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Does competition for resources cause oppression?





ocalhoun
In my continuing reading, I come across an interesting fact:
Quote:
horses only display a strict dominance hierarchy when there is competition for resources

ie, when resources are plentiful and the individuals in a herd don't need to compete for them, it becomes nearly impossible to figure out which horse is the leader of which...
One horse might lead the herd out to eat, while a different one might lead the herd back to shelter.

but when in a captive situation where a group of horses are competing for a limited resource (like a single pile of hay or a single water trough) you'll easily see a strict dominance hierarchy. Horse B must wait for horse A to finish before eating, horse C must wait for both A and B to finish, horse D must wait for A, B, and C to finish... et cetera... with a clearly defined (and rarely changing) pecking order.
In this case, the same horse (horse A) will always be the one leading the herd, no matter where they're going.


...and this made me wonder... Might that be the same in humans?
Would all of our political/governmental controls, all of our employer/employee hierarchies, all of our superior/subordinate hierarchies not exist if not for competition for resources?
If everything a human could want was plentiful and there for the taking, would that by default tend to result in an idealistic anarchist system?
deanhills
I'd have thought that procreation of the species would be a good reason for the need to dominate. Both among females and males. I'm surprised that that is not the case with horses. Sort of the survival of the species and ensuring that the stallion gets the best mare and the other way round. So stallions would fight among one another which would result in one domineering the others.

The book by Richard Dawkins on the Selfish Gene comes to mind.
microkosm
The cynic and materialist in me says that competition for resources drives everything that human beings do. I like to believe this is not the case and I'm sure most people would agree with me in this regard, but sometimes I wonder if we are simply indulging our sense of morality and righteousness by saying "Oh no, I'm not some animal in a Darwinian case study." Really, what is contemporary life but this exactly: school, college, business, politics, international relations, etc?

I know I'm being extremely pessimistic here Confused Competition for resources is not inherently bad, it's just a phenomenon. My observation is that humans tend to become too attached to everything we like, as we do with all possessions and then the doom and gloom starts.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
I'd have thought that procreation of the species would be a good reason for the need to dominate. Both among females and males. I'm surprised that that is not the case with horses. Sort of the survival of the species and ensuring that the stallion gets the best mare and the other way round. So stallions would fight among one another which would result in one domineering the others.

It is. Mates are a limited resource, in most cases, and it is a reason to establish a system of dominance. But, it's not a hierarchy that needs to be maintained when mating is not a factor; as such, that system of dominance can disappear for the rest of the year. We see this sort of system in many social species; during the mating season, a dominance structure is developed, when mating (and in some cases rearing) is complete, that structure can dissolve.

In many ways, I agree with microkosm's assessment. From the courses I've taken in anthropology/sociology, philosophy, and various ecology and animal behaviour topics, competition is an important driving factor in social interaction. Even in situations of cooperation, competition and self-interest rear their heads; apparently altruistic behaviour has selfish benefit, or, some sort of kin-selective root (which itself has selfish benefit).

I'm not certain that with plentiful resources that we would become an idealistic society... though, perhaps the disparity between those in power and those subordinate would likely reduce (perhaps significantly). Even in systems of readily available resources, we seem to (realistically) expect those resources to run out...
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
deanhills wrote:
I'd have thought that procreation of the species would be a good reason for the need to dominate. Both among females and males. I'm surprised that that is not the case with horses. Sort of the survival of the species and ensuring that the stallion gets the best mare and the other way round. So stallions would fight among one another which would result in one domineering the others.

It is. Mates are a limited resource, in most cases, and it is a reason to establish a system of dominance. But, it's not a hierarchy that needs to be maintained when mating is not a factor; as such, that system of dominance can disappear for the rest of the year. We see this sort of system in many social species; during the mating season, a dominance structure is developed, when mating (and in some cases rearing) is complete, that structure can dissolve.
Well said. And makes sense for the cats in my compound too. They compete for food and dominance of garbage disposal units outside, and when there is mating, there is a system of dominance in place as well.
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