Monday, September 6, 2010


"(B)y this time, the era of cut-and-run economics ought to be finished. Such an economy cannot be rationally defended or even apologized for. The proofs of its immense folly, heartlessness, and destructiveness are everywhere. Its failure as a way of dealing with the natural world and human society can no longer be sanely denied. That this economic system persists and grows larger and stronger in spite of its evident failure has nothing to do with rationality or, for that matter, with evidence. It persists because, embodied now in multinational corporations, it has discovered a terrifying truth: If you can control a people’s economy, you don’t need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant. If you control people’s choices as to whether or not they will work, and where they will work, and what they will do, and how well they will do it, and what they will eat and wear, and the genetic makeup of their crops and animals, and what they will do for amusement, then why should you worry about freedom of speech? In a totalitarian economy, any "political liberties" that the people might retain would simply cease to matter. If, as is often the case already, nobody can be elected who is not wealthy, and if nobody can be wealthy without dependence on the corporate economy, then what is your vote worth? The citizen thus becomes an economic subject."
Wendell Berry

As fall approaches the attention out here in the rural hinterlands turns to the last things; preserving the harvest, getting the last hay from the fields, the impending hunting season, butchering animals and processing the meat that comes from them.

All this put me in mind of one of my very favorite poet-author-thinkers; Wendell Berry. His understanding of "The Great Economy" and its centrality of God and the land has always rung true to me. He understands that subsidiarity, the idea that all power and decision making should be kept at the lowest possible level, is the right and proper way of life as given us by our Creator.

From an article by John Medaille:

"Berry points out that current economics have severed all connection with the real economy, which he calls “The Great Economy.” More of that economy in a moment, but what really occupies most of our “economists,” he points out, is not really economics at all, but chrematistics. Economics (from oikonomia, “household management”) is about the material provisioning of society; chrematistics is about individuals amassing abstract wealth in the form of money, and has no necessary connection with the material well-being of society, that is, with the production of real goods and services. And although chrematistics is poorly connected to real world oikonomia, its predominance over the real economy can bring that economy down, as it has now and many times in the past. And as long as we practice chrematistics rather than real oikonomia, it will continue to bring the economy down until there is no economy left to raise up. “Our economy,” Berry notes, “has become an anti-economy, a financial system without a sound economic basis and without economic virtues.”

If we all only concern ourselves with the real economy, our homes, families and communities, everything else will fall in place. If we all take care of the little things then the big things will take care of themselves.

This agrarian view is one that Thomas Jefferson would have been completely in agreement with. 40 acres, a mule and a gun and every family their own kingdom.

In these days of 24 hour news cycles and multinational corporations most have bought into the lie of globalism and "free" markets that our political leaders, on both the right and the left shove down our throats. They expect us to believe that somehow using slave labor to supply the goods we need to retailing monopolies at the lowest possible price benefits society.

Now we find ourselves in debt to our enemies and unable to produce damned near anything here at home. Americans have lost, for the most part, our ability to create anything of value. We've bought into the lie that we could be the worlds banker, sipping lattes while our foreign slaves creat luxuries for us to buy with money that has no value. We rely on foreign fuel to run our trucks that ship us our food from all over the world. Our crops are genetically modified and our meat is something far different than it was ever intended to be, stuffed full of hormones and raised in pens filled with shit, being fed scraps of meat from its own kind, spreading disease and filth throughout the food chain.

All this because we've lost sight of the true economy.

So read a little Wendell Berry on this Labor Day and think long and hard about how your labor is used. Does it go to support the real economy or to line the pockets of the multi-nationalists? Can you change the economy? Your economy? The real economy?

Damned right you can and this weekend is a good time to start.

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