Idea #24: Anarcho-capitalist spider silk production

I am right in thinking that you would be happy to make more money than you can possibly imagine and change the world forever. Don’t deny it – I know I am right.

Given this, you would be a fool not to concentrate your every waking minute on finding JUST ONE WAY to produce spider silk on a mass scale. That is all you have to do: just one way. Why is that so hard? Don’t try to pretend you haven’t already considered it. You just considered it lazily.

We are all familiar with the old wives tales about the properties of spider silk relative to steel (five times stronger), Kevlar (twice as strong) and mozarella (just as stretchy). I won’t force these facts upon you as if you’re a 3-year-old child. We all know this already. We all know it’s the colour of gold.

– oh, what, you didn’t know it was gold? Oh, yes…

Spider silk fabric

More accurately, the silk of the Golden Silk Orb-Weaver spider is gold. It had to be, really. And, yes, that nice little piece of cloth up there is what you get if you put these boys to work. A million of them.

But before you rush out to get a spider silk shirt, hear this: you will be frustrated in your efforts. There is only that one bit of cloth in the world, and that, presumably, is not going to be made into your shirt, unless you are the King of Jordan (I understand he’s a regular reader), in which case it most probably will be. Congratulations, sir.

In fact, you will find the high street shops distinctly bereft of spider silk products. No body armour, no artificial ligaments, no building materials. No fishing line. None of the things you wanted.

That is what we like to hear…

Idea #24: Anarcho-capitalist spider silk production

You will already realise that something’s up here. Spider silk is a wonder material, yet nobody is mass producing it. We can do it with silk worms, what’s going on?

Basically, silk worms will happily sit together in a trough. Spiders, on the other hand, fight. They fight to the death.

Now, there are two potential solutions here. One, I would say, is the easy way. The other I would call the hard way.

  1. The easy way: find a better way to farm spiders.
  2. The hard way: splice spider genes into goats so that goats produce spider silk protein in their milk, then weave the milk into fabric.

Surprisingly, scientists seem to have chosen the hard way. It’s not the decision I would have made, but I suppose it was their call.

Goat peering through spider web

Guys, listen, this is not the way

What I would have done is chosen the easy way. I believe that if we take various leaves out of the books of Epson, and Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin, we may have a solution on our hands. No, it’s not more complicated than the goat thing, honestly.

The problem with farming spiders is not that spiders can’t be farmed per se, it’s that you can’t pile them all in together. The problem is with attempts at centralized farming. Enter Mihail Alexandrovich Bakunin, the great anarchist theorist and critic of centralization. Following his lead, rather than creating a factory and filling it to the brim with spiders (it would be madness to do such a thing), you will seek to establish a network of micro-farming units, each with only a few spiders easily found in a nearby bush, for free.

Like, you will offer to pay cash for every sample of spiders web sent to you. Some fly-by-nights may just go by the light of the moon to a nearby haunted house and harvest spider webs thus for some easy money, while shrewder punters will groom local spiders and invest in a spider web extraction machine. Yes, such machines do exist – they were used on a large scale to produce the aforementioned priceless fabric – and they don’t harm the spiders. Phew. Here’s one in action:

Of course, like Epson, you will also sell the extraction machines for a knock-down price, safe in the knowledge that this investment will be returned to you many times over when you develop a monopoly on spider silk production.

You’ll establish a small industrial loom in your garage and weave the webs into thread 96 filaments thick, and weave the threads into pieces of priceless golden fabric, or artificial ligaments.

And then you will be the richest person ever and have changed the world. – get it now.

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