From the age of 13 to 28, for one reason or
another, I found myself permanently enmeshed in the study of Biology. It was
always somehow relevant to my prospective career or to my education.
And one of my first outbreaks of real genius -
that surely put me on a par with Darwin - was when it dawned on me after only 15
years of study that just about all living things were made up of cells.
Yes. It's true!
Cells, cells, cells.
Whether you are a poisonous snake, a slimy
fungus, a miserable worm, or an emotionally-deficient feminist, you will be made
up of cells.
Life, it seems, no matter how ugly, consists
In the very beginning, life consisted of
organisms that were made up of single cells. And some of these little
single-celled beings like the amoeba and the paramecium lived most happily in
the waters; wandering about, hither and thither, eating, excreting, sensing and
And then, thanks to natural selection - or to
God, some say - some cells started co-operating with each other by sticking together.
By doing this, they lost some of their
individuality, but the price was worth it, because they lived longer! - more or
And as time passed, and the various organisms
competed with each other, and struggled to survive in the face of various
environmental adversities, the organisms grew more and more complex, and they
ended up being composed of millions upon millions of cells, all stuck together
in various ways, so that, eventually, these multi-cellular organisms grew into
extremely complex structures.
Well, this is exactly how businesses, and
corporations, and governments grow.
their 'cells' are the individual people who work for them.
And their 'cells' are the individual people
who work for them.
And, just like individual cells, these
individual people have stuck together, and have given up their individuality, in
order for their collective enterprises (be it a business, a corporation or a
government) to live longer! - more or less.
And as time passed, and the various
enterprises competed with each other, and struggled to survive in the face of
various environmental adversities, the enterprises grew more and more complex,
and they ended up being composed of thousands upon thousands of people, all
stuck together in various ways, so that, eventually, these multi-peopled
enterprises grew into extremely complex structures - corporations, industries,
businesses, and governments.
And it is this parallel between multi-cellular
biological organisms and multi-peopled enterprises that I wish to address.
In the same way that cells give up their
individuality - and their individual freedoms - for the sake of the grand
multi-cellular organism of which they are a part, so it is that people give up
their individuality - and their individual freedoms - for the sake of the grand
multi-peopled enterprises of which they are a part.
And in much the same way that in complex
biological organisms cells differentiate themselves in order to generate various tissues
and organs, so it is that within complex enterprises individual groups of people
differentiate themselves in order to generate various departments and sections.
Well, I am not going to bore my readers by
going into great details concerning how it is that complex enterprises mirror so
deeply the biology of complex organisms, but it really is quite amazing how
similar the two appear to be!
Nevertheless, there are some points concerning
their similarities which are definitely worth examining when it comes to
thinking about political issues.
1. The individual cells that make up my own succulent body
have no idea what I, myself, am up to.
Not. A. Clue.
If you asked one of my liver cells what I had for dinner a few minutes ago, it would have absolutely no idea at all.
Indeed, even if you questioned one of my brain cells about
my current thoughts, it would not have a clue.
The individual cells that make up me have no idea at all
about what I am doing
The individual cells that make up me have no
idea at all about what I am doing, about what I am thinking, about what I am wanting to do,
about where I am going, or even about what I am.
They are completely clueless!
In fact, they are so clueless, that they are a
zillion miles away from understanding anything about me at all.
They simply do not have the capacity.
And the thing is this.
The same pretty much applies to the individual
people who, together, make up a large enterprise.
They have no real idea what that enterprise is
doing. They might think that they have a good idea, but
Well. OK. OK. Most large enterprises are not
made up of billions of people, whereas I, of course, am made
up of billions of cells.
But, you get the picture.
The larger the enterprise, and the more
complex it becomes, the less do the individual people within it know anything
And yet it has a 'life', and it struggles to
compete with other enterprises, and to survive - which often entails a
propensity to grow!
2. Just about all of my cells are being
replaced as they wear out, age and die.
My body has a system whereby it can replace
these cells with pretty good alternatives.
And some cells are really quite dispensable.
