Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ants and Libertarians

I* lean libertarian. I admit it. Though these are dark days for my fellow travelers with many ducking any responsibility, j'accusing left and right; shaming themselves, I say. But those are topics for another time.

Today I was thinking about ants and libertarians. Rarely, when libertarians discuss ants, do they take the point of view of the individual ant.

While we may recognize that the individual, worker or soldier or queen, is simply doing what they do, selfish-gene'ing away towards a better life for themselves, most of us are interested in the 'hive-mind' or emergent properties of an ant colony. Interested in how the actions of the individuals create a broader social structure that can be analyzed and with which we can, in some form, interact.

We fancy ourselves the superior intelligence, that we can recognize the emergent properties of the colony. The life of a single ant not amounting to much by our account. But, when it comes to analyzing our own species we (libertarians) tend focus on the individual ant.

But we are social animals. We do not exist, or not as an intelligent, sane being, for long without others of our kind. The social and emergent properties of our species should be of deep interest to us.

Whether an ant can understand, and by understanding change a colony is uncertain. Seems doubtful. But we are the superior intelligence on the planet. So we claim. So we believe.

Some think that, without changing human nature, we can understand and gain control of the emergent properties of our species. But libertarians seem especially doubtful. You cannot escape your programming. We are ants who aspire to the dreams of homo sapiens sapiens.

*I the machine, though 'we' would work as well, and sometimes I/we shall employ it.

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