Review | By Duncan Simpson / Musique Machine
szmt | PARVENU
The organicist metaphor of society as like that of bees has a long history in Western thought, predating the better known bodily metaphor – which is the foundation of modern corporational doctrine – by several centuries. Originating in Antiquity, the notion that human society should imitate nature as best it can slowly came into question during the later European middle ages, under pressure from developing mercantile economy and advances in legal and political organisation. In the modern era the hive metaphor was increasing viewed as anti-democratic, suppressive of the individual and hive-like societies almost inevitably malevolent; think of the Borg in Star Trek or caricatures of Communism (particularly Chinese) during the Cold War. Nevertheless the beehive society metaphor never entirely vanished and in the Modern period was most often invoked as an embellishment to holistic economic thought. George Cruikshank’s remarkable British Beehive image is paradigmatic in this respect, not least in its overall schematic similarity to medieval overviews of the hierarchical world such as those of Honorius of Autun. []

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