The financier and the imagined welfare queen do the same thing—they tap “rightful” or “natural” relationships to their own ends. They don’t redistribute, because they’re not interested in what’s fair. Instead parasitism combines occupation and diversion; it reminds us that there is a third form of relationship that is neither participating nor opting out, neither eliminating nor redistributing, but repurposing.
It would be a shame to let the political and social valences of the term “parasite” surpass their conceptual limits and pass into oblivion. Redirecting already asymmetrical relationships, the parasite—both social and biological— can help us re-imagine not simply social or political structures, but relationships: if we accept and are willing to become the parasite, we are always willing to accept and become something outside of but dependent on social coherence and organization. For the parasite takes from its host without ever taking its place; it creates new room, feeding off excess, sometimes killing, but often strengthening its milieu.
- Jeanette Samyn, “Anti-Anti Parasitism,” from The New Inquiry No. 8: Other Animals