The silos separating our species


The earth does not rotate by cause of limitation. The resource shortages that plague people around the world arise not from an absence of abundance, but the presence of disparity, writes Gabriella Morris.

The 62 people that own half of the world’s wealth facilitate not only social inequality but a rapacious attitude towards nature. Beneath a blanket of multinational control of resources, society is not only at odds with the environment, but fractured from within.

The scope of this issue proceeds with an air of opacity, as Nestle does not only monopolise the confectionary market, but owns 70% of the world’s Olive Oil production. Despite there being no organising feature in the external order of things, that determines this an inevitable reality, such divisions persist. Why? They reside in our social capacity for distinction, our ability to instil silos. 

 Why do we live in silos?

Silos are the containers of social difference. They create an ideal of difference. In the Anthropologist, Gillian Tett’s recent book, The Silo Effect, she notes that the capitalist economy has become inefficient because of such divisions. The artificial separations between people in the form of titles and roles, not only create distance between people in a work setting, but extend to other areas of social life. Reared by neoliberalism, the people who have profiteered and lost capital and dreams in this cycle of inefficiency, should be the first to know the system calls for rejuvenation. As society and economy operate in isolation from the environment, the reconciliation of these two entities become more urgent. Disparities are housed within silos, and it is the artificial imposition of these boundaries, that seem incomplete, the internal evolution of our species. Let us then look, to societies that live without hierarchy, for examples of how such obstructions to sustainable living can be overcome. 

What we can learn from indigenous cultures. 

Egalitarian cultures, do not only harbour equilibrium between people, but between man and his environment. Colombia’s Kogi tribe, provide us with an objective view of the beliefs that afflict us, stating, “you give precedent to the use of the thing, rather than its source”.  As we become absorbed within the ideology of functionality, the landscape of provenance features only as a minute point. The Kogi live with a vitality in their connection to each other, to their social and natural environment. It is the actions of these societies, which retain a harmonious relationship with their environment that can remove the veil that our meagre distinctions have reaped over our eyes.  But these silos can provide us with hope. That, various aspects that shape our social selves, and that of the environment, as intrinsically linked to one another.

Through delineating the boundaries of our silos, the environment becomes not a disparate entity that we seek to control, but a junction, at which a plethora of social, environmental and moral issues meet. Addressing disparity and inequality, unshackling our subservience to corporate entities such as Nestle and Kraft, does not only address issues of fairness of trade, but also a more equal distribution of resources. There is a natural aspect of us, and our ecosystem is a source of sociality, interlinked not only to our functional use of it, but our scientific endeavours, our philosophical curiosities. 

 The Author is a researcher and Anthropologist at Captioning Culture