We Created Cheaters, Stop Letting Them Kill our Planet
Population Game Theory
If we want to understand why our planet is teetering on the edge of collapse, we have to look at the population game theory used by Richard Dawkins in explaining cellular evolution. He used the argument for reproduction and population success by linking it to the distribution or, as I like to say, conservation of actions within a fixed system. I’m going to paraphrase the analogy he used in his book “the selfish gene” to describe dominant genes in a genetic population. Imagine you have two types of monkeys in a communal group: back scratchers and fake scratchers. Back scratchers do just that, scratch the backs of other monkeys and remove ticks and bugs from their fur, expecting to get scratched in return. Fake scratchers get scratched but don’t return the favour; instead, they leave before reciprocating, leaving the back scratcher monkey with bugs and dangerous ticks in its fur. Let’s pretend that scratching was the means for survival. If only back scratchers exist in the population, everyone is happy and healthy: you scratch a back; you get yours scratched in return. When there is an imbalance, let’s say there are more fake scratchers, the back scratchers are outnumbered and overtasked. If this trait were like a gene, then they (back scratchers) would eventually die out from a lack of reproduction (assuming they died before mating age), and there would only be fake scratchers left. Meaning, no one would scratch anyone else’s back because they know they would be getting cheated, just like they would do themselves. If this practice is key to the monkeys’ survival, first the backscratchers die out, then the fake scratchers soon follow.
This is the problem with society and the individualistic mentality that has shaped our current economic and political systems.
Our population has embraced a system of cheating. We cheat each other to maintain our comfort level, with the least impact on ourselves, and this has bred a lot of problems for us to overcome. But it doesn’t seem like we will unless we can “cheat” someone else, and that’s the problem recusing back in on itself.
This system starts with ideological indoctrination that we aren’t owed anything by society; we owe it. This is like the way that you pay taxes to live in a country, that’s resources don’t belong to you, and you aren’t entitled to their value. We commonly phrase it as being respectful for sacrifice or acknowledging our privilege but, then why do we revile our grandeur and not do what is necessary to help others, both foreign and domestic? Why do we let inequality run rampant when we know the solutions? At what point do we cast off society’s norms because they don’t seem to work for us, just for some.
This is also why you work for someone else, making them more money than they pay you because they gave you tools, a desk, or access to something to manipulate for productivity.
This is systemically ingrained cheating, and it seems commonplace, it shouldn’t be.
This system’s rigidity allows for things like birth and inheritance to stratify the concept of equal beings by staggering the starting point to live. Nature already does this; we shouldn’t help. This is like all the fake cheaters in the analogy, except we perpetuate the imbalance: by letting the cheaters continue to control the mechanisms of the social system in which we live. Furthermore, we are constantly distracted from the issue by the practice of making us more accustomed to cheating others: so we don’t notice we are being cheated in the first place. Often enough, all this indoctrination needs is the ambition to succeed in the fundamentally broken system of cheating. You can’t achieve without drinking the Koolaid, and it tastes like narcissism, backstabbing, power worship, greed, and adherence to the consequences of history and legality only when in their favour. But it’s okay; we want to be accepted and do well, so this behaviour should be allowed, normalized and perpetuated.
This game is present on multiple levels of our interactions and organization, and the consequences are now globally apparent. The slow movement on climate change, the neo-liberal globalization movement and the associative war economies to maintain a leg up on others, “before they cheat us.” These are false issues that make us blind to our system’s problems because they are created by the systemic cheating ingrained in our system. We are only dressing up and accentuating our society’s problems to condone the actions of high powered cheaters trying to maintain power to the global detriment, which seems stupid because those with the means to be educated in these systems don’t seem to understand the impending issues associated with their cheating, deceptive and controlling practices on variables you can’t simply buy back the planet and our modern quality of life later down the line.
Petrol companies and lobbying groups pay anti-climate change science and think tanks. To muddle the social conversation and distract from the issues we face in our environment. There is no separating nature and cities, it shelters us from climate change, and we rely on the sections of it for production in areas to live our modern lives.
International trade organizations enable corporations to sue governments for responsible and environmentally protective legislation. They do this to cheat the publicly held standard of the protection of our resources and to cheat the consequences in favour of profit.
Resource control fuels war and foreign policy, to maintain global control via essential resources for multinational corporations based in the aggressor’s countries. Even most humanitarian efforts are bogged down by the sale of arms to the aggressor, we preach human rights but worship the almighty dollar bill. It is a sick lie when we advocate spreading democracy and leave death in its wake because it pays better.
We are shown people abroad that hate us, so we should attack. We are shown people in our society that take our jobs, so we should hate them. What we aren’t shown are the people who pollute our democracy for pure political theatre: wealthy corporate and private interests that need the government to enable their unsustainable growth by cheating.
Cheating the public is the source from which they extract their wealth.
Capitalism — Cheating 101
This shouldn’t be a surprise when we live in a capitalistic society. What is capitalism? Its extracting wealth along a value chain. This is most easily done when one can control the chain and the variables that affect it. It is also using existing wealth to fund ventures that yield a return on capital, thus extracting from a new value chain of a living entity. The practice should be a reasonable system, if properly regulated and open to competition, breeds lower prices and efficiency. However, the ability for corporations to be, for all intents and purposes, ‘super people’ makes them hard to control and contain: they have limited liability, longer lifespans, can claim national rights to resources and subsidies in countries they aren’t even from or based in, making them unfair in comparison to ordinary people.
Moreover, since corporations are proportionally more wealthy than any other social actor, they can fund political lobbying and direct policy formation through influence either directly or by economic ransom — threatening job loss, which is the only thing that politicians brag about: because we all need jobs to eat, we think it benefits our society/country. (However, we seem not to notice the type of job creation) This systemic advantage is rooted in the money game and allows people and corporations to cheat the public for their continued private gains.
We are in a situation where the public is feeling the brunt of being repeatedly ripped off, abused and incited against one another, which breeds the ugly face to the social inequalities that cheaters use to divide further and distract the public. This only occurs because, in our interconnected societies, we have preserved cheaters and the means to cheat. We become them through thought while the advantaged few have changed the social rules: so they could keep on cheating all of us and call it global economics, politics, capitalism, etc.
We need to stop this before the population collapses. It’s a simple problem solved by connecting and uniting (the idea of solidarity is the only antidote to individualism), and those that tell you it is not, are lying. They operate as if they were only made to exponentially consume to satisfy if only momentarily, their insatiable desires and only understand a single facet of our identity and our interconnected reliance in life. They only know the superficial, so it seems impossible for them to grasp the vital. That’s why we keep letting them kill our democracies, freedom and our planet. It destroys us, and the cheaters understand that division makes us weak and petty issues are the fuel for chaos. Dividing your enemies is the oldest military tactic, and economics and business are based on militant ideology. We need to embrace the idea of altruism and mutual benefit that respects all individuals as equals. When we lose sight of our common right to the earth because of nuanced reasoning to why we don’t deserve it or systemic realities, it can easily be cast away by the concept of equity and the lottery of life: any other reason is derived by ideas that disregard these elements as less than central and therefore destroys the argument being made in the first place.
Wake up to the illusion of difference: we are all the same; we’ve simply made systems that tell us otherwise, and cheaters exploit it to keep it that way.