The tale of the itsy-bitsy spider is a well-known rhyme, repeated often for its simple cadence and its unobjectionable content. What many don't realize is that this juvenile story mindlessly chanted by generations of children was woven to perpetuate complacency within a capitalistic hierarchy. A closer look at each line individually will reveal the inherent classism that draws a line between effort and achievement.
The itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout
Indeed the poem begins with a seemingly innocuous description of an unassuming creature. However, the descriptor given to our arachnid hero is one that indicates smallness. Indeed, he represents the little man, the poor working class who must toil for a living and whose voice is stifled by those with the resources to keep him quiet. Additionally, the particular word used is a patronizingly childish synonym; one can feel the superiority of the narrator emanating from the chosen vernacular.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
The rain is a clear metaphor for the upper class, quite literally using their power to keep the lower classes down. After all, if everyone may be allowed to ascend to the lofty heights of bourgeoise prosperity, then none are left on earth to toil the fields and work the assembly lines.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain
Ah! A moment of false optimism has risen from above the murky horizon. What our little spider does not realize is that a change in circumstance is not a guarantee of progress. This line is the most important of the four, as it inspires the spider with hope to try again, and hope is the fuel on which the machine of enterprise culture must run. And yet: the storm clouds still lurk just beyond the field of vision of his eight compound eyes, patiently waiting for another opportunity for a downpour.
And the itsy-bitsy spider went up the spout again.
Alas, poor spider. He has fallen not only down the spout, but also into the trap of capitalism. Doomed for all time with a Sisyphean task, he has not the knowledge that his climb to to the top will once again leave him starting from nothing.
Children are meant to admire the perseverance of the spider, for he is a mirror to the proletariat. They shall grow to work without complaint, to falsely believe that they can be more than they are, and to do the same thing over again without a beat of hesitation. We must teach our young sons and daughters that they are not spiders who try to make progress for themselves in a system not built for them. They are the builders of the spout, and it may be time for the installation of an updated model.