Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Buying Elections, and Human Ecology

I want to keep trying to be clear how my thinking would include politics and economics in a comprehensive science of Global Human Ecology, especially in these first posts on this blog. The point is not easily grasped because traditional academics has divided the pursuit of knowledge into boxes, as it were. Universities set up professional turfs such as ecology, economics, anthropology, political science, and so on where experts are hired and trained because they function well within the turf boundaries and in fact help to defend these boundaries and their specialized perspectives. Here in the article mentioned next is an example of important dynamic links in the modern world system that are not part of our traditional ways of thinking about ecology and in turn about human ecology let alone GHE even though obviously each discipline has something to contribute and will ofter insights now and then into the big picture. 

The article is in today's New York Times. September 20, 2010. Donors’ Names Kept Secret as They Influence the Midterms. By MICHAEL LUO and STEPHANIE STROM. Link includes comments; you will perhaps have to sign in. And yes, of course candidates that are Democrats can also be beholden to Big Money in this system, as well as Republicans. The article could have fleshed that out a bit. And nevertheless ....

Basically, a lot of Big Money is being spent to influence the upcoming US elections and the public has no way of knowing who is bankrolling the organizational and media campaigns that are vigorously promoting mostly Republican candidates with pro-big-business agendas. This is hardly a surprise and the situation was expected to get worse and worse after recent rulings of the largely Republican appointed Supreme Court. It is not a secret that there is a good correlation between campaign spending and electoral victories. In fact it is the scandal of our nation that our democratic system has proved to be so fragile.  But what does this have to do with GHE? 

How does this article make me think in terms of GHE dynamics? The making and administration of laws certainly influence how people behave and form their habits of thinking and acting. Laws and the administration of laws can affect how corporations behave in many ways, including uses of natural and human resources, pollution, promotion of military exploits to advance and protect trade interests, and on and on. Thus laws and their administration help shape how Homo sapiens interacts with its social and total global environments. A comprehensive science of GHE would strive to understand how laws are made and enforced and the electoral process that helps determine laws and their administration and thus it is important how money is used to influence elections. 

Political power should not be a black box, or left to fragmented disciplines each with its own turf interests and perspectives, in thinking about human ecology. We should be asking, what is it about the movements of Big Money and indeed about human nature that cause and allow the dynamics of Big Money flow mentioned in the article below to be important? How conscious is the general population about how media campaigns and the organization of so-called "grass roots" movements influence their thinking and behavior. What is it about human nature that can be so reliably exploited in this regard?

Traditional disciplinary training and turf-defending put knowledge in boxes such that attention to the dynamics of campaign contributions would not be thought of as part of human "ecology" in ordinary academic terms. This in itself involves human psychology and institutional behavior that makes it difficult if not impossible to develop a very much needed comprehensive science of Global Human Ecology within the traditional academic framework. This is to say that the study of academic communities of experts should be an important area of study within GHE. Our communities of experts do not even have a clear idealized conception of what GHE needs to be, and why is that and what does it matter? 

(I really do need to get some of my book manuscripts polished and published!!)


  1. How refreshing it is to read, what someone has written that parallels my own thinking.

    chas in AZ

  2. Welcome to my reading agenda! My daughter got a BA in Human Ecology! I never could figure out exactly what it was, but she went on to become a police person and left because of corruption; then a nurse.

    And I agree with your comprehensive thoughts on the disaster of our political process being co-opted by the corporations who indeed RULE! Why do we let this happen? Many theories; I think there is a strain of humanity that lacks empathy and compassion and the gene for sharing--sociopaths or psychopaths. They have no compunctions about taking and raking over the less greedy and less focused and less intelligent. They obviously form their own "tribes" and take, take, take...! OK...this is simplistic, but I don't think the "normal" human is like that. We surely are caring and sharing, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten this far on the evolutionary ladder. Then again, maybe this is as far as we will go. Interesting.

  3. The blog looks like it could shape up to be on my "regulars" list. I was linked over here from a comment on the ScienceBlogs site.

    Lot of stuff to chew on here in the first post. I think you are going to have to narrow it down to be able to go in depth on different aspects in a particular post.

    However, the wholistic thinking is crucial and must form the basis of GHE. (I don't mean wholistic in the New Age sense, but rather in the scientific sense of not being in denial about the interrelatedness of what at first glance seem like separate disciplines).

    So you've got my interest. I would like to hear further your thoughts on the dynamics of big money politics. One aspect is the secrecy among the financiers. Why is it so important to them that the identities of the funders remain secret? Is it because they believe they are doing something immoral or evil? Is that why?

    Also, why do humans fail to make the connection between working for the common good and uplifting themselves? "Doing good" has become synonymous with going broke, giving up one's self, becoming a target for violence, and all kinds of negative stigma. The very term 'do-gooder' is a derogatory smear. How did things get that way?

    It would be interesting to hear a GHE perspective on these kinds of issues.