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"Survival of the fittest" is played out according to which person/group/species has the best plan to survive the next microsecond, not the next million years.

I think that there exist many survival patterns, not only "survival of fittest". They are employed in the Nature in various and variable proportions. Short term selfishness is not a universal answer to all survival problems. To survive for thousands of generalizations, you need to survive consequences of short-term optimal survival strategies (by your kind and other kinds) as well.

I think the greatest failure of human intelligence is the "recognition" of aggression and greed as undeniable drivers of any living. The world worked all fine without Chigaco economists and modern neocon planners. In the fast changing world, the assumption "It has always been like this" becomnes dangerous. If greed is such a perfect builder of well being, why the world is getting more greedy now? What was it "thinking" before?!

Yeah, you need to deal with the destructive drivers, but:

  1. more aggression and greed is not the only answer (though other answers are not easy);
  2. more aggression and greed causes more frequent and severe crisises.
We have to learn to deal with the greed cycles of ourselves. At the monent, there is just no adequate opposition to the greedy and "be fittest" memes.

Lucky are those "selfish" genes: they do not have to perceive and evaluate how really selfish they are. They can only be so much selfish most of the time as to perform their function as well as they did in thousands of generations before - discrete short-range functionality improvements within a finite alphabet are limited. Even the predator/prey "arm races" soon reach a stable equilibrium where Natural Selection does nothing new but rejects (with certain probabilities) less fit deviations, seen again many times over. The tiny fitness advantages ("chances of survival") may build over some time, and even escalate sometimes, but that does not mean that the "sleepy" genes or agents will be driven out - before long they might be crucial winners or the only survivors of "sudden" (but not unseen in Nature) predicaments.

Greed and bully are beaten by prudent survival patterns many times over... until a new folly group or species appears, of course. Then isolate the foolish again, let them collapse, feest on them... It's not all "stalemated war between species" - most species knew benefits of greed some times, but tasted those "tragedy of common" effects as well. The short-term selfish drive is almost ever persistent, but it is not so vigorous and uncontrolled as we are told to see. Slow declines can be overcome if only collapses of "oppressors" are regurlarly ensured.

The civilization just did not learn yet any other survival pattern but stupid aggression and greed.

We may not avoid this time a collapse with a 8 billion global population and the technology chaos we have. But at the next cycle, the Earth may harbour a human population of 20 billion, with vastly more complex technology yet better functioning environment, and still lazily growing. I don't think technology management is the problem that causes collapses. (We had isolated collapses with much more primitive technologies.) The problem is ethics management, so to speak.

by das monde on Wed Jul 11th, 2007 at 10:54:42 AM EST
I am reminded of a lecture on rainforests were the lecturer pointed out that these systems are way old (equator - no iceages) and actually creates part of their climate. The rainforests causes rain, not the other way around. And there is so many niches where species has found a resonably stable existence. It can contain so much life because the system is so complex and rich.

But then modern industrialised humans come along and chop it down to have acres for beef-cows or sugar to drives cars on. Next time the rainforest has to be more hostile to humans...

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by A swedish kind of death on Wed Jul 18th, 2007 at 01:17:23 PM EST
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