Bees again

Nothing can be understood, as Adorno said of Hegel, in isolation from the whole:

‘in the context of the whole, but with the awkward qualification that the whole in turn lives only in the individual moments. In actuality, however, this kind of doubleness of the dialectic eludes literary presentation’ (Adorno 1963 Hegel: Three Studies – in the third one)

But the thing is that we can also cite Adorno’s aphorism from Minima Moralia that ‘the whole is the untrue’, and be sure here that although Marx now reveals the secret of value, this is, also, untrue. It is neither correct except insofar as a great numb of conditioning factors are held aside, nor is it incorrect, but it certainly is in need of supplementing. Without Hegel, and I would say without Adorno to guide a reading of Hegel, there is no chance of getting Marx. Lenin says as much as well.

Adorno’s Hegel is important for example when he says that Hegel does not fall for the uncritical facade:

‘there are good reasons why the dialectic of essence and appearance is moved to the centre of the Logic. This needs to be remembered at a time when those who administer the dialectic in it’s materialist version, the official thought of the East Bloc, have debased it to an unreflective copy theory’ Adorno Three Studies p8

We should be wary of appearances for sure, but also of essences. The essentializing character of seeking out value, or the tool, or the primitive instinct, over against the essence of human creative labour as architect, even the worst architect. Mediation has to be kept alive here, as perhaps a labour of thought. It is not a middle term, but it brings thinking to life between essence and appearance, and it is a permanent confrontation, this dialectic. It is not a world view (Adorno Three Studies p9)

Marx had said of the Phenomenology, as Adorno notes, that in it Hegel had grasped the nature of labour and man as the result of his labour. This labour is social, labour as something for something, or someone, else (Adorno Three Studies p18). This is quite a thing, to suggest Hegel’s spirit is social labour

 ‘the crucial connection between the concepts of desire and Labour removes the latter from the position of a mere analogy to the abstract active of the abstract spirit. Labour in the full sense is in fact tied to desire, which it in turn negates; it satisfies the needs of human beings on all levels, helps them without their difficulties, reproduces human life, and demands sacrifices if them in turn’ (Adorno Three Studies p22)

But idealism is mistaken to turn the totality of labour into something existing in itself as metaphysical principle, as if social labour could be conceives as separate fro nature on which it depends. No nature as such either, of course, and no abstract desire. We do not talk of human nature, nor think there are universal needs.

Adorno quotes Marx on nature and labour from the Critique of the Gotha Programme, ‘labour is not the sours of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use-values’ (in Adorno Three Studies p23) even as Marx notes this is both ‘correct’ and a bourgeois children’s book phrasing that cannot be left without a comment or two about the way in which humanity works with nature and that any suggestion that nature is a basis for subordinating those who only have their labour power to sell to be compelled to sell it ‘as a slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labour’ (in Adorno Three Studies p 24)

This is followed by a critique of Hegel,s idealism in which labour is detached and becomes ideology as an inherent value. Adorno mentions the section on lord and bondsman but passes quickly rather to Hegel’s comments on religion and ‘spirit as artificer’, as labour, as an instinctive operation ‘like the building of a honeycomb by the bees’ (Hegel in Adorno Three Studies p24). To this inclusion of labour in spirit Adorno suggests ‘only a little more would be needed – remembrance of the simultaneously mediated and irrevocably natural moment of labour – and the Hegelian dialectic would reveal its identity and speak it’s own name’ (Adorno Three Studies p25)

Still, at least we can see where Marx got his interest in bees.

Hegel, in Phenomenology of Spirit, in the section on The Artificer, writes:

‘SPIRIT, therefore, here appears, as an artificer, and its action whereby it produces itself as object but without having as yet grasped the thought of itself is an instinctive operation, like the building of a honeycomb by bees

The first form, because it is immediate, is the abstract form of the Understanding, and the work is not yet in its own self filled with spirit. The crystals of pyramids and obelisks, simple combinations of straight lines with plane surfaces and equal proportions of parts, in which the incommensurability of the round is destroyed, these are the works of this artificer of rigid form. On account of the merely abstract intelligibleness of the form, the significance of the work is not in the work itself, is not the spiritual self. Thus either the works receive Spirit into them only as an alien, departed spirit that has forsaken its living saturation with reality and, being itself dead, takes up its abode in this lifeless crystal; or they have an external relation to Spirit’ p421

4 thoughts on “Bees again”

  1. “A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey. Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race. A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee’s existence. Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee. But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern. The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension.

