Welcome the Anteater, he is our saviour.

Edward Taaffe
10 min readApr 9, 2020

Every major change in the way humans organise themselves has come about as a result of enormous upheaval, not the other way around. For an interesting viewpoint on this same phenomenon, look up Garbage Can Politics or read my more light-hearted commentary here.

A few, have had modest successes in large organisations by driving change from the top down and then bottom up, but whatever the model, the results run parallel to pure chance, even when you have enormous power over people. I have some of the tee-shirts and plenty of the scars.

Why people are so hard to change is not difficult to understand.
Despite great theories from Maslov, Hertzberg, Rafaat, Chater and Firth and so many others, by far the strongest drive in humans, right from the start is simply to fit in.

Rather than delve into sociological or psychological terminology that is weak in any case; I’ll describe it in terms of, “find a gang that looks like me and is headed somewhere I find acceptable and blend right in”. That simple theory explain everything from racism to fashion and of course populism.
The majority of us, including eminent scientists, never emotionally develop beyond that mindset.
It is hardly a surprise then, that threatening to take away that gang, however out-of-step it be according to your tempo, is seen by the recipient as a serious threat to their security and an act of aggression. It explains why people accept shocking behaviour from society rather than stand out even for a brief moment and above all it describes the gun that modern politicians hold to your head.

Ants do it, why not humans?

Kirman 1993 explains well the self-preservation strategy of an ant colony faced with a number of food sources.
Rather than divide themselves equally into groups as a strategically governed herd might do, they use gossip to recruit more ants and the loudest gossip communicates to a hungry bug where his best likelihood of a meal lies.
The key outcome of analysing this as a strategy, in many ways reinforces those who believe in a higher being, because survival of the herd and the species inevitably is served at the expense of the individual.
What if quite a few bugs are squashed, or starved in the course of saving the herd? That is the underlying belief structure as interpreted by those who see themselves as elevated to a god-like level in our society.
A more studious type would be aware of the risk to the herd of success, or as humans might describe it, an ant epidemic. Too much Easy-Street grows the herd too big, puts pressure on food supplies, threatens the local environment and attracts predators.
Again, a studious type might remark at how well the herd behaviour serves to control numbers and protect the herd from itself.

This piece; however, is not about herds per se, but about change.
Humans differ: we believe, from ants in that we remember and we reflect.
Humans are listening to the gossip too, but it’s not just about food supplies. It’s also about threats and about how fast the pile is running out.
Nervous humans; much like ants, build a sub conscious awareness that the time is approaching to climb on a log and float downstream in hope of a better territory while avoiding rapids. Just like the ants, they will never climb on that log unless The Anteater is consuming their brother and eyeing them up. In fact students of “The change curve” will be familiar with that last minute thrust for freedom as they reject all their previous vows to change and cling on by the finger nails to the old way at almost any cost.

The reason I am writing about change again, is because of the turmoil we are seeing right now.
Having your patch decimated, your food pile threatened and your herd behaving strangely and splintering is disconcerting for most people. Suspecting that the Ant in chief can’t be trusted and doesn’t’ t even seek your trust is not helpful.
What is vital to understand is that The Anteater is with us. Things won’t go back to “normal”.
It won’t go back to normal, because normal was already badly broken, had been for some time and the herd has been waiting for a moment like this to get the necessary courage and start climbing on those logs.
The time for change has come, it became long overdue and finally The Anteater has arrived, now it’s time to let go and move forward.
Change is never driven by those with a lot to lose, but those with least to lose. The future belongs to those who adapt and look to the future.
If you’ve been feeling left out, or left behind, or you have been jealous of others, well now is probably your chance. Only that negative attitude can hold you back.

The Ant in chief wants the same thing you do. No change, make-believe, BAU. He will kill you and all your family under any convenient pretence to get what he wants, only what he wants is no longer there anyhow.
Embrace the change, alter your mindset, start looking for likely logs and take care of your little herd, you still need them. Your cheese has moved look elsewhere and look for different shaped cheese.

The thing about herd gossip is that it can swing sharply and that swing begins with one individual. Soon it reaches a tipping point (Malcolm Gladwell) and then it has a life of its own. If you don’t want to be alone on the path, then help us start a movement. Recruit worthwhile travelling companions.

The man on the elephant always believes he is in charge. because when he commands, the elephant turns, and the chart he is steering by is designed to look impressive by people whose job that is, but when the elephant has other ideas, the man goes where the elephant wants him to go. The man on the elephant is deluded and on borrowed time. Don’t follow that man, follow the elephant, you are the elephant.

A few questions to ponder:
What would you do if you saw yourself as a very special ant with extra vision and a God-given right?

If you had a friend who understood ants and could signal a food supply or a threat anywhere you wished it to happen and you also were that special one mentioned previously, what might you decide to do? Would you enlist others to send those messages?

If you were having these precise conversations and reading these same books, what terminology might slip out in your communications? Herd maybe?

If you saw your fellow man as a herd to be exploited, would you risk the farm to keep them all alive?

If you were caught in the act by these helpless ants, would you own up and put things right, or would you double down?

These are not statements, but questions. They are intended to cultivate open-mindedness, not to tell you what to believe, but a warning to be mindful. Keeping an eye on the servants is never a bad idea, even if you trust them and that is just one aspect of the questions I am raising.

