Virgil and the communist ideal of the bees
Next I'll speak about the celestial gift of honey from the air
By Nicolas Bonnal
The destruction of the bees is certainly one of the most important facts of this interesting yet gloomy era: I would say that their programmed extermination has even theological, philosophical and political resonances. It definitively marks the triumph of the Beast, the exhaustion of the sources of life, as wrote Dostoyevsky about railroads.
The bees offered us since the antiquity a perfect example of a harmonic, communist, rigorous and creative society whose goal was the creation of a magical substance, named by the Greeks the food of the gods (ambrosia). And we are now driven into the American matrix, under the sinister law of the cockroaches, the spider and the drones. I think we can use this insect-based terminology to understand today's challenges: the bee or the cockroach, the bee or the drone. To bee or not bee, that is the question.
Since the fall of the wall, and little earlier, we have no right to dream of another world, to speak like Rimbaud. We are condemned to live like cockroaches in shopping malls, subways, fake Disney parks and dark suburbs, wasting one third of our life in traffic, one other third on the...web, waiting for the fall of the euro or, if we are Muslims, of a... drone. This is why I refer to Virgil to let you understand what must be the bases of a true society.
Virgil was painted on icons; he was revered in all Christianity, considered a prophet, a magus or a wise. He was certainly a scientist, knowing everything about medicine, warfare, astronomy, agriculture. This is why his works were so popular: not because they served as homework, yet because they were useful.
The best part of famous Georgics is consecrated to the bees. The bees offer Virgil a magnificent and adamant way to propose his ideal, quite platonic society: for the society of the bees is both warrior and pacific, virtuous and prosperous, communist and monarchic. Thus began the poet:
I'll tell you in proper sequence about the greatest spectacle of the slightest things, and of brave generals, and a whole nation's customs and efforts, tribes and battles.
Virgil speaks in very moderns of his wonderful little society: he speaks of leaders (reges, kings, in Latin) will of the masses and great conflicts:
But if on the other hand they've gone out to fight - because often discord, with great turmoil, seizes two leaders: and immediately you may know in advance the will of the masses and, from far off, how their hearts are stirred by war... The leaders themselves in the middle of their ranks, conspicuous by their wings, have great hearts in tiny breasts, determined not to give way until the victor's might has forced these here, or those there, to turn their backs in flight.
Virgil thinks that a good army and a good leader are necessary, especially in time of new World disorder, to a people of his own. Yet the main goal of a great nation is to work, and even the bees' will can weaken; so the poet estimates that sometimes it is necessary to change the king, and he barely proposes to wipe out his wings!
But when the swarms fly aimlessly, and swirl in the air, neglecting their cells, and leaving the hive cold, you should prevent their wandering spirits from idle play.
It's no great effort to stop them: tear the wings from the leaders: while they linger no one will dare to fly high or take the standards from the camp.
In the georgics, it is obvious that Virgil celebrates nature, not urban life, and that he likes Rome as ideal, not reality. His ideal is the communist society or the bees, a society run by responsible and replaceable kings -or leaders. And the bees also are good mothers and good patriots:
They alone hold children in common: own the roofs of their city as one: and pass their life under the might of the law. They alone know a country and a settled home...
Under the swift rule of the kings, the bee's society divides the jobs, like every good society (not the American: actors become presidents, secret agents secretaries of state, businessmen ambassadors...). Some supervise the gathering of food, others lay the foundations of the comb, others lead the mature young, and there are those whose lot is to guard the gates, and keep the idle crowd of drones away from the hive.
This enemy-word, drone, is fascinating, given the sinister role of the drones in today's American wars and cryptocracy (two thousand, three thousand victims in Afghanistan and Pakistan these last years?). Virgil still attacks other creatures, all figuring on the Hollywood stars' agenda, like the fierce hornet, the dread race of moths, or the spider, hated by Minerva, who hangs her loose webs in the entrances.
I cannot quote all the song. It merely contains 600 verses and is easily available.
We understand thus how this great genius, a companion of the first imperator, can inspire us for the twenty-first century. His recommendations, his ideals, his models are course out of touch for actual western elites... But who knows, Virgil finishes up his song explaining how an experienced bee-master can recreate, from a calf's corpse, a wonderful colony of bees.
Two remarks: concerning the bees, I surely know the infamous fable of the bees, a repugnant parabola on liberal society, which promotes all the contrary of Virgil's principles in perverted Georgian society. And I ardently recommend the reading of Virgil's death by Hermann Broch, a forgotten masterwork of past century literature.
I let the genius open our minds:
They collect their children in their mouths themselves from leaves,
and sweet herbs, provide a new leader and tiny citizens themselves,
and remake their palaces and waxen kingdoms.