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.
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.
In order to maintain the skim, a ruler has several mental tools:
- Claims of necessity. Make people fear that without the ruler, monstrous foreigners will invade and make things much, much worse.
- Inertia. Once people are moving in any given direction (such as paying the skim as a matter of course), they will tend to keep moving that way until an outside force deflects or stops them.
- Tradition. This is the story that it has always been this way, and that your grandparents (and their grandparents) have all lived this way and called it righteous. Tradition displaces analysis. At the gate of analysis (deciding if the skim is or isn’t good for you), tradition stands as a guardian saying, “You shall not pass.” To analyze would be to spit in tradition’s face.
- Fear of standing alone. The friends of rulership can be counted on to present images of conformity and to exalt the concept of unity. The effect of this is to raise the price of non-conformity. To question the skim, you must face the fear of becoming an outcast.
- Disguising fear. This is crucial and multifaceted. Rather than saying, “Pay taxes or armed men will imprison you,” for example, they must appeal to patriotism, shared sacrifice, helping the poor, or something. Of course it is true that people only pay because of fear, but that truth should not be seen. A plausible substitute must be provided.
There are many structures of rulership, of course, but all of them live on the skim. They just enforce and justify it differently. It used to be that the ruler claimed a special relationship with God or that he was a superior type of being. In modern times, a larger number of people were brought into rulership, making the broad population feel that they were also part of it. Through it all, however, humans could easily be broken down into those who are skimmed from, and those who are skimmed to.
So, if you live on the skim, your goal is for people to go along with your orders willingly…
At the same time, if you are the prey, the entire system is set to make you believe “It is right for other people to order me around.”
[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our flagship newsletter - Freeman’s Perspective – Issue #13: “Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 5 – Predatory Breakdown.” If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue, but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]