Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Crook, the Bees, their Hive & its Haters (a fable)

The bees work day and night to make their honey, and they share it out fairly. No one takes a lot more than others, certainly not to the extent that anyone would be left to starve.

Along comes a crook.

He says he can strategically expand the market for honey and increase the returns on the bees’ labour. By which he means he will take 90% of the honey, sell it and keep all the proceeds as his profit. When the bees ask what they get from the deal, they are told they get to keep 10% of their honey, which apparently is more than the going rate at many hives now under the control of other crooks, or ‘owners’, as they prefer to call themselves.

Some of the bees ask if they should organise themselves to negotiate a better deal with the ‘owner’. Others cry out that the man doesn’t own anything, he’s just a crook and should be chased away. Quite a few bees, however, are not keen on either approach, and propose that if they work even harder, they may get to keep 11% of their honey.

As arguments ripple through the hive, a few angry bees that had been trained by the crook enter. They call themselves ‘true bees’ – a number of them even have it tattooed all over their bodies. They declare that true bees love the Great Bee in the sky, love the Yellow & Black Flag, & love freedom and enterprise. When asked what that’s supposed to mean, they reply that it means they should hate the smaller bees, hate bees with a darker complexion, hate bees with rainbow-colour wings, and pick on them all as much as possible.

“Why?” the bees ask.

“Because”, the ‘true bees’ explain, “they are a disgrace. They are to be blamed for everything. If you don’t get enough to eat, it’s their fault. If you haven’t got enough space to live, it’s their fault. Just sting the hell out of them, and you will feel a lot better.”

Some of the bees start to intimidate other bees, and find themselves filled with a sense of righteous elation. And they call themselves ‘true bees’ too.

But the majority of bees are disgusted by this behaviour. And when the crook cuts their share of their own honey down to 5%, they call for unity to oust the man.

Unfortunately, the crook has managed to direct more ‘true bees’ to defend his control over the hive. These creatures, bordering on derangement, now routinely attack other bees. They most viciously target those bees that try to point out that the real enemy is the crook.

In time, the hive continues to weaken through its growing divisions. It makes less and less honey. Eventually, the crook plans to set it on fire because it is worth more to him as a one-off cheap source of energy than an ‘unprofitable cost centre’.

At last, even the ‘true bees’ realise they have been duped, and uniting with other bees, turn their wrath on the crook.

But is it all too late?

[My thanks to Peter Greenaway’s for calling his film, ‘The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’, otherwise this piece might have been titled ‘Honey, it’s all been stolen’.]

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