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06/23/2006 Archived Entry: "Grasshopper answers Ant"

"I FEEL RESENTMENT at your massaging of the grasshopper and ant fable." That's paraphrasing an email I got yesterday from devoted friend of liberty who, at the same time bent over backwards to try to avoid hurting my feelings.

You didn't hurt my feelings, Cat. But I have to admit I'm glad that column hit some nerves. You're not the only objector.

To those who protested that I was too hard on poor hard-working Ant, I plead guilty. I exaggerated the fable in Grasshopper's favor. Just as original is bent absurdly far in Ant's favor. How come nobody thinks about that?

We're supposed to take that tale as an admonition to be responsible and provide for ourselves against hard times. Yeah. That's good. I'm in favor. But that's not what ants do. All those worker ants are actually serfs who benefit very little by all their toil (as Geoff points out with outraged eloquence).

So is the real sting in my words or in the choices that make us antlike?

I've had my ant days. oh lord, have I. Hard-working, capital-R Responsible, and so proud of my good credit rating I practically waved a flag over it. In the end, though, I discovered that all those employers, insurers, and lenders I was so very, very Responsible toward and loyal to weren't loyal to me in equal measure. And of course I also discovered I couldn't look myself in the mirror if I continued supporting government evil (but I repeat myself).

I began to understand that a body can, with a little help from friends and the gods, have both a pleasant today and a good future. If more people awoke to creative (and essentially entrepreneurial) ways of life, we'd be a powerful threat to bureaucracies, hierarchies, "isms," and "ocracies" everywhere.

So here I am. But nobody says you have to be here if you don't want to be.

If you're happy with your life, or if you feel your toil will gain you something worth deferring pleasure for, then don't worry about any little scribbler's opinion. I'm the first to admit it: If everybody decided they should live like Grasshopper, the machinery of the world would grind to a halt.

Still ...

Read that Mogambo Guru column Silver linked to on Thursday. Look around you. The whole state-corporate fantasy edifice is built on air and illusion. On funny money chasing consumer goods. Lies on top of lies on top of lies.

To the ants (you know who you are): Is all your Responsibility going to reward you in the long run? Will you be taken care of in your old age? Will the health insurance that binds you to your job be there when you need it? Will your savings build, or be inflated away? Will your kids be well educated in those government schools you pay such a fortune for? Will those wars you finance bring freedom to the benighted? Will your employer be as faithful to you as you've been to it?

Or will you just get "another day older and deeper in debt" while state-corporate masters get exactly what they desire -- power over you and over society in exchange for all that ceaseless cooperation?

What are you going to do if it all goes blooey? What are you going to do?

Grasshopper knows his choice is risky. Might be that one day all the ants will be taking a number and getting in line to say, "I told you so."

But what if the lifelong obsession with security and respectability turns out to be the greatest risk of all?

What if one day you wake up to discover you've traded irrecoverable years for empty promises? What if one day you wake up to discover that all those Right Things you did so conscientiously were in service of an illusion peddled by and for masters to whom you were nothing but one more interchangeable and disposable Human Resource?

Posted by Claire @ 01:24 PM CST

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