Academic Papers

Power Structures in the World of Nations and Capitalism

Whenever we discuss what is natural to humanity, it is difficult to put ourselves in a theoretical scenario of a natural world when we exist in a world that is seemingly so far from away from ‘natural’. 

Questions arise on what is natural for us. At what point do we, as homo sapiens, become detached from our creations, physical or otherwise? Does our ‘nature’ extend past our physical bodies to the environment around us or the products of our minds? A weapon made for hunting seems natural enough, a basket to hold items feels pretty normal, and clothes made to protect us from the elements feel essential. So, what about a phone that can perform so many functions and help us instantly communicate with people worldwide? In reality, they aren’t so separate from the basic tools mentioned before. They are more complex and require more materials, expertise, and machinery, but they are still a creation of our environment and minds. What about a credit card that allows us to purchase goods with an even further extension of our imagination- credit, is this still ‘natural’? Are religious beliefs natural? So then, what about a belief in our communities, or more specifically, the community of a nation? Are these communities in their tens of millions and even billions really equate to the community? They certainly don’t feel particularly natural at this point. Perhaps, you may feel that all these things I have mentioned are natural and that the discussion ends there. If so, I would like to go on further.

For me, anthropological studies are key to understanding who we are and what tools we use to navigate the modern world. Throughout my life, I have liked to refer to Steve Peters’ book ‘The Chimp Paradox’, which describes everyone as split into two personalities. One half is our rational thinking, the human side- this is the part of you that is most you. The second half is the chimp side- your chimp brain, which acts on reaction-based emotions, is impulsive, irrational and primal. However, whether we like it or not, both parts complete who you are and work together at all times, either in unison or not. Our chimp brain acts as the foundation for our bodily systems; it tells us how we feel and reacts to our environment. Our human brain is then built on top of these foundations; we can learn to control the chimp, talk to it and soothe it, but we can never be rid of it. So, understanding it is essential for our own personal health, but also for the health of our communities.  

This has led me to question the environment and social structures that we are in. For example, how natural is it for one to be stressed over a date in the calendar that marks the time a monetary figure moves out from your bank account to another? How natural is it for one to worry about their 5-year or 10-year plan or if they will have enough invested in a retirement fund so they don’t have to work until your 80 years old? (Which also leads me to wonder, where are my retirement funds? How safe are they really?) Our stresses are complex and elusive, yet we are products of a natural and primal world. And drawing the lines between natural and unnatural has become increasingly difficult as we have moved into an increasingly complex and fast-moving world. Through my dissertation, I hope to bring studies of human nature from our nomadic roots, as well as question the structures of society that surround us to challenge the points of tension that arise from the rigid and static systems that we find ourselves in and are told to either accept as ‘normal’, or ‘what we have’. 

Jake Beasley 

  1. Lienus

    Hi Jake,

    I just read your post. And thought Foster John Bellamy, Jason Moore and Marx could be interesting for your research. Bellamy and Moore explore and try to explain the relationship between human and nature by exploring Marx thoughts on Political Ecology and the metabolic rift.

    1. Jake

      Hi Lienus,
      Sorry for the late reply, I have just seen this. However thanks so much for your recommendations on further sources to check out. I have made a note of these and will look into them. Appreciate the comment.


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