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Portal:Society

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A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships (social relations) between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.

Insofar as it is collaborative, a society can enable its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis; both individual and social (common) benefits can thus be distinguished, or in many cases found to overlap. A society can also consist of like-minded people governed by their own norms and values within a dominant, larger society. This is sometimes referred to as a subculture, a term used extensively within criminology.

More broadly, and especially within structuralist thought, a society may be illustrated as an economic, social, industrial or cultural infrastructure, made up of, yet distinct from, a varied collection of individuals. In this regard society can mean the objective relationships people have with the material world and with other people, rather than "other people" beyond the individual and their familiar social environment.

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To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World is an open letter written on February 24, 1836, by William B. Travis, commander of the Texian forces at the Battle of the Alamo, to settlers in Mexican Texas. On February 23, the Alamo Mission in San Antonio, Texas, had been besieged by Mexican forces led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. Fearing that his small group of men could not withstand an assault, Travis wrote this letter seeking reinforcements and supplies from supporters. The letter was initially entrusted to courier Albert Martin, who carried it to Gonzales and then handed the letter to Launcelot Smithers. Partially in response to the letter, men from throughout Texas and the United States began to gather in Gonzales. Between 32 and 90 of them reached the Alamo before it fell; the remainder formed the nucleus of the army which eventually defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. After the Texas Revolution, the original letter was delivered to Travis's family in Alabama, and in 1893, one of his descendants sold it to the State of Texas. For many decades it was displayed at the Texas State Library; the original letter is now protected and a copy is on display under a portrait of Travis.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch. The left panel depicts God presenting Eve to Adam, while the central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation. The intricacy of its symbolism, particularly that of the central panel, has led to a wide range of scholarly interpretations over the centuries.

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Murray Rothbard
Murray Newton Rothbard (March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995) was an American economist, historian, and political theorist. He was a prominent exponent of the Austrian School of economics and fundamentally influenced the American libertarian movement and contemporary libertarian and classical liberal thought, by theorizing a form of free-market anarchism which he termed "anarcho-capitalism". Building on the Austrian School's concept of spontaneous order, support for a free market in money production, and condemnation of central planning Rothbard advocated abolition of coercive government control of society and the economy. He considered the monopoly force of government the greatest danger to liberty and the long-term well-being of the populace, labeling the state as "the organization of robbery systematized and writ large" and the locus of the most immoral, grasping and unscrupulous individuals in any society. Rothbard concluded that all services provided by monopoly governments could be provided more efficiently by the private sector. He viewed many regulations and laws ostensibly promulgated for the "public interest" as self-interested power grabs by scheming government bureaucrats engaging in dangerously unfettered self-aggrandizement, as they were not subject to market disciplines. Rothbard held that there were inefficiencies involved with government services and asserted that market disciplines would eliminate them, if the services could be provided by competition in the private sector. Rothbard was equally condemning of state corporatism, criticizing many instances where business elites co-opted government's monopoly power so as to influence laws and regulatory policy in a manner benefiting them at the expense of their competitive rivals. He argued that taxation represents coercive theft on a grand scale, and "a compulsory monopoly of force" prohibiting the more efficient voluntary procurement of defense and judicial services from competing suppliers. He also considered central banking and fractional reserve banking under a monopoly fiat money system a form of state-sponsored, legalized financial fraud, antithetical to libertarian principles and ethics.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt's January 6, 1941 State of the Union Address, using the theme of the Four Freedoms, which he felt represented universal rights in a well-formed society, to explain why he brought America to join World War II. (transcript)

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R. H. Tawney
R. H. Tawney, The Acquisitive Society (1921)

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