But alas one day a disaster occurred: a rainstorm washed the heap away, destroying all the order. Not a single ant died, but the Heap aka Hillary was no more.
In GEB the analogy is to processes of conciousness. But I think it works as a loose analogy between individual human beings and cultures1. We might save all the individual people from a given culture - for example, by moving them, or allowing them to move, from a war zone to some place of safety; but in the process so dilute them amongst others that their culture is lost. Or we might kill any number of people, whilst preserving the overall culture2. And so attached to their culture - mistakenly, in my opinion - are some people that they might even prefer the latter option. In our liberal-democratic way we'd like to pick both options, and save all the culture and all the people; but we've not very good when both aren't possible. In theory, I think, we would and should prioritise the individuals, preferring to treat people as individuals rather than members of tribes. But of course, what do I mean "we", White Man?
1. Spare me the tedious outrage of comparing people to ants. No, I'm not.
2. In fact this option is illusory; culture is not preserved in this circumstance, only tatters of it.
* Torture and Terrorism (2006).
* Ban it harder! An unwelcome new trend in British politics - Economist.
* The Welfare State as Extended Warranty - Bryan Caplan.
* Linda the Bank Teller Versus Freedom - Bryan again.
* The New Hereditarian Man: You Cannot Eliminate Envy by Brian Chau.