A frequently used example for mutualism is the aphid/ant pairing, whereby ants protect aphids, which in turn are “milked” for their sweet… Juice? Milk? Ooze? (Excrement, actually.) Another symbiotic relationship are leafcutter ants ‘farming’ a fungus that feeds off their leaves, which are toxic to the ants when ‘raw.’
By definition mutualism/symbiosis benefit both parties. Parasitism is when one species benefits to the detriment of another. We think mosquitoes, lamprey, ticks, bed bugs. Vampires. But below is an example of parasitism.
We humans have not been “apex predators” since we came out of the cave and picked up a stick to poke at the ground. We’re parasites. We’re the biggest parasites there are. In agriculture, we’ve created and farmed monocultures, decimating rain forests and the habitats of many. Even the corn we grow outgrows it’s natural, and variegated, cousins. We not only milk cows (and eat beef), but we breed our animals until they’re not capable of functioning outside of our care.
The folks most likely to use the title phrase of this blog are, in fact, also most likely to be one of the more pernicious parasites, seeking the advantage for themselves without (best case) a care for the detriment of other, or, in fact (worse case) at their expense.