Hive civilization or individualism

Some science fiction stories describe hive type civilization.  Hive species have certain advantages but they cannot become a technological civilization, thus reducing drastically their chances to become dominant species, not to say spacefarers.

A hive has the advantage of an absolute ruler. Thus, it’s actions as a group are coherent and disputes never get in the way of a task.  Individualism tends to get in the way of accomplishing group tasks. But exactly the centralized decision making model is the main limitation of such a civilization.  There is no competition, thus progress is slow, adaptability is reduced.

A hive civilization could dominate a continent or even a planet without the help of very advanced tools. This very domination will inhibit progress. It’s easier to inhibit population growth when you can control every individual of the specie. Population growth is the main drive of expansion.

At the other extreme, purely individualistical civilization cannot form. The lack of cooperation takes care of this part. A civilization requires cooperation and specialization in order to progress.

Alien Civilization – Contact

Regarding the event of a contact with an alien civilization, we usually have 2 scenarios: war or salvation for whatever problem we have. Both are extreme, but the outcome is quite simple: Change. A change that has both of war and of salvation.

War requires an aggressive civilization. Aggressive civilizations can’t maintain themselves for long periods of time, they tend to get devised and to resent technological, political and social advances. In the immensity of space, it’s hard to believe that aggressive civilizations will always find foes to conquer in order to maintain their aggressiveness. Long periods of peace are required in order to advance sufficiently for space exploration. Peace has a tendency to soften aggressiveness.

Salvation requires a civilization with vast resources that has nothing to gain or to lose. Yeah, right. Such a civilization cannot evolve, it has no reason to evolve. In the end it becomes just as conservative as an aggressive civilization.

An alien civilization will have it’s aggressiveness, will be prosperous and will have economic interests, They won’t conquer us, but any contact with a more advanced civilization (and a civilization capable of space flight is more advanced then we are) will mean the absorption of their values and the loss of some of our values. We will lose some resources, but probably those resources we don’t know how to use.

All in all, we will win more than we will lose. We will learn faster what we have lost, than we would usually had, see, it’s a win.