"By pursuing his own interest [every individual] frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good." ~ Adam Smith
The Curious Species Ordinatio Diutinus
Column by tzo.
Exclusive to STR
Modern governments are perhaps quite naturally thick-headed and self-destructive, destined to clumsily overreach and greedily overindulge until they inevitably collapse. It’s seemingly encoded into their metaphorical DNA.
But this is just the natural life cycle of any individual government—to be born; to consume, develop, and grow; and to die. And yet the government species lives on. It may seem puzzling that such an unstable entity continues to successfully regenerate itself, but all individual entities are mortal and are outlived by the species to which they belong.
Consider the butterfly species satyrium calanus (a.k.a. the banded hairstreak). Its eggs hatch in spring, and the emerging caterpillars eat ravenously for a couple of months until they transform via chrysalis into butterflies for a couple of months in the summer. When winter arrives, these non-migratory creatures perish in the cold.
It’s perfectly natural that each individual butterfly lives through no more than a single cycle of seasons before perishing, and yet the species endures. Satyrium calanus manages to carry on cycle after cycle because the individual butterflies carefully place eggs on leaves before the arrival of winter, and these eggs "overwinter" in a hibernation state known as diapause, waiting until warmer spring temperatures signal them to hatch. A new generation then emerges and a new cycle begins and the species carries on.
Now let’s examine the life cycle of a typical member of the curious species ordinatio diutinus (a.k.a. perpetual government). From its springtime birth it consumes, grows, and metamorphoses. It reaches the apex of its glorious golden butterfly age in the summer, then overreaches as the autumnal decline sets in, eventually terminating in a winter death.
But before each individual government finishes its natural single-cycle life, it leaves behind eggs that are designed to outlast the revolutionary winter. These eggs are “government-is-necessary” memes that have been carefully placed into the brains of the people over whom the government ruled. When winter comes and the government perishes, the hardy eggs remain. They quickly hatch, signaling a new spring and the beginning of a new life cycle for a new generation of government. And so the species carries on.
So you see, popular revolution and the overthrowing of government is nothing spectacular. It is not a triumph of freedom over tyranny. It is merely business as usual, part and parcel of the reproductive cycle of ordinatio diutinus. Each individual government has a natural strategy to deal with its own demise so as to ensure that another generation will spawn and carry its memes (think DNA) forward. Stomping the life out of a single creature does nothing to sidetrack the ongoing existence of the species.
As satyrium calanus, so ordinatio diutinus. Any plan to terminate species such as these must include an interruption of their reproductive cycles: The eggs must be destroyed.
Thomas Jefferson once said that, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." But this statement was made by an individual with “government-is-necessary” meme eggs infecting his brain. He claimed to be talking about hominis libertas (a.k.a. human freedom), but he was actually describing the natural life cycle of ordinatio diutinus. He was stating that the tree of government must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Some infections can render a person downright delirious.
Until the eggs are destroyed, ordinatio diutinus will continue to live up to its name. The “government-is-necessary” memes that reside in most brains must be removed. This requires delicate verbal surgery that runs a very high risk of the patient feeling attacked and springing from the operating table and fleeing, perhaps cursing at you on the way out the door. The memes you have targeted for removal have replicated and spread and insinuated themselves, virus-like, into most all of the patient’s thought processes and he has come to think of them as parts of his very being, much like the teeth in his own mouth.
In short, it’s really tough to get that little plastic piece out without touching the sides and setting off the red lightbulb nose buzzer.
While the task is daunting, it is not, I believe, impossible. The directions are the same as getting to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice. And as always, make sure you thoroughly check and clean out your own attic first. The little buggers are just everywhere, it seems.