This graph is a very typical display of the predator/prey relationship. It comes from a study on rabbits and coyotes, but the relationship is the same for all predator/prey tandems, from tiny parasites and their hosts to lions and antelopes. The predators always overfeed until the prey can no longer sustain them, then most of them die and the rest wait for the prey to replenish themselves.
It works in the same way for human governance. You are the rabbits; the rulers are the coyotes.
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This thought – that rulership is a predatory strategy – is uncomfortable for most of us. Nonetheless it is true. But there is a serious difference between human rulers and coyotes: Humans are intelligent beings, so the predators must use mental strategies more than physical strategies. The effective rule of humans must focus on their minds more than their bodies; unsupported physical domination is too difficult and expensive. This is why legitimacy matters so much in human governance.
The interesting thing about our current situation is that the rulers of the West retain their overwhelming power, but their legitimacy rests on a number of fragile structures. When one or two of them fail, the others may go down with them. And if this happens, the current system of rulership will not be rebuilt as it is now. What comes next may be better or may be worse, but it will not be the same.
The Reverse View
The graph above shows the predator/prey relationship between rabbits and coyotes. Very often in my writings, I take the rabbit’s view of the situation. Now I’d like to reverse that and explain the coyote’s view.
Rulership is an exercise in skimming. Think of your own interactions with your government – the primary exchange is that they take some of your production. This occurs in many ways: when you get a paycheck, when you pay your electric bill or phone bill, when you get a license plate for your car, every time you pay sales tax, and so on. Rulership lives on the skim.