I was reading a slightly ick-making article the other day about certain wasps which prey on caterpillars in a peculiar and parasitic manner – the female wasp injects her eggs into the body of the chosen prey, where they hatch into grubs and feed from the host … from the inside. In certain varieties, it appears that the inserted eggs/grubs affect the biochemistry of the luckless host, which eats and eats, but never to benefit itself. Entomologists who specialize in this kind of thing find this adaptation immensely fascinating, which is why I was reading about it, through a link form some place or other. It’s all very Alien, on a insect level, and the likeness to the movie doesn’t end there; eventually, the wasp grubs chew their way out through the body of the caterpillar … and wait – the dying caterpillar serves to the last gasp as a sort of insectoid bodyguard to the developing wasps, even sheltering them in the silk which would have made its own cocoon. And then the caterpillar dies and the fully-developed wasps fly away, to start the cycle all over again.
Then I read about how the Obamas took separate presidential flight aircraft from the east coast to the west in order that the president and his spouse could appear on two different shows, videoed at two different studios barely miles apart and within the same time frame, at great expense to the military organization which operates the aircraft in question. Really, couldn’t they have shared a flight and halved the expense … or is it that they just don’t care for each other or for much else besides their own comfort and convenience. The Obamas do appear to like the bennies and goodies that the office provides, and enjoy them with a hearty carelessness wholly befitting the court of Louis the 14th. Save that Louis and Marie Antoinette weren’t quite the feckless, arrogant aristos that they were portrayed by contemporary propagandists. Still – the reputation endures; of aristocrats enjoying themselves in a bubble of privilege and luxury, while all outside the bubble goes to rack and ruin.
The whole process of the parasitic wasp and the helpless caterpillar struck me as a metaphor for the current administration, and indeed, our current Ruling Class, in the Angelo Codevilla sense; an alien organism injecting itself into the American body politic with the sole selfish intent of surviving and enriching itself at the expense of the host … and then, of course, flying away to some gated community, fat with privilege gained from destroying the host. Of course, the ruling elite of every civilization have always rather disdained the common working folk, the bourgeoisie, the working class who made up the body of those ruled – t’was ever thus, the exploiter and the exploited. At the very least, the ruling elite have condescended to them as the ‘backbone of the country’. Our current ruling class elite has also distinguished themselves by adding to the injury of exploitation the insult of holding the larger body of citizens in active contempt … contempt which verges on hatred, depending on the person voicing it.
11 thoughts on “Ichneumonoidea”
George Will explored the role of public employee unions with such a metaphor.
Government employees’ unions living parasitically on Detroit have been less aware than ichneumon larvae. About them, and their collaborators in the political class, the question is: What. Were. They. Thinking? Well, how did Bernie Madoff or the Enron executives convince themselves their houses of cards would never collapse?
Another erudite Will column and the WaPo readers hate them. Of course, most WaPo readers are government employees and likely union members.
There you have today’s liberalism: Human agency, hence responsibility, is denied. Apart from the pesky matter of “voting in elections” — apart from decades of voting to empower incompetents, scoundrels and criminals, and to mandate unionized rapacity — no one is responsible for anything. Popular sovereignty is a chimera because impersonal forces akin to hurricanes are sovereign.
For an example of the hatred he gets from the comments (1900 to this column) an example:
George Will, you idiot. You forgot the most important occurrence with respect to Detroit’s decline. WHITE FLIGHT. Suburban Detroit Cities have always paid wages and benefits comparable (if not more than) to Detroit’s, Your death by democracy theory is flawed, fatally. But I’m not surprised since you always blame Blacks and Democrats for most of America’s ills.
Note the ignoring of Coleman Young’s defiant rants to the whites.
The animus still runs deep between the city and any outsiders. In the current situation, the emergency manager (although black) is seen as an agent of the State government which is currently in the hands of the Republican Party (and therefore white). Understanding the Coleman Young school of politics one would expect that the voters in Detroit would react negatively to “white people” trying to take over and disempower them and this is exactly what is happening. There is very little cooperation from the city with what is going on. Dave Bing, the current mayor, has been vilified for not being sufficiently confrontational and those city officials fighting the State and the Emergency Manager every step of the way have lots of support from the populace.
Possibly a preview of our national future.
Not responsive but:
A posting that convinced me of the brilliance of the man who we subsequently discovered was named Richard Fernandez was”
“The Ichneumon Wasp”
Saturday, March 13, 2004
I don’t recall reading that particular Belmont entry, Robert – but I guess that minds of a certain bent seem to see the same kinds of patterns.
One of the more recent developments which got me thinking along these lines was how various internet and tech companies are ruthlessly letting go their experienced and relatively expensive American techs in favor of cheaper and work-visa-ed techs from India. As a business owner, yes, I do like to shave my costs … but this kind of strategy might turn out to be more expensive in other ways in the long term.
I remember a great deal of fanfare about how call-centers were farming out their operations to Indian call centers … and then several years later slinking back to American call centers because of the cultural gap … among other things.
I was looking for the Fernandez post when I came across the Will article.
I read the bit ‘above the fold’ and was left wondering whether it would be the Clintons or the Obamas in your sights.
As a metaphor, Dearie, it has the flexibility to be applied to both, as well as to others of the so-called ‘Ruling Class.’ Oh, like Algore, and John F. Kerry.
If you are interested in this subject, you should read “Parasite Rex”, which is simultaneously fascinating and creepy.
It would be good if we could change the class war rhetoric from the meaningless 99% vs. 1% charade the Democrats and the Media (as if there were a difference) to something approaching the real divide. Defining the real divide is difficult. on one side: Media (includes Hollywood), legal profession, teachers (all the way from K to Grad School), federal “civil servants”, NGOs, “mainline” clergy.
Robert Schwartz–I’ve used the terms “horizontal class war” versus “vertical class war”
How is it that no one ever complains about Black Flight?
“no one ever complains about Black Flight?”
Examples ? Los Angles has seen the former “black areas” filled by Mexican immigrants but I don’t know where the blacks went.
Comments are closed.