Chapter 12: The Scorpion and the Frog

One day, a scorpion looked around at the mountain where he lived and decided that he wanted a change. So he set out on a journey through the forests and hills. He climbed over rocks and under vines and kept going until he reached a river.

The river was wide and swift, and the scorpion stopped to consider the situation.He could not see any way across. So he ran upriver and then checked downriver, all the while thinking that he might have to turn back.

Suddenly, he saw a frog sitting in the rushes by the bank of the stream on the other side of the river. He decided to ask the frog for help getting across the stream.

“Hellooo Mr. Frog!” called the scorpion across the water, “Would you be so kindas to give me a ride on your back across the river?”

“Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you won't try to kill me?” asked the frog hesitantly.

“Because,” the scorpion replied, “If I tried to kill you, then I would die too, for yousee I cannot swim!”

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked, “What about whenI get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!”

“This is true,” agreed the scorpion, “But then I would not be able to get to the other side of the river!”

“Alright do I know you will not just wait until we get to the other side and then kill me?” said the frog.

“Ahh…,” crooned the scorpion, “Because you see, once you have taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?”

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river. He swam over to the bank and settled himself near the mud to pick up his passenger. The scorpion crawled onto the frog’s back, his sharp claws prickling into the frog’s soft hide, and the frog slid into the river. The muddy water swirled around them, but the frog stayed near the surface so the scorpion would not drown. He kicked strongly through the first half of the stream, his flippers paddling wildly against the current.

Halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger from the frog’s back. A deadening numbness began to creep into his limbs.

“You fool!” croaked the frog, “Now we shall both die! Why on earth did you do that?”

The scorpion shrugged, and did a little jig on the drownings frog’s back.

“I couldn't help myself. It is my nature.”

This is a story often told in psychology classes to explain how vital is to understand the immutable nature of something. There is no point intellectualising,making excuses, and developing competing analyses – sometimes something just is what it is. We need to recognise the intrinsic nature of capitalism. It is an unfettered force that puts the values of money, profit, and the ultimate objective of economic growth above life itself. There are too many real-life examples to ignore. Unless we take steps to moderate the present capitalist system, a few unlucky people will be left sitting on a vast pile of gold upon the smoking remains of our planet.1

I closed the previous chapter with the question: What have we become? The better question is: What have we allowed ourselves to be manipulated into becoming? The growth paradigm is based on the assumption that growth means better life, therefore people must adapt. Jobs. Consumption. Production. The cycle continues.


1Adapted from an anonymous comment on Slashdot.

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