    All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. And so it is with the purpose of historic characters and nations.”

    Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace, p. 2325


  2. Bit like this (from TSOTS):

    Hegel no longer had to interpret the world, but the transformation of the world. By only interpreting the transformation, Hegel is only the philosophical completion of philosophy. He wants to understand a world which makes itself. This historical thought is as yet only the consciousness which always arrives too late, and which pronounces the justification after the fact. Thus it has gone beyond separation only in thought. The paradox which consists of making the meaning of all reality depend on its historical completion, and at the same time of revealing this meaning as it makes itself the completion of history, flows from the simple fact that the thinker of the bourgeois revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries sought in his philosophy only a reconciliation with the results of these revolutions. Even as a philosophy of the bourgeois revolution, it does not express the entire process of this revolution, but only its final conclusion. In this sense, it is “not a philosophy of the revolution, but of the restoration” (Karl Korsch, Theses on Hegel and Revolution). Hegel did, for the last time, the work of the philosopher, “the glorification of what exists”; but what existed for him could already be nothing less than the totality of historical movement. The external position of thought having in fact been preserved, it could he masked only by the identification of thought with an earlier project of Spirit, absolute hero who did what he wanted and wanted what he did, and whose accomplishment coincides with the present. Thus philosophy, which dies in the thought of history, can now glorify its world only by renouncing it, since in order to speak, it must presuppose that this total history to which it has reduced everything is already complete, and that the only tribunal where the judgment of truth could be given is closed.


  3. Wow! 500,000 signers in just 24 hours. Sign and share this — let’s reach 2 million before tomorrow’s key meeting!

    Dear friends,

    Bees around the world are dying off and Europe’s food watchdog just said certain pesticides are part of the problem. We’ve got 24 hours before key meetings — let’s get a 2-million-person swarm to save the bees. Click to take urgent action now:

    Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But in 24 hours the European Union could move to ban the most poisonous pesticides, and pave the way to a global ban that would save bees from extinction.

    Four EU countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are already recovering. Days ago the official European food safety watchdog stated for the first time that certain pesticides are fatally harming bees. Now legal experts and European politicians are calling for an immediate ban. But Bayer and other giant pesticide producers are lobbying hard to keep them on the market. If we build a huge swarm of public outrage now, we can push the European Commission to put our health and our environment before the profit of a few.

    We know our voices count! Last year, our 1.2 million strong petition forced US authorities to open a formal consultation on pesticides — now if we reach 2 million, we can persuade the EU to get rid of these crazy poisons and pave the way for a ban worldwide. Sign the urgent petition and send this to everyone — Avaaz and leading MEPs will deliver our message ahead of this week’s key meeting in Brussels:

    Bees don’t just make honey, they are vital to life on earth, every year pollinating 90% of plants and crops — with an estimated $40bn value and over one-third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees, many of our favourite fruits, vegetables, and nuts could vanish from our shelves.

    Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are already extinct and some US species are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers and now the European Food Safety Authority is saying that toxic chemicals called neonicotinoid pesticides could be responsible for the bee deaths. France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, have banned one of these bee-killing pesticides. But Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.

    Now the issue is coming to a boil. EU parliamentarians are stepping up their pressure on the European Commission and key governments to push new legislation to ban the deadly pesticides, and we can offer them the public support they need to counter the powerful pesticide lobby. Sign the urgent petition to Europe’s leaders, then forward this email widely:

    Our world is beset with threats to what makes it habitable, and to what fills it with wonder. The Avaaz community comes together to defend both — large or small. Whether winning a battle to keep the International Whaling Commission from sanctioning the murder of these giants, or saving bees, the tiny creatures upon which so much depends, we will come together and stand up for the world we all want.

