Sunday, May 31, 2015

Drones and Workers

I learned something about insects today.

I used to think "drones" were "workers." This is evident on several of my old webpages. For example, on this page (which I notice was last edited on Monday, July 13, 1998, 12:10:36 AM) I spoke of the "worker-drone" who was held captive by the modern "American dream" of working an unfulfilling job to pay the mortgage and accumulate the trinkets of modern society, but not aspiring to any higher spiritual purpose:

In the material realm, life in the 1990's consists mainly of a dreary 8-5 job shuffling papers or manufacturing weapons for the New World Order, making interest payments on a mortgage, and keeping the volume down on the kids' Nintendo. This "middle-class" lifestyle differs radically from that envisioned by Thomas Jefferson. His land-owning "yeoman farmer" was much closer to the Biblical ideal of the wealthy Patriarch Abraham (Genesis 13:2), and both are a far cry from the secularized American worker-drone. The televised vision of the "American Dream" effectively serves the agenda of the ruling elites in Washington. As millions of serfs labor, the lords increase their wealth.

But "drones" are not "workers."

Among termites, "The sterile castes are the workers and soldiers. Both are wingless and usually lack eyes."

That's what I was thinking of: a wingless worker who lacks eyes. (There's a profound metaphor there.)

The common meaning of the word "drone" has changed a great deal since I wrote that page above. Today the most common identification of a "drone" is an unmanned bomber or surveillance aircraft.

In the world of insects, as I was thinking of them, "drones" were mindless workers. In reality, drones are not workers, they are worthless maters. They do nothing of value until they die impregnating the Queen bee.

Worker bees are females. Drones are males. (More metaphors.) Other than mating with the Queen bee, drones are worthless. They don't work, they just eat honey.

In Episodes of Insect Life, Volume 1, L. M. Budgen observes that drones, because of "their worthless qualities, may fairly be compared to the aristocracy of a state, where birth, not worth, makes the man."