There is not a logical explanation as to why the UK, a country that’s been pretending to fight WMD since Iraq and more recently, the Novichock farce and spends £40 bn p.a. defending against mostly imaginary enemies (realistically, how likely are we to be invaded?): had insufficient budget; or equipment to fight a flu epidemic, let alone rise to a WMD pandemic.
Last time I worked in the Public service, there was a strategy for the very large threat of Epidemics. What went wrong, or rather the question may be, why was it not executed?

That simply can’t be explained away. Even the Oligarchs these people answer to would have been equally happy selling us PPE as munitions. Why? Will we ever know? Is it just about being stuck in that old rut we mentioned?
That’s what we’ve always done, I hear them say.

The most likely explanation is that nothing was prepared because just like you, everyone subconsciously knew the time was up for our current way and nothing less than The Anteater would give us the courage to act and give politicians the license to act.

So what kind of changes have already established themselves in the Queue awaiting The Anteater?

1. Simple pleasures like good food cooked lovingly and eaten with friends and family are far more rewarding than tower block hotels in Benidorm.

2. Bicycles are cheaper and better than Gymnasiums and save the planet.

3. Houses are homes to live in not properties. Demand change. Get rid of rent seekers and make high quality homes a human right. The 400k home in London sits on land worth .5k max and costs 100k to build. Demand change.

4. Demand availability of long term assured tenancies at affordable prices in places you and your children want to live. Its easy, only Neoliberal rent-seekers stand in the way of that.

5. There is no reason to go to work and has not been for at least a decade. The crammed underground: the dying plane; the disgusting sandwiches, all unnecessary. Most people can work better from home and save on buildings, trains, oil, the planet, leisure time.

6. There is no need to attend meetings: we’ve been doing them online for decades with great success; just do it and save the planet, the pandemics, money, your sanity.

7. Students don’t need to attend Universities building huge debt and to a large extent schools and adults don’t need to travel to training courses. We are doing it already and we can do it better.
Stop chatting like washer gals and just do it.

8. Free markets don’t discover price, or promote freedom as claimed, the very few that remain, that is.
In the midst of Covid19 we see Trump and Putin meeting in an attempt to fix oil prices. Nearly every market of significance is fixed by semi-formal oligarchies, or even monopolies, or outright rigged for profit like Libor was. Has your domestic fuel bill reduced by 80% this month in line with oil?
Let’s stop the charade. Let’s put an end to this.

9. A new graduate engineer could write a system today to calculate prices and supply/demand very accurately and run it on an old android. Let’s re-home those dealers and bankers while there’s an economy to save.

10. Banks are just a lucrative old boy’s club. Get that same graduate to write a simple system to receive your salary and pay your bills or card transactions. No need for a blood sucking bank, just a handful of techies and a few customer services people and no charges needed. Let’s demand it and just get on with it.

11. Free markets cause over and under production and wastage as well as farmers going bust. Lets help them out with a little AI. It doesn’t have to be communism; or central planning, just help them grow what we want and need not guess and lose. The same applies to manufacturing.

12. Just in time supply chains spanning the globe for perishables and urgent supplies is a huge risk to our security, how can it have taken so long to recognise it and make a start. Let’s get on to it and fix it.

13. Global currency exchange rates are not served at all by a market, we all know this and have for a long time. Some form of Purchasing Power Parity calculation can be used far more effectively and help to restore vital global trade by dealing with the racketeering and devaluations and giving businesses confidence in the currencies.

14. We can’t close borders and be islands, we did Breton Woods after WW2 to avert terrible famines. They can and will return along with war and more disease. We need to build, strengthen and respect powerful global institutions big enough to keep the peace and keep commerce working fairly.

15. Every Billionaire is a failure of Government policy. They don’t need that much money for anything. We can give them more interesting coins to earn and show off instead of starving the very poorest for their benefit.

16. No politician should ever be allowed an offshore account even in close family

17. Tax havens globally should be shut down and the money redistributed unless a serious genuine case can be made that it is legitimately held money.

18. Politicians don’t need and should not under any circumstance be given large funds from private sources to fund their campaigns. The idea that we allow, let alone support such a thing beggars belief. Future generations will look back and be staggered by our laziness and lack of responsibility. It’s very easy, give them free access to all Social Media and a handful of public debates for free and that’s it. No more. Deliberate liars should be tried and face big sentences if convicted.

19. Every person should have access to not just quality and secure home accommodation: but also; fuel, sufficient food and training opportunities.

20. Town planning has to address disease in the way that it originally addressed the Great Fire of London. People are entitled to space both at home and outside and it is now imperative.

21. Investment in housing is one way to employ working class people gainfully after the recessions and there has never been a better time to borrow even at -.5% for key projects that can provide a positive income into the distant future for Local Authorities. It just needs central support.

There’s more to be added, lots more, but these are foundational necessities and they need your support, otherwise politicians will continue to serve a handful of greedy Oligarchs.

Please dont fall into the trap of trying to attach what I’ve just said to a label. Thats irrelevant, you’ll know if you’ve been paying attention. This is about fixing what we’ve broken, not about more of the same.

It’s not enough to pick a colour and start supporting your team, you have to take responsibility for the policies you are supporting, own the outcomes and above all, make a point of understanding the debate and holding them to account.

If you are unhappy with the way things are, don’t sit there afraid to speak. You are not alone, it just sounds that way. Lend your support verbally, retweet, like or share this. If you disagree with something, question it.
Simply ask a friend what they think of these ideas and get us some feedback. If we are wrong tell us we are wrong. If you prefer things as they are, tell us so. Don’t sit on your hands.



Edward Taaffe

Ed is a technical consultant and writer in the areas of Digital and Products. He writes here on random subjects that catch the eye.