The Zoo-Keepers, and The Devil's Seduction

2023-08-12

George Hotz often uses this analogy of the tiger and the chum.

You’re a tiger and get the choice between two ways of living:

  1. Being a zoo animal, where you get to mope around, being fed buckets of chum.
  2. You live out in the wild, like tigers do, having to hunt antelopes and conquer nature’s challenges.

The tiger would choose the buckets of chum. Even if there was an open door between the two, once the tiger has entered the zoo, and experienced the buckets of chum, he won’t leave. The zoo-keeper isn’t stronger than the tiger, it is just smart enough to control the tiger with chum.

This is analogous to our current state. In the west, we live in very controlled societies with massive governments that rule over us, deciding what we’re allowed and not allowed to eat, sell, learn, say and (without them admitting it) think. This does afford us an extremely convenient life. Schooling is provided the young, band-aids for the hurt, and money for the poor. Buckets of chum.

However, as is discussed at length in Industrial Society and Its Future, this leads directly to the death of autonomy, dignity, purpose and humanity. It leads to centralization, depression, nihilism, hubristic atheism, and all the degeneracy the Ring of Gyges can afford you.

There is an alternative. Escaping to the woods, to small, local, low-tech and independent communities. Almost nobody does this, because you have to give up your buckets of chum. It is difficult.

There is here an illusion of choice. The fact that it is mostly physically possible to choose an alternative makes it seem as though the buckets of chum aren’t bad, like the zoo-keeper isn’t bad. They’re just giving you food! However, you have become a tourist attraction, completely deprived of everything that once made you, a pathetic husk only human by name.

Speaking of names, this process has many. Some call it “perverse incentives”, some call it Moloch, some call it the devil, some call it Loki. No matter what name you give him, this is how he operates. Nobody forced you to enter this state.1 You choose it yourself, by the small choices you make every day. He doesn’t come and threaten you directly. Almost nothing of the devil purports to genuinely be of the devil. The devil wears a suit and tie, and will at the very least disguise his antics in sarcasm. If you’re under the impression that you’ve seen nothing but increased fun and enjoyment, then force is never needed. If all goes according to plan, you’ll simply follow where ever the pleasure leads you, never even aware of his existence. Supreme victory is achieved if you even started vehemently denying the existence of the devil! For you can never avoid what you refuse to see.

In that case, if someone tries to tell you about this, you might even get mad! Why are you trying to take away my buckets of chum!? Why are you insulting my zoo-keepers?! You would naturally think them cruel, for trying to deprive you of your chum! Every zoo-animal deserves the right to free chum!

Given that we agree the end result of this process is bad, how do we stop it? Is it even possible to fight the urge to indulge? Clearly there is something in us that wants to fight. Some would call it our better nature, some would call it the voice of God, or Odin. Whatever you call it, we have better start listening sooner rather than later.

I say all this to you as a hypocrite. I have not escaped. I too am addicted to the buckets of chum. Maybe less than other people, but my lesser indulgence doesn’t mean I’m not a zoo animal. Just that I am a begrudging zoo animal. No better than the others, just hungrier.

I believe this is the ultimate fight of our time, if not of all eternity, and I’m not entirely sure we will win. I suppose it wouldn’t be much of a fight if I was. At least this difficulty makes it possible to describe as a fight or as a war. This helps to explain that it is real. That the enemies of the Good in humanity are real. The enemies of the Æsir. That we stand before forces much larger than ourselves. We’re going to be facing the Jotun, and we better be preparing for war, for Ragnarok, for it is coming.


  1. Yes, the government is free to kill you if you ignore or fight them. But, if you minimize how much you are seen to struggle against their rules, and put aside enough money to pay their ransoms, you’ll be fine. ↩︎