The Invisible Hand

The term coined by Adam Smith in his ´Wealth of Nations´ to describe the process of capitalist economics.

The invincible God of the Invisible Hand
Is oft portrayed as gold winged Mercury.
But He is, in fact, a two faced God of two left hands.
His golden face smiles down, in beatitude,
Upon his servants, within whose minds he dwells,
And on whose loom of abstract faith he is sustained and lives.
His unseen, golden hand dispenses soothing luxury,
Without rational measure, or just proportion.
His second face contains a single blinded eye,
Set within a heedless rictus,
No human ever sees but lives to tell;
The invisible face of the God of the Invisible Hand.
His second hand is bone, white flayed,
With which he dispenses dust and shadow,
Bringing awful thunder, but never rain.

In the tallest towers of his rapid, gleaming cities,
At each day´s closing bell, his votaries,
Those who carve the golden calf,
And count the dreams of all the world´s endeavours,
Draw up the books of whom today has won or lost.
The ancients called these workings fortune,
Though we now know them to be a brute, deterministic sum,
Calculable in principle, but outside of practical possibility.

Far away, in distant, skewed antipodes,
Where insects chitter in ordure´d mire or desert´s edge,
Earth´s most wretched peoples wait for the world´s end,
To come to their doors and claim them.
When it does they will fall off the world, and out into cold space,
Their soundless screams absorbed into the engulfing night,
Their traces unpicked from history,
Undreamed from the web of human mattering.
Their names recorded in no ledger, unless there be at work
Some more remote and watchful God.

Those who sit between these wide extremes,
The little folk in their little houses,
Forget to say uneasy prayers of thanks to the God,
Who has granted them one more night,
Of food upon their tables, warm, dry sleep,
And more or less of little comforts.
Oblivious, by happy choosing,
To all the unseen consequence
That guarantees their gross good-fortune.
All that they decline to know must be, and cannot change.
Glad just that whate´er was done
Was done to someone else, and not to them.

So we let the God decide for us each day;
Who shall work, who shall eat;
Who shall make the stuff we need,
And all the piles of stuff we don´t need;
And who gets to carry it home, into their houses.
Who exists or who subsists;
Dwells in blessed comfort or thoughtless opulence.

Having chosen the way of the invincible God,
We live by light of his unquestioned dogma;
That some distant few must e´er be sacrificed,
That the many, who are near, shall know
The most degrees of freedom.

All praise the God of the Invisible Hand!

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009