Thursday, February 23, 2012

Political ecology in Australia (Labor's woes)

In the book Dune, by Frank Herbert, one of the main protagonists observes that the biggest threat to most creatures is one of their own kind. This is for the reason that they are in direct competition and that "they share the same basic requirements" -- they eat the same food, seek the same shelter, compete for the same mates, etc.
I thought of this quote recently, watching the antics of the Australian Labor party. Their ideological enemy, the Liberal party, are sitting on amusedly watching Labor tear itself apart. Why are members of Labor so busy fighting each other when their foe sits clearly across the chamber?
I think the reason is highlighted in the above quote. Labor has its niche, and the Liberal party has its niche -- members of each party tend not to change allegiance, and so remain in their party's "territory" in the political "landscape" as though they were fenced within it. Because of this, individuals within each party are effectively competing with others in the same party for positions of power and influence within that party's territory -- in exactly the same way as animals in an ecosystem compete for food and procreation. The fact that they are trashing their "ecosystem" to compete for the resources it contains has an unhappy similarity to humans fighting over resources and reminds me of Solomon's edict to "cut it in two."

This post was written by Angus Wallace and first appeared at

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