Do Ants Dream of Empire?

Do Ants Dream of Empire?

I once saw a number of anthills in the Australian bush from the vantage point of a tall tree.  You could clearly see the home territory of each anthill from the area around it that the ants had cleared.  You could see the sphere of influence of each, the zones of conflict and Green Lines.  You could see the impact the colony had had on its environment. Trails lead away from each anthill, placing each one in the centre of a network of enterprise.  Fallow areas surrounded each territory, marking areas where conflict made it unproductive for anyone to forage. You could see that the ants were up to something, something big.

You couldn’t see the actual ants. They were too small to be noticed and were quietly getting on doing their day job. As a consequence of individual diligence their tribe controlled large parts of the jungle floor. I wondered if the ants knew what they were doing.  Were they solely focused on doing their work or did ants dream of empire?

I am an accountant, in my mid-thirties.  I live in Scotland but I’ve lived in Australia and England too. I used to be a lawyer and I’ve studied Entrepreneurship. I’m studying economics. I used to think my politics were progressive until the current government started using the word about itself.

More and more I come to view the world through the lens of economics.  It’s not the only answer but I find it a useful way to frame the question.

Like the Australian ants of my youth I think most people just quietly get on with their lives. They are focused on their own situation and most of the time, they don’t think about the long-term whole-world impact of their behaviour. Why would they?  I don’t?

I’m starting this blog for two reasons.

Firstly, I want to understand my own politics better.  I used to be very certain about what the answer was but I’m not sure I even understand the question any more.

Secondly, I want to contribute to the debate on the two big issues of the 21st Century.  How do we react to climate change?  How do we organise our economy now that we have reached an Age of Abundance? How do we manage the conflict between the two issues.

So I hope this blog will be a series of well reasoned essays on political and economic issues of the day and that by being forced to think about them from first principles I will uncover, or rediscover, what I believe but lost some time ago.

I also hope to apply some accounting and economic logic to the problems of climate change and energy policy.  I want to discuss what we do now that we have, on average, enough wealth for us all to live a comfortable fulfilled life but that the wealth is not held evenly enough for all of us to enjoy that life.

 I want to have the kind of conversation about policy that you can’t have in the letters page of the Daily Mail.

I welcome your input.

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2 Responses to Do Ants Dream of Empire?

  1. Francesca says:

    I completely agree with this, but I don’t see it as a sharp discontinuity. It doesn’t feel like the first time we’ve caught out any of the police, the government or the press in this kind of dishonesty, and often in a way that seems to suggest that it’s routine behaviour for them. I think it marks a scary point in that trend, though, and I’m hoping that it spurs enough outrage to lead to some kind of change.

    I read somewhere today that it is hard to find powerful leaders advocating for individual rights and welfare, and I have to agree with that. It’s depressing. I’m not sure what’s going to drive change if it’s not those people.

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