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The people within the collective may not - initially - choose to defect against the collective, but if the collective is in competition with other collectives, it'll likely find itself defecting against them (with reciprocity). Cooperate/defect applies recursively at all levels of social structure - from individuals to countries.

As for my "initially" remark, a collective of thousands is way too big to remain flat. I'd expect it to grow at least 2 layers of internal governance, at which point the "cooperate/defect" mechanism will start applying to people at one level trying to work together under rules set by the level above.

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