Cancer develops when a cell “defaults” from cooperating with its neighbours and starts running amok, surging ahead, out-competing its neighbours. We all know how this ends. This is but one analogy presented in this podcast on cooperators. And we can, I am sure, conjure some other analogies.
The mathematics behind some of this can cause some wonky thinking in itself. However please don’t be bamboozled by the maths or the conflicting scientists! And there are also a number of informative comments and criticisms on the podcast web page. I cannot recommend more highly a shufti at them and this brief 20 minute discussion.
The living world has been built on cooperation AND competition. And, while acknowledging that humans seem to have been in a state of uninterrupted conflict since human time began, they have also been in a state of cooperation. The scope of that cooperation exceeds that of conflict – both from a cellular level to the supra-organism state of civilisations.
The pride with which conservatives revere both the individual and competition does not belie their lack of understanding of cooperation. It is this lack that will have to be reversed in order for us to come to terms with the change in climate and the finite nature of the planet. If you haven’t heard this 20 minute discussion with John Lanchester, he evokes a situation where capitalism cooperated with us within the western system until communism collapsed and then, well now it has gone cancerous. So cancerous that it consumes even our, as yet, unearned wealth. And that of our children, too.