|The Poverty of Success||10.04.12|
The Diminishing of AlternativesYuroc
There is a deep-seated issue with the way our western civilization has evolved. The underlying assumption, that few question, is the Darwinian survival of the fittest idea. The strongest individual prevails. But, when one considers a grizzly bear sitting on a fire-ant nest, one has to reconsider a few things. Size and strength do not win every time. Cooperation beats competition almost all the time.
Another unfortunate aspect of letting competition decide who dominates the market is the principle of the poverty of success. Here is an example: gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. A decade or so ago, gluten intolerance was considered a rare genetic aberration, occurring in perhaps 0.04% of persons worldwide. Now it affects perhaps 1%, an increase of 25 times. Why?
In ancient times there were many varieties of grain being grown around the world. Some were more suitable for baking bread than others, and those varieties were planted more often. Less desirable strains died out. Today wheat is the single largest crop in cultivation, and almost all of it is gluten-rich. The relatively sudden proliferation of gluten-rich wheat in our diet is now causing a reaction, called celiac disease. So many people have this reaction that a large market in gluten-free foods has become established.
Were the wide variety of ancient grains still being cultivated, those allergic to gluten would have less of an ordeal. But those grains are largely gone, due to the poverty of success. One thing wins, and the losers are allowed to die out. A problem arises, and there are few alternatives.
You see the same principle anywhere you look. Oil money supported legislation that encouraged heavy trucks at the expense of railroads, which are much more efficient on fuel. Now the oil has peaked, and its price will continue to rise, making efficiency much more or a consideration, but the railroads have been allowed to die off to a great degree. They are not much of an alternative any more. The poverty of success.
The Irish potato famine came from the success of the potato at the expense of other diverse crops. When the blight hit, there was no alternative. The banks that are too big to fail "succeeded" in consuming their smaller alternatives. They fell into greed-driven excesses, causing the second greatest economic calamity the US has ever known, but there was little alternative, since the "losers" had been eaten by the "winners." The poverty of success.
Politically, two American parties have "succeeded," eliminating significantly different alternatives. Now both are widely seen to be out of touch, offering candidates that differ little from each other. Where is the Green Party? What candidate supports cooperative communities and organic, local agriculture? Who is championing a path into a new culture, based on a new paradigm? The poverty of success.
The massive grizzly bear will soon vacate his seat on the fire-ant nest, but not because a bigger, tougher bear forced him off. It will be because cooperation is a stronger strategy than competition, as currently defined and practiced. Cooperation will win out. The only question will be how much damage the grizzlies will do before they vacate our neighborhood.
What makes our global situation particularly precarious is that the poverty of success has left much of world with few alternatives after the grizzlies leave. When local varieties of rice have died out because Monsanto patented GMO seeds that turn out to be disastrous later, what will the people eat?
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