Principle of Competitive Exclusion

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Bobby Azarian:

"The Principle of Competitive Exclusion is a well-established concept in ecology which says that two distinct species occupying the same niche and competing for the same resources cannot stably coexist. The ongoing conflict will eventually lead to one group’s extinction or removal from the niche. This principle is an expression of the harsh reality of natural selection, and if the agents involved in such a conflict don’t have the ability to understand this dynamic, they will not be able to avoid falling into it.

The Principle of Competitive Exclusion can also be applied to hominids, the family of primates that includes modern humans, our ancestors, and other species such as Neanderthals. Evidence from paleoanthropology suggests that this dynamic played a significant role in our own evolutionary history; the competition for niches is believed to have been a contributing factor to the extinction of other hominid species as Homo sapiens became more dominant.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict serves as a contemporary reflection of the Competitive Exclusion Principle, with two groups competing for resources and self-determination in a shared geographical space. The main difference between this example and the ones given in ecology is that the two groups are members of the same species. So why are these agents at war when they could be integrating into a diverse yet harmonious whole?

In his 2002 book The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex, complexity theorist Harold Morowitz explained the reason for the conflict:

- “In spite of the close biological affinity of all humans — according to mitochondrial DNA studies we all have a common ancestor within the last 200,000 years — humans constantly erect cultural barriers to interbreeding, where no biological barriers exist…In a number of contemporary societies two or more groups live in the same country and exist in almost complete reproductive isolation because of religion, race, language, ideology, or other nonbiological barriers. As a result an analog to sympatric species is artificially produced. We designate these noninterbreeding groups as pseudospecies.”

The concept of pseudospecies — socially and culturally defined groups that act as though separated by biological differences — allows us to understand the Principle of Competitive Exclusion within the human domain. When two groups of humans possess different worldviews, and those worldviews create a clear distinction between in-group and out-group members, those groups become akin to two distinct organisms locked in a competitive struggle."



A Unifying Worldview: Human Civilization as a ‘Superorganism’

Bobby Azarian:

"To move forward as a single species, the relevant science suggests that we must consciously embrace a new universal worldview. This worldview, inspired by evolutionary theory and an approach to problem solving called “systems thinking,” would recognize the interconnectedness of all human beings, not merely as a moral ideal, but as a practical reality. It would be rooted in the understanding that we are all part of an emerging global superorganism, an integrated network of lives and destinies that are inextricably linked.

We know that our civilization is now an interdependent system because if there is a crisis in one crucial region then the whole global network suffers. We saw how a local problem can quickly wreak global havoc with the 2008 financial collapse, and in a more extreme form with the 2020 pandemic. This tells us that coming together to create a new level of global coordination despite our ideological differences is not a luxury, but a necessity. Our common existential challenges will require the full computational power of the “global brain” that is human civilization. That means we must cooperate and collaborate to prevent WWIII, weaponized A.I., the spread of authoritarianism, income inequality, pandemics, and climate change. These are things that threaten the entire human race, and in that way, they bind us together.

When we adopt this universal perspective, which is at once scientific and spiritual (in the sense that it unifies us under a larger purpose), we begin to see how the wellbeing of one is tied to the wellbeing of all. Envisioning humanity as a global superorganism allows for a reimagining of individual and collective identity. The suffering of any one part is a wound to the collective whole. The deaths of civilians in conflict zones becomes not just a local tragedy but a global one, necessitating a response from the collective human superorganism.

In this light, the Principle of Competitive Exclusion is transformed from a rule of conflict to a challenge of integration. It urges us to find ways to coexist not by eliminating the other but by expanding our sense of self to include the other. This is the essence of the superorganism worldview — one that sees not a battleground of competing tribes but a tapestry of human endeavor, rich with the potential for synthesis and harmony while preserving its unique variety of cultures and customs. It calls for a new kind of global cooperation, one that transcends tribalistic divisions and unites us in the common pursuit of a world that is sustainable, just, and flourishing.

Under the cosmic perspective illuminated by the paradigm of emergence from which the superorganism perspective was born, there is no “us versus them,” there is only “we.” Rather than seeing the world as a disconnected and random collection of events, we can view it as an interconnected and purposeful whole, with each part contributing to the overall evolution and development of greater cosmic complexity, integration, and awareness. The three major religions, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, should be reinterpreted through this lens, and doing so will reveal their universal truths and shared ethical principles.

While the articulation of a unifying worldview is the first step, it is only through actionable solutions that such a vision can materialize."