    With hope,

    Luis, Ari, Alice, Iain, Ricken, David, Alaphia, and the Avaaz team


    Pesticides pose danger to bees (European Voice)


  4. Ontario Beekeepers’ Association

    Dutch Parliament votes to ban all neonicotinoid pesticide uses in the Netherlands

    18th March 2014

    Neonicotinoids are dangerous to bees and other pollinators and are a primary cause of the massive bee deaths . A majority of the Court today rallied behind motions of the Animal Welfare Party for a national ban on the use of this insecticide in agriculture and retail sales . Neonicotinoids are relatively new agricultural poisons which have a disastrous effect on bees. These insecticids are thousands of times more toxic than DDT . The Party for Animal Welfare has been campaigning for many years against the neonicotinoids .

    In early 2013 a parliamentary majority endorsed a motion of Esther Ouwehand for a partial European ban on the pesticides . Due to this motion is the use of three types of neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam in all 27 countries of the EU is now restricted. However, the European ban on neonicotinoids only applies to selected crops which are attractive to bees; this means that most uses of the neonicotinoids on cereal crops for example, remains unchanged : as much as 80 % of crops which are treated with neonicotinoids in the Netherlands remain unaffected by the EU ban. Thus our country remains among the top three European countries with the highest use of pesticides in farming, and bee mortality is extremely high in Holland . The Animal Welfare Party has therefore, urged the Secretary of State, Herr Dijksma to secure further restrictions in pesticide use. The Secretary of State refused, and wanted to leave the partial European ban just as it was, with neonicotinoids only being banned on ‘bee attractive crops’ like sunflowers, canola and maize.

    Today the Dutch Parliament forced Secretary of State Dijksma to take further action. A majority of political parties: PvdA , SP, GL , D66 , 50 + and Freedom Party, endorsed two motions of Esther Ouwehand, namely that ALL neonicotinoids should be banned in the Netherlands for all uses in agriculture, domestic gardens and landscape uses. The motion which was passed also demanded a complete ban on a related systemic pesticide, Fipronil. This Parliamentary success is not only important for the survival of the bee and other pollinators; it is also of great importance for human public health. Scientists increasingly point out the dangers of neonicotinoids for people’s health . The proposer of the Motion Esther Ouwehand said:
    “This is a major breakthrough in the fight against bee deaths. HWe have ave always stressed the public interest of maintaining a healthy agriculture and a diversity of wildlife. Hitherto the political lobbying of the Pesticide Industry have ensured that the actions of the European Union were but a drop in the ocean. Today, the House of Parliament has taken real action to protect Bees and human health.”

    Pollination of crops by bees is essential for nNture and for our own food . Toxic pesticides such as neonicotinoids , threaten the survival of this vital link in our ecosystem . Besides the use of pesticides , bees are also threatened by the lack of sufficiently varied food-sources: their habitat of wild flowers has been destroyed ad there is less food is available for bees. The Parliamentary Motion was proposed by Member of Parliament Esther Ouwehand with Gerard Schouw ( D66 ). A second motion demanding a new Eco-friendly roadside management policy was also supported and passed by a majority of the House today.

    motions :
    – Motion Ouwehand others on the use of neonicotinoids
    – Motion Ouwehand a fully national moratorium
    – Motion Ouwehand / Schouw about ecological and by rien immoral nature and roadside management
    Motion Put to the Dutch parliment: Moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids 15-11-2012 The Chamber, heard the deliberations, noting that the relationship between the use of neonicotinoids on the one hand and the high mortality of bees and the occurrence of brain damage in children on the other hand cannot be excluded, calls on the Dutch Government to impose a moratorium on the use of all neonicotinoids, until it is established that neonicotinoids do not have a harmful effect on bees and human health, and proceeds to the order of the day. Ouwehand Van Gerven chimney Status: Adopted 18.03.2014 For: PvdD, SP, PvdA, GL, D66, 50 +, PVV By: VVD, CU, CDA, SGP, Bontes


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