The Nesting Instinct

The Nesting Instinct


It was an old country, hundreds of years behind the times, and a small group of young people in the capital began agitating for reform. They themselves lived on little, and spent their time finding out the vested interests and centres of inertia that kept their country backward, and exposing them in little duplicated leaflets. An important factor in their growing success was the examples they cited of other countries which had successfully reformed. Others began to join them.

The Home Minister sent a private message to them, T am a supporter of your ideas, but cannot declare myself for you publicly; I can help you better by remaining at my post. But I can arrange for the transfer to you of a house with a considerable estate and several cottages; it is a bit outside the capital and rather tumble-down, but you could get it straight and then have a proper centre. Moreover there is an old disused printing press in the basement which you could repair and get going, and there are big stocks of old numbers of foreign magazines, which would help you with your propaganda. The price would be merely nominal.’

The group discussed it and joyfully agreed. They moved in, and found that the place was indeed tumble-down and neglected. However they worked hard to make a couple of cottages livable, and to make the main house an administrative centre where they could also study the literature; two of them began to learn the foreign languages in which it was mainly written. The printing press was a problem, but they gradually came to understand it and began to search for spare parts for this old model.

In the capital less was heard of their movement, but the Cabinet came to know of their new centre, and were worried what would happen when they got it organized. ‘How did they get hold of such a place?’ The Home Minister reassured them: ‘I arranged for them to have it.’

 ‘Are you mad? It will be a splendid centre for them; previously they had nothing. Once they get it going . .

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘they will never get it going. They have to work hard to keep up the place, and they are improving the gardens now. Some of them have taken jobs to get money to pay for the materials. Those two will take years to learn the foreign languages, and it will take a life-time to get the printing press going, because spare parts for that old model are no longer made. They still mouth their slogans, but the means have become the end; they are marrying and settling in the rent-free cottages. The nesting instinct has taken over.’

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