In this section, we will seek to answer the question, “Where is there any society based on mutualism and cooperation?” This is done from a perspective of ‘simple’ or pre-industrial societies, modern nations, intentional communities, alternative institutions, social movements, parallel subcultures, archetypical figures, and daily anonymous heroes. We will review in some detail certain samples of these different benchmarks, emphasizing that they need not be perfect to serve as alternative models, and end by asking whether or not conflict and competition would have any appropriate place in a culture of peace.
Here, too, are found referents that teach valuable lessons regarding the process of organizing and developing a different kind of society. For example, Norway is a country whose culture of peace has attracted much attention recently. Several modern nations of Asia have millenary cultures that have long been acknowledged and studied for their extraordinary levels of harmony and synergy. They are also the result of joint decisions to achieve a peaceful society, express it in tangible forms and practices, and pass on both this conviction and its outer expressions from early childhood.
This is another important source of often-invisible referents that coexist alongside, below the surface, or sometimes against the current of the predominant culture. A classical example of this is the so-called ‘private sphere’, traditionally managed by women, which is characterized by cooperation, conciliation, preservation, kindness, and compassion. It coexists with the ‘public sphere’, conventionally dominated by men, with its patterns of competition, conflict, conquest, aggression, and insensitiveness. The public sphere tends to be the most visible and outspoken, but it is the private sphere that has enabled humankind to survive the damage it has caused.