Polygamy Now
The unfolding story of polygamy in the United States

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Peacekeeping Rule

You can find the peacekeeping rule at work in every ecological, social, political, and economic system. It goes something like this --

It's ok to compete to the best of your abilities, but it's not ok to deliberately destroy the competition.

Who enforces the peacekeeping rule? It enforces itself, and powerfully so!

Let's take an example from Daniel Quinn's excellent book Ishmael (not to be confused with the Star Trek episode by the same name).

Suppose you have a savannah ruled by lions. Normally these lions eat antelope and an occasional zebra. Hyena inhabit the savannah, and they eat antelope, too.

One day the lions decide to get together and systematically wipe out the hyena and all other animals that eat antelope. Fewer competitors, more antelope for the lions.

But why stop there? Zebra compete with antelope for the grass they eat. Wipe out the zebra and there will be more antelope for the lions. And grass competes with bushes. Destroy the bushes, and there will be more grass, and more antelope for the lions.

Eventually you wind up with an ecosystem with just one animal/plant in each niche. Such ecosystems are very brittle. I can't give you a real example, because any ecosystem that violates the peacekeeping rule destroys itself. A blight on the grass means no antelope, and no more lions.

In the business world, an example of such an aberrant system is a monopoly. Monopolies are brittle, unresponsive to consumer demand, and unmotivated to improve. Remember Microsoft going to court about whether it required new computer manufacturers to buy an operating system preconfigured to support Microsoft products? It's ok for Microsoft to put out the best operating system it possibly can, but the question was did Microsoft attempt to destroy competition with unfair practices (in violation of the peacekeeping rule)?

Almost anytime you find a group of people passing laws that tell another group of people how to live, you find a violation of the peacekeeping rule. Early Americans, afraid that they couldn't compete with the economic and political advantages of polygamous communities, tried to utterly eradicate them by law. This strategy cannot possibly succeed in the long run, and polygamy will eventually be sanctioned -- count on it!


Blogger Mary Batchelor said...

I really appreciate this post, Martin. I absolutely believe it, too. It's a code I try to live by.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Thank you, Mary. Nice to hear from you again.

12:53 AM  
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