Humans are Not Made for the Ant Heap

Reflecting on Our Purpose as Co-Heirs with Christ

Cultural programs that require depersonalization and denial of the individual are inherently flawed and doomed to fail. Humans are image bearers of one God who is three Persons, indivisibly united yet distinct. As such, our species is made for diversity in harmony, not peace at the price of uniformity. A secular author who expressed this instinct well was Aldous Huxley. In 1958, under the Cold War cloud of communist experiments, he observed in Brave New World Revisited,

Biologically speaking, man is a moderately gregarious, not a completely social animal—a creature more like a wolf, let us say, or an elephant, than like a bee or an ant. In their original form human socie es bore no resemblance to the hive or the ant heap; they were merely packs. Civiliza on is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social insects’ organic communities. At the present time the pressures of over-population and technological change are accelerating this process. The termitary has come to seem a realizable and even, in some eyes, a desirable ideal. Needless to say, the ideal will never in fact be realized. A great gulf separates the social insect from the not too gregarious, big-brained mammal; and even though the mammal should do his best to imitate the insect, the gulf would remain. However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can only create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism they will merely create a totalitarian despotism.

Indeed, humanity was not made for the ant heap but for the mountain top. The ultimate end for which we are created is realized, not in drone-like production on behalf of the Collective, but in creative co-rule with Christ and his people. A sense of regal purpose is therefore, I think, essential to healthy enterprise. Prosperity is best achieved in organizing and empowering responsible agents into mutually beneficial work; in maximizing personal freedom, not in subjugating many to a few. Conversely, programs which downplay one's individual, eschatologically-fired sense of human dignity will ultimately undermine the capacity to flourish.