Left vs Right by way of a “Lion” analogy

Most political systems seek to work for the betterment of society. Most include a claim to a goal of protecting the weak.

As an analogy let’s consider how different political ideologies would handle the case of an endangered wild species like “a lion”. These wild animals are “the weak” in the sense that they are completely subject to the whim of man. They are unable to defend themselves in a world dominated by humans. Hence, they are weak, and as benevolent stewards of the world it is our noble responsibility to protect the individuals of this beautiful species. The question which the various ideologies differ on is “how”?

The communist would decide that in order to protect the lion is to provide for its every need. To guard against starvation, he will provide food for the lion served in a dish. To guard against the ravages of nature, he will provide shelter for the lion. No more will the lion want for food or fear the cold rain. Their every need will be provided for. And in order to protect the lion from his inability to know what’s best for him, he will enclose the shelter in a cage. That way the lion will be protected completely from enemies, nature, and himself.

For simplicity’s sake we’ll just say that the communist solution for protecting the lion is to place him in a zoo.

On the other end of the political spectrum we have the laissez faire capitalists. They are also concerned with protecting the lion, but they sneer at the communist solution, seeing that, while preserving the lion’s existence, it would strip the lion of everything it means to be a lion. Lion’s are hunters, and by God, they should be allowed to hunt for their food and provide their own shelter. In the capitalist’s mind, the best way to help the lion is to not help the lion. A lion who fends for himself and decides his own future will be a stronger, more successful lion – and will produce stronger, and more successful offspring.

A slight complication comes into play when lions get too strong and numerous. A weak, lone lion, when faced with human development in his back yard, will have no choice but to retreat to other uninhabited areas. A pride of strong, and successful lions, however may pose problems to their benevolent capitalist dictators, however, if they refuse to move – but rather use their instinctive predatory skills developed through the generations to defend their homes. When it comes to this, the capitalist must work swiftly to ensure the safety and security of the society as a whole. It becomes an imperative to constrain the lions. Relocation to a different area works only for a while, but these persistent lions keep on finding their way back to the contested territories.

The benevolent capitalist knows that the lion who stays near a human settlement is a danger to the people – and will ultimately end up being shot. So he enacts policies to protect both the lion and the people. Any lion found near a settlement will be tranquilized, tagged, and sent to a safe place where they can no longer trouble humans.

This policy works for a while, but as settlements grow, encounters with lions become more frequent – and even inevitable. In order to avert any future confrontations with lions, the only logical solution is to seek out all lions – even the ones residing far from the human settlements – and relocate them also into captivity. This preemptive doctrine makes sense to the prominent thinkers of society as it seems to address all of the security needs of society. But it creates a logistical problem since there aren’t enough cages built to house all of the lions. What’s more, it turns out that they don’t have the resources to feed all of the lions once captured.

In the face of a potential massacre, some of the leaders go to the people and request a small tax increase in order to pay for the care and handling of the lions. The request makes some headway until it is pointed out that taking care of all of the lions in zoos is exactly what the communists and socialists do with their lions. The mere thought of sharing any characteristics with a communist regime is too much for this right-wing society to handle so the proposal is rejected.

But the problem still remains: what to do with all of these lions. They don’t have the resources to cage them, and since the mandate of this society fancies itself as a defender of the weak, a massacre is out of the question. So they decide to relocate all of the lions into a desolate island in the north. Due to the climate and a previous nuclear disaster, this island is undesirable to the humans of society. This coupled with the fact that lions can’t swim would ensure that lions would pose no more threat to humans.

This solution has the virtue of following good, old-fashioned conservative principles. The future of the lions is left in their own hands. The strong will survive and the weak will abide by the blessed laws of natural selection and cease to survive of their own free will. Society is able to move on in peace and security.

However, when it is reported 10 years later that the population of lions has dwindled to endangered levels due to lack of food supply, inhospitable conditions, and disease caused by the contaminated terrain, society decides to act fast to try to preserve the species. So they send an expedition to the island of Elba to collect a sampling of lions and transport them to a safe place, known as a zoo. There their needs are met for the purpose of preserving their existence for future generations to enjoy.

So, for simplicity’s sake we’ll just say that the capitalist solution for protecting the lion is to place him in a zoo.

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