Have you ever watched a confrontation between a spider and a swarm of marauding fire ants? It’s quite a spectacle. The spider is, of course, bigger. Often times, the spider has much stronger venom than an ant, and certainly possesses it in much larger quantities. It also has the special talent of web-weaving to which many an insect falls prey. But against ants, the spider is clumsy, and its defensive measures prove useless. A source of nightmares for some, the eight-legged predator is left scrambling desperately to get away as the ants latch onto its legs and begin gnawing at the weak points. Eventually, it is flipped onto its back and slowly torn apart.
Spiders and ants represent very different social norms. The spider is perhaps the ultimate individualist, with a few notable exceptions. Cannibalistic to the point where males have to use special tactics to avoid being devoured by females after copulation, they live solitary and aggressive lives. Ants are a whole different story, arranging themselves in a hierarchy of function for which they are bred, and in the performance of these functions they maintain their colony. The higher up the species ladder you go, the more dynamic social interaction becomes, wolf packs being a good example.
For human beings, social creatures that we are, we find more in common with the ants than with the spiders. If the environment allows, we form what we know as civilization, a complex network of power and dependency relationships which is essential to our survival and our predominance in the food chain. Vital to this is a sense of identity which extends beyond our own sphere of autonomy and allows us to form cooperative groups. How strong this bond is will in part determine the strength or weakness of the human society vis-à-vis other societies.
Ants have a sophisticated olfactory receptor system used to identify other ants as friend or foe. We have our five senses, the most important being sight, by which we perceive those like us and practice kin selection to determine exactly with whom we belong. If our eyes fail us, we have a language that our kinsmen know, and in our interactions we recognize psychological profiles similar to our own, related to how we deal with emotions. At the higher level, the uniquely human grasp of metaphysics also determines our identity, differentiating people based on their beliefs about fundamental non-scientific questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.
Recently, I watched a debate between well-known alt-right vlogger Millennial Woes and libertarian Sargon of Akkad. Most of the conversation centered around race. Interestingly, the chasm which separated them wasn’t based on any misinterpretation of facts by either side. They both seemed to agree on the demographic realities of Europe, and even that Islamic migrants threatened the continent. Where they disagreed, the reason was entirely down to instinct. Woes thought that group identity was real and important, while Sargon dismissed it as outdated. Like many libertarians, Sargon wants to judge everyone as an individual; he wants society oriented around individuals, not groups. So long as you subscribe to the presuppositions of liberalism, he doesn’t care what group you might consider yourself a part of.
In the wake of the ISIS-claimed Brussels terror attacks that have taken the lives of at least 34, I had a long think about this debate.
We all remember that prescient article by Thomas Barghest about the radioactivity of atomic individualism, and funnily enough I had just been reading Guénon on individualism:
What has never been seen before is the erection of an entire civilization on something purely negative, on what indeed could be called the absence of principle; and it is this that gives the modern world its abnormal character and makes of it a sort of monstrosity, only to be understood if one thinks of it as corresponding to the end of a cyclical period, as we have already said. Individualism, thus defined, is therefore the determining cause of the present decline of the West, precisely because it is, so to speak, the mainspring for the development of the lowest possibilities of mankind, namely those possibilities that do not require the intervention of any supra-human element and which, on the contrary, can only expand freely if every supra-human element be absent, since they stand at the antipodes of all genuine spirituality and intellectuality.
People like Sargon and by extension the entire West have ceased to operate under the mentality that is organic to them, that of ants, and have instead adopted the mentality of the spider. The Enlightenment drove a knife through the religious identity that had once granted an uneasy unity to the continent, yet with the emergence of the nation state, the effects of this were not immediately apparent. In the wake of WWII, when this last collectivist roadblock was felled and the atomized individual was finally recognized as the supreme deity, wise enough to vote, and vested with ‘rights’ which superseded the needs of the nation, the blood was in the water. And so into this once thriving anthill now home only to a few dank caverns where childless widows brood, a new colony is moving in.
We cannot erect borders because after all, not all the ants are warriors with bombs strapped to their chests; some are just workers, and we need to judge each one on a case by case basis to the best of our ability.
The West has gorged with luxurious abandon on its technological and economic supremacy for decades, but all the iPads and euros in the world will not stand in the way of nature’s cruel mistress.
The ants don’t care about your individual thoughts and feelings. They don’t care about your pathetic #PrayForTheAnthill hashtags or #NotAllAnts sentiments on Facebook. Their primal motivation is the organic drive for conquest. They have an identity, and if you aren’t a part of it, you’re lunch, that is, unless you can defend yourself.
When Bangladeshi Muslims went on a spree of rapes in Burma, the response from the Buddhist majority was swift and brutal. When bombs detonate at a Belgian airport, Europeans ensure they’ve done the necessary virtue signaling (especially the political and media elites) and then continue on tending to their own web of hedonism and avarice. Any attempts on the part of Europeans to revert to the ant mentality are denounced with more rancor than the sex gangs of Rotherham ever received.
It’s not as if there aren’t bright spots. The Czech Republic has retained its ethnic identity and so has declined to take in refugees. Poland is lucky enough to have escaped Communism with both its ethnic and religious identity fully intact. Enemy ants under the black flag won’t be getting in without a bulldozer. The response to hostile invasion is determined it seems by the collectivist/individualist dichotomy. Neither is absolute. Of course, liberals like to belong to groups, and of course reactionaries recognize spheres of personal autonomy which ought not be violated. However, the general consensus on the left is what is good for the individual, and the general consensus on the right is what is good period.
Some people laugh, bringing up the grinning face of John Oliver as he announced France needed more migrants or they would end up becoming skeletons. I’ll admit, there is a macabre humor about the left, setting up a phone box in Brussels for foreigners to supposedly call in and ask if the place is the “hell” Donald Trump described it as, only to be met with infantile giggling. “Oh, how silly, Brussels is a picture of serenity!”
In spite of this, as I watch the sequence of violent shootings, bombings, mass rapes, and general terror being imported into Europe at levels unseen since the armies of the Caliphate marched towards Vienna, I think of the spider being eviscerated by ants. Perhaps the only thing more unsettling would be an ant who had somehow deluded himself into thinking he was a spider, suffering the same tragic fate.