Illustrating the Parasitic Divergence
Hosts: "This economy is killing us!" Parasites: "No problem!"
I often write about the Parasitic Divergence. Using a metaformal socioeconomic extension of evolutionary theory, I explain it in terms of a divergence of economic classes, one of which (the overclass) plays the role of parasite while the other (the underclass) plays the role of host. Of special interest in this context is the kind of parasitism which utilizes “mind control”, i.e., manipulation of host physiology and behavior by means of various biological mechanisms.
In biology, parasitism is the nonbeneficial and usually harmful exploitation of living host organisms as nutritional, reproductive, or habitative resources by organisms of another species. This exploitation is accomplished by various means including infection (malaria, tapeworms, brain-eating amoebas), direct attack (leeches, mosquitoes, mistletoe), stealth (vampire bats, bedbugs), deception and mimicry (cuckoo birds, lampsilis mussels), and biochemical mind control (parasitoid wasps, cordyceps fungi) in every imaginable combination.
Parasitism also occurs on the social level. The order of social Hymenoptera (i.e., bees, wasps and ants) contains many parasitic species including dulotic or “slave-making” ants like Polyergus breviceps, which mimic and sometimes kill the queens of other ant species and then cheat the workers of their labor by chemical and behavioral subterfuge. In much the same way, humans can parasitize each other within our own species, and in the process, use all of these strategies in novel ways.
There is something strange and disturbing in the parasitization of a species by its own members: where the parasitism is sufficiently widespread and destructive, it amounts to self-genocide. Given the likelihood of catastrophe, the parasites and their hosts are equally irrational in practicing and/or complying with parasitism. But while human beings, in principle, are strong and intelligent enough to resist parasitism by other human beings, we have a glaring weakness: susceptibility to delusion, especially as a function of deliberate mind-control.
Targeted with modern techniques of deception and suggestion, we can mistake intensive systematic parasitism for mutually beneficial symbiosis, destructive technology for beneficial innovation, and false narratives for truth.