Part I of this series offered a glimpse of the corporations who control so much of life nowadays; Part II will explore what industrialism/corporatism has done for the average adult in the
. united States
As Allan Carlson explained in his presentation to the ISI conference (see earlier post, ‘Toward Christian Economics’), in traditional societies most families are fairly self-sufficient. But when the ideology of industrialism intrudes, most become quite dependent on the big conglomerates to provide them their necessities in exchange for labor.
This is borne out by the numbers.
In the united States, farmers amount to less than one percent of the population (2.2 million out of 313 million), with three-fifths of all crop sales coming from only about 188,000 of that 2.2 million.
This is a dangerous condition for any people. First and foremost, it takes one of the most basic necessities out of our control. If no food made it to the grocery store shelves for a month or more, how many would fare well? Second, even if it does continue to arrive in a timely manner, there is still the quality of the food to consider. Many of our chronic illnesses are due to various pesticides, dyes, preservatives, flavorings, etc. added to the produce of factory farms, whether at the farm or during processing.
With so few people able to make a living off the land, many millions are forced to sell our labor to others, some to small businesses, many more to oversized businesses. The stats: ‘Some 19.6 million Americans work for companies employing fewer than 20 workers, 18.4 million work for firms employing between 20 and 99 workers, and 14.6 million work for firms with 100 to 499 workers. By contrast, 47.7 million Americans work for firms with 500 or more employees.’
Only 9.2 million Americans are now self-employed.
Thus, we have lost much of our day-to-day freedom in order to work for the new masters of society (big industrial businesses - or their dependencies - of one kind or another). This would be bad enough, but it is made the worse by the fact that the work is often dull, monotonous, lacking creativity, and hazardous to the workers’ health (e.g., chemical exposure, repetitive motion, too much sitting, not enough time outdoors in the sunlight).
When joy is therefore divorced from work as it is in many places in the States, people try to make up for this by buying - buying movies, buying food, buying phones, buying cars. Or by indulging in some of the other vices encouraged by business advertising. The endless cycle of producing and consuming is thus established, covetousness and envy become the foundation of the economy, and new products must be introduced and new markets must be opened continuously (subjecting ever more people in the world to the destructive effects of industrialism) in order to keep the whole system afloat
This is NOT the incarnation of Christianity in the realm of economics. It is truly an evil system that chains us to this world, blinds us to spiritual reality, denies free will and the idea of God-given vocation, and encourages the worship of money rather than the All-Holy Trinity. Of these things we must repent, removing ourselves, our families, and our villages and towns as much as possible from the industrialized/globalized economy, and dedicating ourselves anew to living uncomfortably in this world, to preparing every day for the eternal life to come, that we might have a good defense at the Dread Judgment of Christ.