School of Sociology and Social Policy

The Bauman Institute

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How outdated political institutions help world society elites

„Termite or beaver?“, asked his bad tempered girl-friend the scientist, „what would you more like to resemble?“ Both species, she stated, did live on wood. Manipulating wood they sculpture their environ­ment, thus improving both the defense of their group members and the breeding conditions for their offspring. „They are just like you: you are surrounded by manipulated wood covered with imprint­ing color, thus improving the living conditions of your group members and your personal off­spring.“ But you can and can’t be dispensed to chose: Or the beaver-option in small groups or the termite-option in large powerful states, being a threat for all competitors including yourself due to unsustainable consumption and technometabolism.1 It’s about space. You can’t, this is my view, „re­think global society“ without considering the questions and claims of space. In this contribution I will in three steps ask 1. why and what for elites use outdated institutions, 2. how they do it, and 3. whether and how they could and can be stopped.

1 Technometabolism, “The materials and energy which flow into, through, and out of a human population and which are due to technological processes.” Stephen V. Boyden, Biohistory. The Interplay between Human Society and the Biosphere, Man and the Biosphere Series, Paris: UNESCO/ Parthenon 1992, p. 257.

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