Ants and Armadillos

I happened upon the following graphic on a conservative website recently.


This isn’t entirely subtle. The crude intent being to smear Mr. Hitler by implied commonality with Hillary Clinton.  It’s an extremely common artifice across the political spectrum that seems almost beyond our capacity to resist. To see I’ve used it myself in these pages wouldn’t be a surprise. We all understand the mechanics. If an established bete noir ate artichokes, then artichokes must be bad. If he conspicuously didn’t eat his boogers, then boogers must be good. This doesn’t require a particularly nimble mind to embrace. Though returning to the specific image above, it was captioned with the following lament:

Central Planners will always be with us in this vale of tears

That is true.  And It is true because men are not solitary armadillos shuttling to and fro from eternal bachelor burrows. Rather we form intricate relationships, establish hierarchies, and enforce constantly e(de)volving norms of behavior and social lubrication. Human beings are not opium pellets, and will always coalesce into groups. Groups require organization to be productive and keep hands away from necks.

Whether we care for the concept or not, an ecosystem featuring some degree of directed coordination will always emerge. It may take the form of a pharaoh’s court or the bureaucracy of institutions. But, like tribal conflict, central planning will live until man does not. Our chore is to seek the most benign format and practice extreme discretion in who we people it with. Though here is another image of reviled central planners.

But beyond what may seem like a sterile slot in society, there are the very personal elements to acknowledge.  We have a role outside ourselves. We have responsibilities even greater than the nurturing of our own little snowflake. We are all very short links in a very long chain. So when you see sentiments decrying society’s preeminence over the individual, give a pause before reflexively gasping at the connotation of evil. Society is the vessel that carries our children’s future. And if you have children of your own, tell me the value of their lives to yours. If a tally were made, is your life, your ambitions, your vain pleasures and piques really the sole animating force in your own life? Are they even the most compelling ones? I’ll wager the answer for most is no. That what most people have created for and given to others matters more–though I don’t wish to slight our solipsists and sociopaths. Regardless, the point should be fairly plain.  However one wants to trace the concentric circles of society, assigning its welfare priority over any given individual hardly seems an apt marker for malevolence–certainly not on the scale of a Hillary Clinton.

As a closing aside, readers of this site will ipso facto trend heavily iconoclastic. This material finds little purchase among native conformists. So there’s a natural tendency toward individualism, possibly even a benign sliver of misanthropy. Though I doubt those will cloud the issue. As we are not armadillos, neither are we eusocial ants. We have our day in the sun and our responsibility at the end of the day. We pass the world from our fathers to our sons. If we can both enjoy the transfer and give more than we got…well, that’s a life damn well lived.


9 thoughts on “Ants and Armadillos

    • I don’t know if you mean it, but one thoughtful corollary of it all is Hitler wasn’t necessarily such a bad guy, not on the basis of his quote. Or more precisely, he is not differentiated from other leaders of the ages based on such a quote. That’s a passing thought.

      You’re right in all you say, there’s just subtleties here. As far as I know, ants aren’t so much ‘centrally-planned’ as they are innately self-organizing (as also with people). Let biology buffs correct me, but I think the bona fide “central p.” criticism is a different thing: your Stalin, your Lenin, your Pol Pot, that sort of thing. Your Kakistocracy, if I may invoke that.

      In any event I have been stirred to thought because the cartoon, plus the elegant extra caption by the original author (Mr. Acres, I assume, that is where I saw it), was food for thought for me as it seems to have been for you. Mr. Acres seems to be a little libertarianishic-bent sometimes; and this caption of his seemed like a profound, graceful sort of concession to the impossibility of the no-ruler or no-government idea. I may be reading all that into it.

      So given that concession–there must be rule–we’re back to just what you say above. But then is the necessity for it not to be a kakistocracy. There is a final warning to be wary of the quotations when they come, because while strictly true by themselves, that is why they can be abused. That’s the twister.

      • At this point I would rather have a White European dictator who thinks he’s doing what’s best for his White people micromanaging every aspect of my life than what we have. A White dictator can live and manage things for how long? 100 years,maybe? More like 75?

        The bureaucracy is immortal and impersonal and has no connection whatsoever to the people. It is not elected by them, is not accountable to them, and in all probability,hates them and views them as suckers or chumps or so many sheep to be shorn and slaughtered at will. It can continue as long as the money to pay for it holds out. And since the money is just a piece of paper that is printed up and invested with value by the bureaucracy bosses, that unjust situation can continue indefinitely.

        No thanks. Give me Adolf Hitler,or Pinochet, or even King George III. We see how much power they have today compared to the government of the United States.

  1. “We are all very short links in a very long chain.”

    Some years ago I worked for an engineering company that did work with the Mormon Church. As such I was invited to tour a temple that had been constructed prior to its consecration, when non-Mormons such as myself could still enter.

    Temples are where all Mormon marriages are held. In an upstairs hallway was a set of very large mirrors placed across from one another. As part of the wedding process, each couple goes and stands between these mirrors, where they see their reflections arrayed out behind them in a line that stretches out forever in the past and forever before them into the future. What a profound message to convey to a young couple as they start their lives together: We are all very short links in a very long chain,.

    I worked with the church for several years and found them extremely pleasant to interact with. Although I was personally irredeemable, I came to respect the strength and ‘fitness’ of their ideology. They do have a very strong sense of their relationship with previous and following generations, and the fleeting but vitally important nature of their part in it all.

  2. As I’ve remarked, this is the sort of message that sends people scurrying for other company in respectable Christian circles. Or it’s replaced with an ersatz “the church is your family!” universalist sentiment (this was actually said to me two Sundays ago).

    It’s slippery rhetoric, because while true, it’s the life cycle of baptism, marriage and funeral which keeps the whole thing from turning into a book club for middle-aged converts.

  3. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/02/20) | The Reactivity Place

  4. Those who think solely as individuals will end up being wiped out by those who think on the racial level. And of course, the people who devised the Hitler/Clinton graphic would be scared to death to utter a heretical opinion on race.

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