine, psychology and education, among other things. It establishes the mother as the basic educator, not the school, let alone the university.Back to top
A third principle of behaviour is worth considering. In embryology, Baer’s laws state that development is from the general to the particular, from which it must follow that the earlier an interference occurs the greater the damage it will do. The reason for this is that development occurs by differentiation.
Baer’s laws can be shown to apply equally well to everyday behaviour. When a man decides to eat a sandwich, a general instruction is issued by that particular centre in the brain that mediates eating behaviour. This message is differentiated at more and more particular strata, at each of which the instructions are adapted to specific environmental requirements. Similarly, when a general issues an order at army headquarters (HQ), the instructions will be differentiated at each echelon, i.e. at divisional HQ, brigade HQ, battalion HQ, company HQ, etc., and further adapted to local systemic requirements.
It is also evident that as we pass from the amoeba, whose single cell fulfils all those functions that are necessary to the maintenance of life, such as the seizing of prey, its digestion, the excretion of waste matter, respiration, reproduction, locomotion, etc., to the complex multicellular organism into which it eventually evolves, these same functions are fulfilled in a far more differentiated manner.
Specialised mechanisms have developed, perfectly adapted to fulfilling functions that were previously fulfilled in a more general way by a single cell. The same is also true as the artisanal workshop evolves into the large commercial enterprise, or a tribal society into a large centralised kingdom.
If those processes occurring at a particular level of development are but a differentiation of the more general processes occurring at the previous level, it is impossible to understand the former without reference to the latter. Once more we find ourselves faced with the necessity for a general behavioural model in order to understand any of the differentiated parts of the process enduring the development of the total ecosystem.Back to top
Behaviour does not proceed in a continuous way, but in jumps. Critical points are reached when specific systems cannot further increase their complexity (see 51. The Systemic Complexity Principle) without becoming unstable, except by associating with others to form a new one at a different level of complexity; thus atoms joined to form molecules, molecules to form cells. Also in the same way families join to form small communities (clans or villages) which in certain circumstances will join to form larger ones.
The limit to the size of a particular type of system is probably set by the extendibility of the bonds used to link together its constituent parts. In a social system these appear to be extensions of the family bonds and they will not extend very far.  There appears to be a limit to the size of a society capable of acting as a self-regulating and hence as a stable system, and such a system appears to be quite small. A monolithic nation stage is a relatively new institution and it does not satisfy these conditions in any way (see 6. The Ecosystem Principle).
Since the unit of study is the ecosystem, we should think of levels of complexity as those ecosystems compromising: molecules plus their respective environment, organisms plus their respective environment, etc.Back to top
A system, as we have seen, has an optimum structure, no surplus capacity and the parts are all differentiated. It is an integral whole, and the destruction of any of its parts can lead to total breakdown.
This is a point which has rarely been taken into account at a cultural level. Colonialist powers have constantly interfered in the most irresponsible way with the cultures of the societies they controlled. Missionaries and colonial administrators have tampered with the delicately adjusted cultural systems of highly stable and ecologically sound societies which they regarded as ‘primitive’ or ‘barbarous’, and their interference has brought about their breakdown.
The consequences for the inhabitants of these societies has been disastrous. They have usually become rootless members of a depressed proletariat in the shanty-towns we have thereby methodically created. The consequences for the ecosystem as a whole of imposing on such societies an energy and resource-intensive way of life have been equally disastrous. Also, by reducing cultural variety we have seriously reduced the stability of the world’s human population.
A culture, like all cybernisms, must be regarded as an integral whole. Its parts can only be examined teleonomically in accordance with their function within the whole. They cannot be judged in isolation, nor can the criteria used for judging them be those of other cultures for which they were not designed. Attempts to judge them thus would be purely subjective, as are the moral judgements of missionaries and colonial administrators.
