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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/701

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LAWS OF GOVERNMENT AMONG LOWER ANIMALS.

decidedly in favor of the preservation of social equality and of the stationariness of civilization. If either ant or man is apt to rise or to fall, then the shorter the time during which such rise or fall is possible the more surely will a uniform level of society be maintained.

To prevent misunderstanding, I must remark that differences of structure, with a corresponding difference of duties, occur among the workers in the ant-hill; but these differences are not transmissible, and the various classes of workers spring indiscriminately from the same parents. Hence they are not analogous to the castes that have arisen in many human races.

It is noteworthy that man has from time to time sought to imitate the neuter order so prevalent in hymenopterous societies. These attempts, however, whether made by devoting certain classes to celibacy, or by a more barbarous method prevalent in antiquity, and surviving in the East even to our own times, have been an utter failure. Celibates have always proved a disturbing force. What would be the effects, moral and social, of the appearance of a neuter form of the human species, corresponding to the working bee or ant, it is difficult to foresee. We may venture to surmise that they would be disastrous.

But, though communists, ants and bees are not cosmopolitans. A stranger of the same species, but belonging to a different nationality, is far from welcome in the hive or the nest. As a rule, death will be its lot.

Wars not infrequently rage between different hives, or between distinct settlements of ants of one and the same species. According to several observers, though the contending armies are to human eyes utterly undistinguishable, yet each individual combatant never fails to discriminate between friend and foe.

Concerning the government of social insects, we are as yet utterly in the dark. We see works undertaken, altered and extended, criminals executed, guards set, food brought in, nuisances removed, expeditions planned, and wars waged, but we do not see the guiding spirit. Who determines in what direction a body of ecitons shall set out on a foray? Who regulates the numbers and the position of the guard found at the entrances of an ant-hill? Who relieves the little sentinels in due course?

In some species there are, indeed, large-sized individuals which seem to exercise a kind of authority, but concerning their powers and duties we know little indeed. If the various functions of a human community were left to the spontaneous initiative of all comers, we should have sad confusion. Now, the various duties to be regularly performed in an ant-hill, if less numerous and multiform than those of a civilized human city, yet seem, to our eyes, to be sufficiently complex to necessite a prearranged system.