Builds Upon: Superstition and the Mind of Society
With critical resources nearer to depletion and population approaching carrying capacity it pays to look at the macroscale.
Most individuals may wish to avoid a world wide catastrophe, but the sentiments of individuals can hardly reverse global trends.
It makes sense then to consider the problem then from the perspective of competing minds of society. In the present situation what is their best interest? What sort of society comes out on top?
Right now, we can think of the world’s societies as locked in a deadly game of chicken. If a society were to back out of the reproductive race(brake before driving off the cliff), it would swiftly be overwhelmed by its competitors. If it keeps on producing babies at the same pace(step on the gas), the result could be disaster.
Some possible victory conditions in this game:
-Restraining reproduction near max carrying capacity while opponents fail to do so and experience a Great Famine. The overpopulated but minimally fed society is left with its competitors at its mercy. In terms of chicken: backing down at the last moment while counting on the competitor to go over the edge. If the competitor doesn’t suffer a net loss from the fall, however, the result is defeat. A significant degree of risk with limited potential for achieving victory.
-Going aggressively over max carrying capacity but overwhelming everyone else in the process. As crisis hits, millions of your desperate people spread all around the world and grab precious resources from everyone else. They all eventually die, but not before taking down the competition with them. With your huge population, they can be thought of as expendable shock troops. After the Great Famine. Members of your society are the new world majority by proportion. The death toll was enormous but when the dust clears, your genetic legacy has been selected for. That is all that matters. You win. Continue to flood the world in successive waves of great famine until any remaining competitors have been either eliminated or assimilated. Then continue to have periodic Great Famines to keep clearing out the weak.
Your strategy: Drive straight off the cliff without caring what the opponent does and win by surviving the fall. If they drive off the cliff, you have placed your bet on being more resilient. If they don’t drive off the cliff, they lose when(if) you reach the bottom without suffering excessive injury. This strategy achieves victory the quickest, but it’s also the most risky. Your population could be utterly demolished if the famine doesn’t hit the competition just as hard.
-Going significantly over max carrying capacity to a limited degree. It will hurt to go over the limit, but your society has more food than the others. The competition will suffer worse when it too reaches excess. Let’s say you lose 10-20% of your population in the Great Famine while your competitors are hit much harder. Rinse and repeat.
If both of you drive off the cliff in this game of chicken your armored car equipped with extra air bags will give you the advantage.
If the other person brakes, famine reduces your population back to carrying capacity.
Back to square one. Low risk, relatively low yield.
Individuals don’t reason in these terms but social minds must. That’s why they’re still around after all these generations. Undoubtedly this isn’t the first time in human history that there have been games of Malthusian chicken.
Every society has survival strategies that arise in aggregate from millions of humans going about their every day lives and following their instinctual programs.
What becomes painfully clear is that the deaths and suffering of millions are meaningless to the collective mind. A society is selected for not when it produces a comfortable situation for its members, but when it outproduces the competition in offspring, keeps as many alive as possible to reproductive age, and successfully transmits its cultural programming so that the cycle will continue.
This one principle does much to explain why our world is no paradise. Were one society to settle into a utopia, it would soon find itself engulfed and eliminated by the half-starved, stressed out, malnourished, miserable competition. Every single one of their countless striving bodies is efficiently squeezed dry generation after generation. Such a state of perpetual struggle for individual cells is the predictable result of intense selective pressures upon the body as a whole.