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Law of the jungle

[ 2009-05-08 12:21]     字号 [] [] []  
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Law of the jungleReader question: In this sentence – In that particular industry everyone has to look after themselves because the law of the jungle rules – please explain “jungle rules”?

My comments:

The phrase in question is “the law of the jungle” – “the law of the jungle” rules.

The jungle refers to the wilderness, the rain forests of the Amazon for instance, the natural world at large as against human society, where there are laws and regulations.

There are no such laws and regulations in the natural world. There, anything goes. Or in Darwinian terms, the big and strong prevail against the small and weak. In Charles Darwin’s own words, it’s about “survival of the fittest”.

Law of the jungle

Only the strong survive. And that’s the “law of the jungle” – the strong take the small and the meek for lunch without having to worry about, er, lawyers.

Lawyers are what we have in human society, where there is what is called “law and order”, by which each and every individual supposedly conducts themselves according to a clearly defined set of rules – dos and don’ts.

I said supposedly because that’s not exactly what happens in actual reality. We humans have a way of getting around rules we set for ourselves, you know. Top officials in governments here and elsewhere are often above the law – breaking the law without getting brought to book. The rich pay their lawyers to twist laws in their favor. And Mafia groups, of course, choose to work the other side of law altogether.

And who can blame them? Otherwise the human life would’ve been no fun at all.

In fact, truth be told and hand on heart, only some people - the small and the weak - are subject to the so-called “law and order”.

Which is not far off from the situation in the wider wilderness, isn’t it? And this situation – the fact that the law of the jungle also rules in human society – is explained very well by Social Darwinism, a theory that is often used as an excuse to explain why the poor and underprivileged people deserve their sorry positions.

Anyways, in the example above, it means to say that in an industry that is not yet fully developed, businesses have to fend for themselves because if they fail, there will be no regulation commissions, for example, to even hear their grievances.

In other words, kill or get killed.



About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.


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