So this really happened. I thought it was some sort of dystopian story with a moral that indicated that capitalism is bad or socialism is bad, and followed by a lot of “Yada yada” nonsense proving that economic models rarely live up to the hype.
Instead…I came to the conclusion that society will be healthy if everyone has a part in it. And it can’t be a token part, it must be a part that is respected and treated fairly. Then I looked at the economic model. The distribution of resources in a capitalist economy is based on the economic value of contributions to society. If you provide a very rare commodity, you are compensated with more value. If your contribution is small and common, you get less value for your time, effort, and investment. What do Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk contribute to the economy? What do college football coaches contribute? What do nurses contribute? How can you compare the value of those contributions in society? Apples and oranges.
In a socialist or communist economy, everyone’s contributions are combined for the good of the society, and resources are distributed in a way that everyone gets what is needed. In a small village, you have one Shaman, one healer, a few hunters, a few gatherers, some to prepare the daily meals, some to help provide and maintain shelter, some to help and provide protection, and someone that passes on wisdom from one generation to the next. Everyone commits to the “tribe” and has a job of some sort that they offer to the tribe. The person passing on the wisdom may do that every day, as will those that prepare meals. The hunters may not go out every day, and neither may the gatherers. Those that provide and maintain shelter may not have to do that on an everyday basis either. The healer may not have patients every day, nor the shaman. Situations could arise where people could get upset sharing food they prepared to people who do not appear to have to work every day. If hunters are unsuccessful, the whole tribe goes hungry. If the healer is unsuccessful, people in the tribe die. Jealousy sticks up its ugly head.
But looking at this Universe 25 experiment, it seems obvious to me that the control of the resources is at the center of this experiment. Mice are not capitalists or socialists, they are scavengers. There was plenty of food. There was plenty of nesting material. There were no predators. There was no need to fight over resources. In fact, though there were territorial skirmishes, no one mouse could control all the outlets to the food. Adult males with no status in the group withdrew. Adult females with no status went to the beauty shop, and they preened themselves endlessly. At the same time, they rejected any type of mating behavior. None of these withdrawn mice had any role in the colony. Some of the mice became aggressive and territorial and that gave them a perceived place in this society. Some of the female mice were prolific but didn’t provide for their pups. In fact, there were some that forgot they were mothers! Others actually killed and ate their offspring. It is not the economic model that is to blame; it is the nature of our relationships to the society we belong to and the members we share it with.
But…like all the mice, we have adequate food and materials needed to live and live well by human standards.
When sin came into the world, it affected all of life, even mice. I can picture Moyshe Mouse leading his fellows across the creek on dry land while the Pharoah Mouse sends his minions to bring them back…
In this season of Advent, our concentration is on repentance. Live in a way that shows our gratitude for being forgiven for our fallen nature. Do not be greedy. Do not seek for something you have not earned. If you see someone in need and you have what they don’t, share it. Do your work to the very best of your ability. Treat everyone with respect. We don’t have to be mice.