A true predator is a threat to anyone and everyone. On top of the food chain, and on top of their game, they are versatile, non-fussy eaters that have no particular preference for their food source. Their job is to clear out the table, and clear out the space. Some of the things that have been found inside a shark’s stomach have included: bottles of wine, licence plates, furcoats, videocameras, even a drum set.
There is another predator that displays exactly the same versatility and adaptability to any situation: human capitalism. It is by definition opportunistic, and able to mutate quickly in order to maintain a profit even in times of crisis. Predatory capitalism knows no morality or social justice: it is there to clear out the weak and the old members of the herd. But if it is able to, and finds the right opportunity, it will also go after the healthy parts of society. It will do anything it takes to make a profit.
Aside from limiting the number of offspring that predators can have, nature doesn’t really have a way of controlling a predator’s population. Because it simply doesn’t need to. Predators are controlled by the good old supply and demand equation. If there is nothing to eat, predators simply go hungry and die. In this way, it is very true what biologists always say: that the presence of predators is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. If nature has enough prey to provide, then you see sharks and tigers all over the place. However if nature is unhealthy, the sharks and the tigers are often the first to go extinct. They are the most high-maintenance.
Being on the very top of this food chain, even above the sharks and the tigers, humans have spectacularly failed to realize their precarious position. We have already exhausted the planet’s capacity to feed the 8 billion predators in our civilization. Despite converting Earth into a massive food factory catering specifically to humans, we’ve run out of resources to cover the demand. We have eaten to extinction many of our food sources. Our industrial activity is polluting the very life-giving ecosystems we rely upon for our sustenance, and climate change is permanently dismantling not only food production systems but anything that lives on the planet, triggering a systemic mass extinction event. Sitting at the dizzying heights of the very top of the food pyramid, and at unsustainably high numbers, predators like humans are poised to experience by far the most spectacular fall of all species.
But a hungry shark, a hungry bear, can be a very vicious animal. So vicious that it will begin to turn on itself. When predators become desperate, they begin to eat each other. It is called cannibalism, and it is another way for nature to ensure that at least a few predators survive to make it to the end of the extinction event. For humans, as we enter the 6th mass extinction, the sheer size of our population represents a vast food source that has not been utilised yet. Or has it?
Because although we may not be eating each other in a literal sense, we have ingenious ways of annihilating each other, more than any other species on Earth. In fact come to think of it, war and homicide make complete sense as a top predator population control measure, from a biological and ecological point of view. It is cannibalism re-invented. But do we really need to continue going in this direction? Sacrifice the world’s population so that a few Mad Max rogue characters survive?
Beware. Because the sharks are already getting very hungry. The hungrier they get, the more they see previously inedible specimens in new light. These are suddenly beginning to look a lot more appetizing. And the more they begin to look at each others hungry faces, the more the sharks of our society begin to see each other as hunks of meat as opposed to other human beings. This mutated form of Capitalism is the perfect vehicle for the tigers in our society to scratch a few more calories out of an increasingly desolate Earth, for the sharks to squeeze out any last remaining nutrition out of an increasingly bleached coral reef. In its desperation, predatory capitalism is expanding the list of what’s on its menu. Genocide, Colonisation and Slavery were capitalism’s old tricks: the tricks on which such “great” nations as the US and UK have built their rich empires. Exploitation of the ethnic minorities, the George Floyds of the world, the third world countries, were the most profitable and efficient ways for these empires to expand their economic power. But the times are tough. In the days of Climate Change and COVID-19, the food menu needs to expand and include more people. No one is exempt from the menu anymore, and this includes you and me:
Privacy Rights and Personal Information
Shoshana Zuboff has very accurately coined the term Surveillance Capitalism: the monetization of our personal data by the Googles and Facebooks of this world. Acquiring it for free, and selling it on. Each of us becomes a product, bought and sold. Whereas each one of us used to be a closed box of chocolates, we are now the perfect food parcel for the sharks: the wrapping is fully transparent, and there is even a chart in the box that tells the shark everything about the chocolates: who they are, who they vote for, where they live and what they buy. The microtargeting perpetrated by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to control multiple elections across the globe, including the Brexit Referendum and UK election, was only a first experiment for what awaits us in the future. All of us are on the way to becoming tastier and tastier pre-packaged and self-marketing products for the increasingly desperate sharks. They can target us, manipulate our votes, our wallets, and when they are done with us, spit us out and sell us for scraps.
Our mental health is also for sale. It is edible. Surveillance in the work environment, “always on” remote working cultures, zero hours contracts, undocumented immigrant work and increasingly undocumented overtime have attempted to turn workers across the world into robots without physical endurance limits rather than actual human beings with needs, physical and emotional. In fact, in expectation of the automation revolution, humans are either made redundant or asked to perform the efficient work of the robots which are yet to arrive. A new workers revolution is needed to safeguard the human rights of employees in the face of the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution that is already upon us.
Isn’t it ironic that two of the most rich and powerful nations in the world, the UK and US, saw their healthcare systems totally collapse during the pandemic: lack of beds, lack of ventilators, lack of PPE. It wasn’t the lack of funding, it was the lack of a conscience that caused this. Their governments opted to protect the sharks rather than protect the people, by delaying lockdowns and looking after the big companies with huge bailouts than bailing out the unemployed. And they covered it all up with lie upon lie upon lie. These are not governments. These are predators that have turned on their own people. We are living in the age of Bankocracy, where capital and profit are the factors that determine social policy.
For the first time, all of humanity is in the same sinking boat. All people, all races, all nations. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, rich or poor. This predatory monster has mutated and it’s coming after all of us. If we stand united we can reject the profit-driven system that has been the powerhouse of our civilisation for centuries, and which is destroying our planet as we speak. We can find ways to distribute wealth more equally. To reduce exploitation, and therefore our impact on the planet. But it will take nothing less than a revolution to do this. Either way, this predator is about to have their reckoning, whether they like it or not. It is simply a matter of biology. It is Nature’s Law.
3 thoughts on “When Predators Turn on Themselves”
Mostly as counterpart to “predator theme” – I was reading this line of thought ..so, while sharks exist – there is no need to emulate them down here …
Nice one thank you
Humans are suffering from ignorance, aka lack of self awareness, which leads to speciesism, aka human supremacy, unbridled narcissism, which leads to very clever exploitation, and eventual extinction. Tragically we derive pleasure from predation and winning, which leads to eventual loss of a healthy life. Life is a very clever form of cannibalism with limits, a kind of honor system as spelled out in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. The snake eating its tail carefully. Love Rick