A correspondent shared this with me some time ago. It seems to be based on Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle. And has apparently been misattributed to David Attenborough.
“If you catch 100 red fire ants as well as 100 large black ants, and put them in a jar, at first, nothing will happen. However, if you violently shake the jar and dump them back on the ground the ants will fight until they eventually kill each other. The thing is, the red ants think the black ants are the enemy and vice versa, when in reality, the real enemy is the person who shook the jar.
“This is exactly what’s happening in society today. Liberal vs. Conservative. Black vs. White. Pro Mask vs. Anti-Mask. Vax vs. Anti-vax. Rich vs. poor. Man vs. woman. Cop vs. citizen. [Etc.] The real question we need to be asking ourselves is who’s shaking the jar… and why?”
Indeed, since she shared that with me, we can add a lot more: Russia versus Ukraine. Various AmerInd tribal groups against “settlers” (Anglos). And the list can go on and on.
Now, I don’t know much about ants – I see them all the time and sometimes fight the bugs when the wrong kinds invade my yard and start building mounds. But I’ve seen ants fighting, in and out of jars. (Jeff Thomas wrote about this a couple of years ago for Doug Casey’s The International Man website, republished by the Ron Paul Institute, just to share attributions.)
Mainstream media and their associates of course condemn it as “an awkward” parable. I don’t agree.
It reminds me of an alternate history book I read, many years ago. It stuck in my mind for several reasons, including the fact that the Denver Public Library had filed in the History section and NOT in Fiction. Robert Sobel’s For Want of a Nail is a classic of alternate history, claiming (fictionally) to be a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book of a much longer history, Scorpions in a Bottle. It postulates a North America divided not between a single dominant polity (our own United States of America) and a host of larger and smaller nations (notably the United Mexican States and the Dominion of Canada and a bunch of quite tiny states). Instead, there are two nearly equal and bitter enemies: the Confederation of North America – a key part of the British Empire – and the United States of Mexico, resulting from Thomas Jefferson and other failed rebels fleeing to what we call Texas and eventually creating a USA-style empire stretching all the way to Panama and Alaska. Big as North America is, it is too small for the incredibly antagonistic superpowers. And it ultimately leads to their destruction.
Keep in mind that book was written way back in the 1970s, before the final act of the Great Patriotic War, in which the Soviet Union, victorious over the other scorpion (the German Reich) in a much smaller, European bottle, ultimately succumbed to its own weaknesses and faults.
Of course, it isn’t just in confined spaces that conflict between two such tough antagonists can erupt. Consider the mongoose and the cobra (as in this video) and remember that the mongoose does not always win.
And if anyone is in the way or too close, they may not make it through either.
Thus it is with libertarians in the Fifty States today. In some ways, we may be advised to look at the last two decades of growing animosity between Democrats and Republicans as the early stages of the final denouement of their battle in a bottle – the Fifty States – for power. Why? Federal power is at a zenith: no State – not Texas or Florida on one end of a spectrum or California on the other – really contests FedGov power and control. No matter how much they scream about how they are doing so.
So Dems and the GOP now are playing out that old Western novel scenario. The bandit gang has successfully ambushed and robbed the Deadwood stage carrying a ton of gold, and as they ride off with it, they fall out among each other. Soon enough, the gang starts to kill each other off, the idea being last man standing gets it all.
Think about this. McConnell and Schumer have FAR more in common with each other than they do with 99% of their State’s constituents – or even their State’s governments and politicians. Ditto for Pelosi and McCarthy in the House. That is even MORE the case for the bureaucrats who serve those politicians there in DC: the congressional staffers and the permanent bureaucrats in the Executive departments.
But like the meme from the old Highlander show – ultimately, there can be only one!!! The two wings of the bird of prey have the body politic prostrate between them (in their eyes). Now, they no longer want to share the carcass.
That is, us. Think about it.