For example, if I am non-fatally wounded, the
chances are that other cells will do the right thing to create replacement new
cells. And if for certain purposes I happily secrete and lose cells through my various orifices,
my body will simply create more of them to replenish the
You see. Provided that I do not lose too
many cells, and so I retain my strength, I can always replace them.
The individual cells themselves are, more or
Well, the same is true of enterprises.
The people who comprise them will eventually wear out, age
The people who comprise them will eventually
wear out, age and die, but they have systems whereby they can replace these
people with pretty good alternatives.
Further, these enterprises - these 'organisms'
- are somewhat more adept at replacing cells and structures that are lost to
them than is my body.
For example, if I lose even a toe, it is
gone forever. But for an enterprise, the equivalent of
replacing a humble toe is a piece of cake.
Indeed, and for example, you could even shoot the president and all his
cronies and yet still the enterprise of 'government' would survive.
An enterprise is far more robust, in many
ways, than I am.
3. By and large, on the whole, and in the
main, my body tends to operate on matters external to me on the basis of
activity within my brain. It is the cells of my brain that govern how my
body deals with the environment outside of it.
Furthermore, these brain cells are not
particularly concerned about those situations that occur within my body - my internal environment. Such situations are mostly dealt with by systems and
procedures that function fairly automatically and independently of my brain
cells - more or less.
The only time that my brain cells really
have much concern for the other cells of my body is when I have to operate on
the external environment in a manner which ensures that they benefit in some
For example, my brain cells might order me to exercise in
the gym to develop further the beauty of my body over the long term, they might
order me to eat or drink, and they might order me to raise my arm to defend
But, in summary, my brain cells simply
govern the way in which the totality of my body will engage with the
environment that is external to it, and they will do so in order to advance my current and future state of well-being.
In enterprises, it is, perhaps, the board of
directors, the cabinet ministers, the generals or the congressmen who are,
effectively, the cells of the brains that control
the overall direction of their own 'organisms', whatever they
might happen to be - e.g. the business, the army, the government.
And, rather like brain cells, these
higher-ranking people go about their businesses and - both wittingly and
otherwise - they conspire collectively to serve the organisms of
which they are a part - e.g. the business, the army, the government.
These cells are not conscious of the super being's
In summary, a complex biological organism is
made up of millions or of billions of cells. These little cells stick together in such a
manner that they sacrifice their individuality to create a whole new organism that 'has a
life of its own'. This super-being struts around interacting with the
environment in order to feather its own nest, to compete successfully with
others, and to survive. Furthermore, this super-being is completely
unintelligible to the cells of which it is comprised. These cells are not
conscious of the super being's directions, its motivations, its inclinations, or
even of its existence. They are completely blind to it.
And enterprises are a bit like this.
And, the bigger that they get, the more like
this they become.
They take on a 'life of their own' that is
increasingly unintelligible to the people who stick together to make them up.
The cashier who works in the Texaco petrol
station down the road has no idea at all who are the shareholders of the oil
company that he serves, no idea who the bosses are, no idea where the company is heading,
no clue as to where it is currently
drilling, and so on, and so on.
Furthermore, the shareholders, the bosses and
the oil-drillers etc have no real idea about him!
Complex biological organisms and complex
enterprises are both made up of relatively simple components that come together
to create something that is vastly different from themselves, that is very
superior when compared to themselves, that is extremely alienated from
themselves and that is, in fact, very much independent of themselves.
And, further, the simple components (cells or
people) do not even realise that the organisms of which they are a part actually
In other words, you (as a
person) cannot actually appreciate the huge organisms that float around the
place even though you might well be a part of them.
Yes. Yes. Very good Angry Harry. Yawn. Can I
go to bed now? You are boring me. What is the point of all this?
Well, the point is this.
If you view a corporation, a government, and
even an ideology, as an 'organism' - an organism that really
and truly 'has a life of its own', and that wants to survive and to grow
in the face of competition - then you
are better equipped to understand the nature of the political beast - feminism,
perhaps - that you might be trying to slay.
And if I find myself in the appropriate
mood over the next few days, I might, in my next blog, deign to explain how
this is so.
On the other hand, of course, I might not!