The suppression of customs and institutions in simple societies that, judged by our particular standard of morality, may appear undesirable or even evil, can have fatal results on the cultures involved, very much as the extraction of specific organs from a body can result in its annihilation. This principle is so important that it is well worth illustrating in detail:
Figure to be supplied.Back to top
If one is acquainted with the culture of any ordered society and is capable of working out the role played by each of the customs and institutions within this culture – i.e. by determining in what way they contribute towards the adaptive behaviour of the society to its particular environment – one can easily imagine what would be the consequences of their suppression by outside interference. Let us take the case of the marital customs of the Comorians.
The people of the Comores have a complex social organisation, probably based on indigenous customs upon which were superimposed those of their Islamic conquerors. From the former they inherited a matrilineal and matrilocal tradition, from the latter a patrilineal and patrilocal one. Islamic marital law has also been adopted. As a result, there is polygamy and a high frequency of divorce. Indeed, so high is the latter that it is perfectly normal for a woman to have been married five to ten times.
From the experience gained in our culture, we would tend to associate such a consequent number of ‘broken homes’ with a very high rate of juvenile delinquency, schizophrenia and suicide. However, things do not work out that way. In the Island of Mayotte, delinquency is unknown. There are two schizophrenics out of a population of 30,000 and there have only been two murders in the last 50 years. The society has thus adapted itself to marital instability, which ours has not.
The reasons are two-fold. Firstly, by virtue of the institution of matrilinearity and matrilocality, a child is partly the responsibility of the mother’s clan. Many of the functions of fatherhood are in fact fulfilled by the mother’s elder brother, and inheritance, for instance, is primarily through him rather than through the father.
Secondly, by custom the step-father automatically assumes many of the responsibilities of fatherhood vis-a-vis the children that his new wife has had with previous husbands. The step-father, or ‘baba combo’, is, in particular, responsible for the payment of the very large expenses involved in the circumcision ceremony of his stepsons.
Also, the father’s role is reduced by the fact that the children are brought up in the mother’s home. In addition, as the father probably had several other wives, he would in any case have only been physically present in one particular house on one or two days a week. For all these reasons, divorce does not have the same unsettling effect in the Comores that it does in our society.
Now, supposing a busybody missionary or administrator suddenly decided that matrilinearity and matrilocality were vestiges of barbarity not to be found in modern advanced societies, and that they must therefore be abolished, unless he abolished at the same time many of the other customs making up this complex culture, the results would be disastrous. Schizophrenia, delinquency, and the other symptoms of social disorder would undoubtedly result, as they do in our society with the breakup of the nuclear family.
Indeed, to judge the customs of primitive people by applying socio-centric criteria in vacuo and then seeking to abolish those that conflict with the specialised sense of values applicable to our culture is very much like considering an animal deformed if its physical features differ from our own, and engaging a plastic surgeon to re-cast them in our likeness, regardless of any adaptive function they might fulfil within the animal’s particular behaviour pattern.
Malinowski expressed the notion of the integrity of cultures thus,
“When we come to the integral institutions of a tribe or a nation, matters become extremely complicated. And the reason for this is that an important institution like the family or chieftainship, ancestor worship or agriculture has its roots in all aspects of culture. It is connected with so many cultural realities, some of which it is by no means easy to alter, that nothing except a complete transformation of the whole society can provide a painless change, free from maladjustments. Thus the African family, plus polygamy, plus matriliny, plus bride-price, could be replaced by a patriarchal, Christian family based on Roman Law, the Code Napoleon, or English Civil Law. But such a change could only be achieved by transforming the whole society simultaneously, and by giving the necessary wherewithal to establish the new and more elaborate type.” 
This is clearly no longer true of a modern industrial society, all the different aspects of whose behaviour tend to become increasingly unrelated to each other. Thus, technologists are devising equipment without any knowledge of whether or not the energy will be available to power it or the environment will be capable of absorbing waste products that it would generate. The economics of our society are increasingly unrelated to its needs and to all the important aspects of the life of its citizens, etc.
This is the result of a breakdown in the mechanisms of social control. Science, divided as it is into a host of watertight compartments between which there is no communication, is incapable of replacing the cultural pattern which has previously ensured the integrated control of a traditional society.Back to top