>In a /partial/ sense, it can. IE sometimes people's relationships
...individual interactions between people can't account for the whole of the culture. The presnt there is, at present, no culture which, as a whole is constructed to deliberately foster the cooperative interaction of its components. There is certainly no culture presently active which fosters the principle of cooperation with other cultures.
> Too absolutist, man. If the few have always benefited at the expense
> of the many, then the many should get progressively worse off as
> goes by, predicting that most people in modern Britain (say) should
> have less food/property/freedom than most people x-hundred years
...you're restricting your consideration to a particular geographical area. We MUST consider the world as an whole, because our actions within cultures effect the world as a whole. Right now the gap between the few [who have much - more than ever before] is bigger than at any previous time [to our knowledge] than has ever previously been the case.
> Erm, and I reckon most people now/here have better access to food,
> better medicines, better life expectancy/quality than they did in
> middle ages.
...where is "here"? Globally, this is not the case. Granted, the populations of certain areas of the world have access to all sorts of unutterably fantastic things, but this comes at the cost of people not "here". If it's far enough away, we generally don't give a damn - out of sight, out of mind.
If the many now have more than they did back in the day,
> then surely they're gaining from The Deal, in which case there's at
> least partial symbiosis going on somewhere.
...some cultures function effectively as units to extract materials from other cultures. The units of a dmoniator culture may act together - agreed, in partial symbiosis - with particular goals in mind, but on a larger scale humyn organisms are not encouraged to act together.