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BIOLOGY OF THE SUPERRICH: How are billionaires different from clownfish?

BIOLOGY OF THE SUPERRICH: How are billionaires different from clownfish?
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Economic inequality is a problem that has accompanied humanity throughout history. We know that it underlies the functioning of the institution of private property. This is the main driving mechanism of capitalism – the social formation in which you and I live.

However, the Club of Rome report defines social and material inequality as a global threat. So what is the right way to deal with inequality?




In January 2017, Oxfam think tank published a report, An Economy For The 99 Percent. It said that only 8 people in the world have a fortune equal to that which is at the disposal of 3.5 billion people.

Oxfam experts argue that the process of concentration of material resources in the same hands is growing every year and will continue further. Until recently, in 2015, half of the world’s wealth belonged to 62, and in 2010 – 388 rich people. The first trillionaire will appear on the planet within the next 25 years. Over-concentration of wealth occurs against the background of the fact that every tenth person lives on less than $ 2 a day.




At the same time, the rich, as you can see, “also cry”. They, as well as the representatives of the middle class, are becoming less and less, since their wealth is also redistributed in favor of the super-rich. The notorious 1% of people who receive the maximum income is equal to the population of France, that is, approximately 70 million people.

However, the famous researcher of global inequality Branko Milanovic noted that even among this 1%, there is a colossal inequality. The lion’s share of income is only 0.1%, those who entered the aforementioned 1%. And the wealth of this very narrow group of ultra-wealthy individuals continues to grow at an astonishingly fast pace. How to relate to these processes? After all, no one has canceled the age-old dream of social justice!




We know that the 70-year Soviet experiment that abolished private ownership of the means of production ended in failure. Could it have ended differently? Judging by data recently published in the Behavioral Ecology magazine, definitely not. It appears that a team of scientists at Mills College and the University of California, Los Angeles have discovered deep evolutionary roots of inequality in humans.

It turned out that private property and the inequality it generates are not at all an exclusive feature of Homo sapiens. A variety of animals, birds and even fish, as well as humans, pass on from parent to child the benefits associated with belonging to the dominant group. At the same time, access to the widest range of resources is inherited – land, food, housing, knowledge …




Here are just a few examples given by scientists. For example, some clown fish inherit the “right” to hide and breed among the largest, and therefore the safest, sea anemones. Spotted hyenas inherit a high position in the hierarchy. And along with social rank, of course, and priority access to food. Blackcocks pass their protected territories to their children. Those wasps that their mothers left behind a nest gain breeding benefits. Some species of monkeys inherit from their parents stone tools for cracking nuts and knowledge of how to use them.




As a result of these processes, inequalities arise that not only persist over generations, but also worsen. Because the descendants of “unprivileged” individuals eat worse, their lives are more often threatened. As a result, they leave fewer offspring, and sometimes even die out. But a holy place is never empty – successful “privileged” groups appropriate their resources and territories, further increasing their numbers. Does it mean that private property, inequality and evolution are closely related?

It is not easy to overcome these laws. Only the desire, even the strongest one, to make the world equal and socially just is clearly not enough. And if the growth of social inequality is really a threat to humanity, then in order to eliminate this threat, the best minds of humanity will have to try hard to overcome this unsolvable task set by nature itself for millennia.

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