Fair points. All analogies have limits and you are right to point out that colonialism etc creates a distorting lens. I also agree that predation is just one of a range of successful survival strategies. And yes, having high birth and death rates can be a successful strategy, eg. cephalopods.Good_Egg wrote: ↑February 12th, 2022, 4:28 amSeems to me that the fallacy we need to avoid here is identifying the success of the group with the success of the individuals that comprise the group.Sy Borg wrote: ↑February 11th, 2022, 7:18 pm The Taliban is akin to a small, tough predator that ruthlessly preys on whatever it can dominate but does not much spread out, like a honey badger. Even apex predators can hesitate in the face of honey badger ferocity. It should be said that Afghanis are not thriving, so it's clear that the Taliban, being focused only on the welfare of the ruling posse, will prove to be a less effective ideology than those that aim to improve the welfare of people rather than just dominate them.
Suppose you ask people "if you could be any sort of animal, what sort of animal would you be ?" I'd bet that most of the animals people choose would be apex predators. Eagles and lions fit our notions of an attractive life for an individual.
But few biologists think that only apex predators are successful species. A successful species is one that survives a long time. Through factors such as adaptability to changing circumstances and the ability to fill a particular ecological niche better than potential rivals.
Species survival may involve high birth rates and high death rates, which may not be all that comfortable for the individuals involved.
What do we mean by success for nations and cultures? Is Poland a successful nation ? Do you answer that by GDP - a measure of whether Polish individuals live a materially comfortable life ? Or by whether Poland has been on the giving or receiving end of armed force by other nations ?
Does the analogy hold, or break down at this point ?
If we are to determine what is the difference between a "successful" nation and one that is doing poorly, analogies won't help because the differences can be subtle, eg. Who is the most successful culture - Poland, Hungary or Romania?
Still, we can at least distinguish between the most competitive and most uncompetitive societies. Ultimately, any culture that fails to utilise the potential half of its people will be at a disadvantage against cultures that educate and utilise the minds of women.
Historical attachments can also act a drag on societal strategies. A strategy may have been effective for centuries in the past, but is ineffective today. Consider how Japan and Germany became industrial powerhouses after WWII destroyed their old capital works, replacing them with state-of-the-art infrastructure. Likewise, we see latency in action with climate change; coal was essential to modernisation but has become problematic. Likewise, a culture's refusal to move on from old successful approaches, eg. subjugation of women, tribal affiliations can stymie their ability to compete with newer cultures.