Throughout this summer, dull rain fell
On strangely blighted chestnut trees.
Banks have collapsed, and I have pondered
Mandeville's 'Fable of the Bees'.
Mandeville saw selfishness
Impel each member of the hive.
None thought about the common good,
And yet the common good would thrive.
The system works; no bee need be
More saintly than bees care to be.
If each pursues his selfish goal,
The hive will buzz efficiently.
Yet now I read of colonies
Collapsing, and deserted hives,
And fruit unpollinated. Our
From one strange crisis lurch towards the next.
We live in sub-prime times.
What caused all this entanglement?
Incompetence? Mischance? Crimes?
And what will help to get us free?
Well, probably not rhymes.
Bernard Mandeville (1670 – 1733) was a philosopher who questioned the moralistic tradition of political thought. His fable showed a virtuous society falling into apathy and paralysis, whereas vices and greed led to a dynamic society full of fruitful interaction.
Private vices, he argued, produce public benefits.
If you have any comments on this poem, George Simmers would be
pleased to hear them.