Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There!

The left – environmentalists in particular – have long had an affinity for the jungle. The majesty and biodiversity of unmolested nature have inspired generations on the left to protect the jungle from man’s adulterous hands. In response, the right has often scorned such appreciation as the sentiment of mere hippies and tree-huggers. The jungle becomes a battleground between conservationists and capitalists.

But while the left claims the ‘righteous path’ of stewardship of the jungle, there is a lesson found in there that offers profound support to the beliefs of the right. If one spends a small quantum of time in a jungle, it becomes apparent that it is a prime metaphor for capitalism.

At first this may seem contradictory. After all, the common understanding the jungle is the epitome of nature, while the market is the embodiment of man’s conquest of nature. However, the fact often overlooked is that the market-system is nature. Men, in their hubris, often try to separate the world of mankind from the natural, forgetting that although humankind certainly has an inordinate power to alter his landscape, it still operates within the system of nature.

The beauty and biodiversity of the jungle arise from the same source that fosters the market-system – competition. Every actor in the jungle, whether plant or animal, is operating in its own self-interest, for its own survival. And while many environmentalists attempt to hang their hats on the concept of balance-of-nature, what is missed is that this balance comes spontaneously and is in no way planned. The panther is not a noble creature that consciously oversees the inner workings of jungle, but a selfish individual that takes what he can to provide for his own survival. If he fails, he dies; if he succeeds, someone else dies. There is no concept of justice, simply a self-correcting balance.

This leads to a high level of competition and subsequently specialization. This becomes abundantly clear if one looks at the profusion of wildlife and the niche roles that each species plays in the jungle system. Not only does competition develop this specialization, but it leads to a tangible wealth. The wealth of the jungle is a rich mosaic of life, of colors and of activity. In practice, the world of Charles Darwin is not that far from the market system of competition as elucidated by Adam Smith.

What is striking is that so many environmentalists stand against the notions of capitalism and never realize that they grow from the same source. This does not mean to disregard the natural competition in which environmentalists and capitalists engage over the use (or lack of use) of natural resources – which obviously puts them at odds. However, what is significant is that many can recognize the beauty of this natural, competitive process in the environment, while simultaneously dismissing it in the human environs of the world. In truth, those that appreciate this magnificence in nature should, at least in a philosophical sense, fall closer to the capitalists of the right, than the socialist planners of the left.


  1. Except that they believe they are (sublimely) "right" and also have the right/obligation to coerce society into doing what they feel is right for humanity. In that respect, they share the wonderfully self-centered and arrogant nature of the left. Witness the lawless behavior of Greenpeace.

  2. Jim~

    Valid point - but the question is why? There obviously is a need for coercion in socialist and other leftist beliefs. After all, you cannot have central planning without telling people what to do.

    Since you brought up eco-terrorists, which I tihnk is an apt point, it made me wonder if "capitalist-terrorists" were possible? I'm not quite sure how or if it could work - I can't imagine people leading terrorist attacks to force others to buy certain products. Its striking that it is an ideology that due to its nature is seemingly opposed to the pitfall (namely violent coercion) that nearly all ideologies fall prey to. Just a thought though.


  3. I have always thought that recycling is coerced behavior. It seems to be the only place in Western culture where forced, unpaid labor (slavery) is allowed. I would call that capitalist terrorism of a kind.

    Another example is people having no choice in purchasing toilets. You MUST buy the current water-saving products, even though they are not as effective. The coercion is not violent. Perhaps it cannot be in our society. It seems to me to be an extension of the politicization of views. The steps seem to be:

    1. Surface an issue (environment, gay rights, etc.)
    2. Politicize it in the MSM
    3. Seize opportunity in the 4th branch of government.
    4. Insert personal beliefs into government actions.

    Personally, I am not against green endeavors. I just hate coercion.

    You asked "why?" One thing I have noticed in many dialogs with left participants is ridicule. Every time an invitation to discuss/debate surfaces, the left resorts to ridicule to stub off the honest exchange of ideas. I think of that as a form of coercion, as well. I am guessing that they think of themselves as intellectually superior (in a greater good for greater numbers kind of way). They need to understand the "Trolley Problem" on an up-close, personal basis. Every person for whom they reduce liberties is less of a human.

    Bit of an old fart rant there. ;-}

  4. Jim~

    I think you're absolutely right that your examples involve coercion, but is that really capitalism (or maybe more correct the free-market) that is committing those acts or distortions to the competitive system? I would argue that its these ideas - namely environmentally friendly products - that have overriden the fundemental nature of the free-market and the 'terrorism' (it may be too strong of word here) is external to this system.



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