The parable of Pip

Imagine a boat full of sailors in the Caribbean Sea. They travel from island to island in search of gold and silver. Most of the sailors want to visit Puerto Rico, but they don’t have any power. The captain is the one who makes all the decisions, and he decides the boat will sail to Cuba.

The crewmen quickly grow tired of having their wishes disregarded by the captain, so they decide to throw him overboard. The sailors announce that from now on, all sailing decisions will be voted on by the crew.

This new system works much better, but one of the sailors is still unhappy. His name is Pip, and he has his heart set on visiting Jamaica. He argues with the crew about where to sail, but what can he do? They are many, and he is only one. Puerto Rico it is.

Pip is no quitter, and soon he begins thinking of other ways to get what he wants. When the crew lands at San Juan, Pip tells his shipmates that he will be taking a boat to Jamaica.

“But we don’t want to go to Jamaica!” shout his shipmates.
“Who said anything about we,” retorts Pip. “I won’t be taking your boat. I will build my own.”

Within months, Pip has built a small raft he uses to sail to whatever island he wishes, whenever he wishes, unencumbered by the will of his former crewmen.

If you thought this was an allegory, you are correct. If you thought it was an allegory about politics, you are correct again.

The political system that existed under the captain is, of course, an allusion to autocracy. The second one is an allusion to democracy. Those were easy. But what about the third system, the one in which individuals aren’t told what to do by anyone else, either by a single strongman or a large majority? That, my friends, is known as capitalism.


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