One day I came out to the yard after having been away on a trip for two days, and I discovered that the ants had deserted the aphids. I have no idea why. Whatever the reason, it is was a disaster for the aphids. I watched an assortment of beetles and bugs devouring the fat and unhappy little aphids. It was an aphid apocalypse. They could not survive outside the benevolent dictatorship.
Deceptive relationships -- systems that
are parasitic in their exchange dimension and negotiated in their
control dimension -- are possible only by the means of deceit. In the
natural order living systems generally act in their own interest, or
at least in the interest of their species and social groups. In
general they are not confused as to where their interests lie.
Sometimes this is not the case. The Portia spider is a good example. Its favorite food is other spiders. To begin with, the appearance of Portia spiders is deceptive. They can look like a bit of leaf detritus caught in a web, which enables them to deceive the owners of the web who recognize too late that they are dealing with a formidable predator. But it goes beyond this. Portias create a variety of vibrations on webs that mimic a trapped insect. And most diabolical of all, they will tap the species-correct courtship signals of a male spider on the web of a female. "Hey, Honey. I'm home." There are many other examples of deceit and trickery in a nature, but with the introduction of language deceit becomes much simpler and more pronounced. More pervasive. By the use of well-constructed language, people in social groups can be, and often are, misled as to what is in their interest.
The pigeons, songbirds, flowers, skunks, squirrels, and gray foxes that frequented our front yard were in a gardungle relationship with us. We enjoyed their presence and they enjoyed our food. They were not able to force us to give them more food than we wished to, and we were not able to force them to come to the yard. Thus our relationship was symbiotic and negotiated. It was democratic. However the relationship between the various visitors to our yard were not necessarily either negotiated or symbiotic. We often observed, for example, a large cat that roamed the neighborhood. He would come to our yard to stalk the pigeons. Perhaps he was hired by our neighbor -- the one with the roof. From a pigeon's point of view, the cat was not offering them a mutually enhancing relationship. Judging by a couple of piles of feathers that appeared on the lawn, it appeared that the cat was occasionally successful in imposing its own notion of a beneficial relationship.
Clearly not every relationship we observed among the various visitors was both negotiated and symbiotic. On the contrary a wide variety of relationships were in evidence. However, when one observed each individual animal or species in relationship to total ecological system of which they were part, this relationship was always both symbiotic and negotiated. Each individual animal, or plant, both contributed something to the larger order, and derived something from it. In this way symbiosis prevailed. Also, the individual animal was not able to force the system as a whole to provide its needs. Nor was the ecological system as a whole able to dominate the individual animals and species.
There is one outstanding exception to the principle that most individual animals or species have a relationship to the whole that is symbiotic and negotiated. That is the relationship that human beings have with the ecological order of the earth. They can dominate not only individual plants and animals, but whole ecologies, from the micro level to the macro level. With regard to my front and back yards, I was the only entity that was capable of deliberately and radically altering, or even be destroying, the entire order. I could at any time, if I wished, convert both my front and my back yard into dull monocultures. On the macro level we see the same thing. Human beings are the only species that is capable of deliberately modifying the ecological structure of the whole. It can adopt either a symbiotic or a parasitic relationship to the rest of the earth.
So this takes us from the microcosm to the macrocosm. Global capitalism is parasitic.
In relation to the ecological system as a whole, capitalism is openly exploitive. It takes a lot, and gives little of value back. Little or no deceit is necessary. Global capitalism simply overpowers any aspect of the system it wishes to exploit. In the process, it spreads huge amounts of its indigestible wastes on the ground, and pumps them into the water and air -- CO2, heavy metals, radiation, and poisonous chemicals of all kinds. Being able to take such a huge amount from the ecology while giving very little in return makes for a happy parasite in the short run, but it is not sustainable. Eventually such activity kills the host. The global elite seems to forget that the earth is the only host it has.
Global capitalism is also parasitic in relation to the majority of people who inhabit the earth. If all these people joined together, they would not be so easy to dominate as, say, a herd of buffaloes. So the ones in control resort to deceit, and use naked force only when people continue to see what is in their interest despite the propaganda. The elite is very good at deceit. They have made a science of it. People who want to make lots of money study the skills of deceit for many years, building on the information gained in the past. This kind of deceit goes by many names. Public relations. Slanting the news. Advertising. The elite are humanity's Portia spiders.
Some people have noticed how global capitalism is functioning, and they conclude that if they could just find a way to weed out the Portia spiders at the top, things would be all right. What they don't understand is that unregulated capitalism makes it inevitable that only Portia spiders rise to the top. Get rid of one spider, and another will take its place. If anything different is going to happen the system itself must be radically altered.
We need a gardungle. We need for the earth to become an ecosphere where the natural environment and the humanly engineered one interact to the benefit of both. Humanity's relationship to the rest of creation must become symbiotic -- mutually sustaining. And the relationships between people and between countries must become democratic in true sense of the term. Both resources and decision-making must be shared in an equitable manner. Humanity will not remain deceived forever by a relationship that is secretly exploitive in the extreme. Nor will they rest content with one that is openly exploitive. If we continue down the current path we will face a dying ecological system on the one hand and a uncontrollable revolution on the other. This is not a Scylla and Charybdis that even those clever capitalists are going to be able to successfully negotiate.
If we are not able to create a gardungle, there is little chance that the earth will continue to support humanity in an acceptable manner. Perhaps it will not support us at all. I think, at least on some level, most people know this. Why, then, is there such resistance to real change? That's not a hard question to answer when one is talking about the elite. They don't want to give up their privilege or their toys. But what about the rest of us? Well, many are still deceived as to what is really in their interest. But what about those of us who are not? Why do we go on voting for what we perceive to be the lesser of two evils on so many fronts, and not demand the kind of change we know we need?
Radical change is difficult to come by. It is unrealistic, we tell ourselves. Maybe it's already too late -- the key tipping points may already have passed us by. So we settle. Or we give up. Perhaps it really is unrealistic to unseat unregulated global capitalism at this point. Perhaps we are not sufficiently unified, or smart enough, or powerful enough.
But my point is simple. Only a gardungle will provide us with a life worth living. It is even possible that only a gardungle will allow for our survival. To say that we cannot achieve radical change in a short period of time is to say that the good life, and perhaps life itself, is not possible for our species. Perhaps that is true. Maybe humanity was just a tragic experiment -- a species with a fatal flaw. But we don't know that. So let's pretend that we still have time. It's possible. But if there is to be any hope at all we must revamp the system in a radical way. Now. So I'll meet you in the gardungle.
1 | 2