Friday, 1 October 2010

So what do you produce today? Or were you just a busy bee?

I have been practising at being a "poseure" today, sitting around reading Philosophie magazine which has a great dossier all about Voltaire but also a fun set of interviews about "une journée réussie" - what would constitute a perfect or successful day for you?
However what really caught my eye and attention was a very short notice about a book by economist Yann Moulier Boutang called L'abeille et l'économiste - the bee and the economist. What set me thinking was the idea that the actual contribution of bees to the economy does not come through what they produce - honey and wax, prized though these may be - but through polination. Through the activity of bees the whole of nature is fertilised, polinated, made fecund ... essential for the whole of life.
Boutang then uses this image of the bee to formulate ideas around cognitive capitalism and to illustrate the possibilities of moving from an economy of exchange and production to what he calls "an economy of polination and contribution".
I think what appealed to me about this image was how it could also offer an approachable for how indefinable things like trust, confidence and respect can be seen to work in systems and organisations. It's also a way of valuing the unseen work of relationship building and making life happen. So much for my passing holiday thoughts.

In an interview here, and the extract below in French, Boutang talks about the reasons that he chose the bee including that it features in Mandeville's fable of the bees. The bee also symbolises the destruction of the biosphere - uniformisation of crops is having a huge impact upon their health and survival.

J’ai choisi l’abeille pour trois raisons. Tout d’abord parce qu’elle est, avec la cigale et la fourmi, l’insecte qui a servi largement de parabole fondatrice de l’économie politique classique. Dans sa Fable des abeilles (1714), Mandeville a osé dire : les vices privés font les vertus publiques, alors que l’économie de matrice grecque et chrétienne affirmait que les vertus privées font les vertus publiques et qu’un bon prince fait le bien de ses sujets. Nous avons ensuite découvert que la valeur économique réelle des abeilles ne réside pas dans leur production – le miel et la cire –, mais dans leur rôle dans la pollinisation. Cette dernière vaut entre 100 et 350 fois plus que le produit marchand. En ces temps de crise écologique, l’abeille symbolise la destruction de la biosphère et notre intervention barbare dans l’environnement ; la destruction des jachères mellifères, les insecticides, l’uniformisation des cultures la touchent terriblement. Or sans abeilles, plus de pollinisation, sans pollinisation, plus de vie.


Mavis said...

I like it. My word verification for this comment is 'ailing' - very apt description of our current economic system

Jane said...

You know of course that Australia's bees are the only ones in the whole world that are not affected by the virus? Exporting healthy bees is big business