Sunday, March 30, 2008

Our Economy

According to the experts, our economy is not doing well right now, but I don’t think it has been doing well for a long time. It all depends from what viewpoint you look at our economy. From my standpoint, our economy was terrible in the supposedly good years of the Clinton administration, and it is terrible now. What do I base that assessment on? Our economic system is anti-family. Although many modern Christians, who are not Christians, think a family can be anything at all – two women, two men, etc. – the Christian family is only one thing: it is a patriarchal family. And by this I do not mean the 1950s patriarchal family in which the father earns the money, plays catch on Saturdays, and leaves the education of the children to the State. Nor is the patriarchal family the one envisioned by the Muslims wherein femininity itself is seen as evil.

I refer to the patriarchy described by St. Paul:

Wives, submit yourselves until your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.
And to the patriarchy described by Katrina, the repentant shrew:

A woman mov’d is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee
All non-Christian patriarchies, like those of the Muslims, take the first part of St. Paul’s injunction, “Wives submit,” and leave out the second part, “Husbands, love your wives.”

What then is so anti-patriarchal about our present economic system? The unskilled male (and by unskilled, I mean unskilled in the latest technology) cannot, if he can find work at all, support a wife and children on the wages doled out by the capitalist financiers. We are constantly told how the average family income is going up, but the average family income is only going up because it is taken as a given that the wife as well as the husband must work for wages. Often the man has two minimum wage jobs and the woman at least one. “And why not?” asks the capitalist. “Are we not all economic units who live to serve the market Moloch?”

We are quickly going back to those evil days (halcyon days, to the capitalist) when children and women worked in the “satanic mills” because they could be gotten cheaper than men.

Following the logic of capitalism always leads to the transformation of human beings with family, racial, national, and religious bonds, into single digit economic units without ties to any religious, family, or racial group. Theoretically one can do what one wants in one’s “free” time, but how can one raise a family when denied the means to do so, or when one must spend one’s entire waking existence fighting for the minimum material needs of one’s family?

One of the biggest lies told by the free-market conservatives is that they are pro-family. How can the advocates of a market society that makes no distinction between parent and child, illegal immigrant and native-born, male and female, be pro-family? Only the communists, those children of the capitalists, have been as consistently anti-family as the free-market conservatives.

And what about the labor unions? Have not they, with the support of the churches, been a humanizing influence on capitalism? Yes, they have, but the churches, along with labor, made a crucial error. They sold their birthright for a large pot of lentils. Capitalism is an intrinsically evil system; it cannot be humanized. In exchange for a share of the capitalists’ booty, labor joined the diabolists, thinking they could sup with the devil with impunity. But the capitalists have gone global in their unremitting war against labor. The no-borders policy has killed the small farmer, and the ‘move-the-plant-to-Mexico-or-China’ policy is destroying labor.

There should be no compromise with capitalism. It must be replaced from without, not temporized with from within. Father Luigi Ligutti, the leader of the Catholic agrarian movement, always stressed that you could not teach your children good solid family values and then send them out into the anti-family capitalist world. The vast majority of children will become what the world is – which is why Father Ligutti stressed the need for a Christian agrarian world in which Christian children would stay pro-family and Christian.

Now those men who have made it in the capitalist world, the diesel engine types like Josiah Bounderby of Coketown and Rush Limbaugh of conservative fame, will assert that the capitalist system is the very best possible system and that only envious ‘sickies’ (see Ernest Van den Haag’s book, Capitalism: Sources of Hostility in which he asserts precisely that), who can’t ‘cut the mustard’ criticize capitalism. But the diesel engine types achieve their success at the cost of others’ livelihoods and at the cost of their own souls. And even many of the diesel engines must worry about losing their high tech jobs to lower paid techies from another country. After all, the “free” market is no respecter of persons.

Our economy fails to support the patriarchal family, and it also fails on another important level. The work done in our economy kills the souls of the men and women doing the work. The family farm has been replaced by the large, corporate farm, and the family cobbler has become a factory worker in a Payless Shoe Store. But lest we despair, we are told that there are plenty of jobs left at MacDonald’s and Taco Bell. Even the high tech jobs that pay well generally consist of making products that are unnecessary, and then convincing people that they will die without them. The type of lying that goes on to sell useless products, which has become second nature to us, debases our culture. C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers were the last people I’ve read who still talked about the soulless nature of work in the 20th century. If a man works at his computer for a company that makes replacement buttons for tuxedoes, or if another man works in a factory putting one piece of machinery into a machine with thousands of parts, will either man really have a soul left at the end of his working life? Or if a woman is forced to work outside the home and devote her energies to serving millions every day at MacDonald’s, will she still be able to claim a soul that is her own?

The ultimate dream of the capitalist is to wake up in the morning, walk out on his balcony, and see an array of Wal-Marts, hamburger franchises, corporate farms, and ball-bearing factories, all owned by him and controlled by him through the Internet. He will also be a supporter of family values, in the broadminded sense of the term, of course.

We have lived with the notion that there are only two economic systems, communism and capitalism, for so long that we forget that both ‘isms’ are relatively new. Frank Owsley’s work on the pre-Civil War South and Walter Scott’s various historical books and historical novels all give us glimpses of societies that at least attempted to arrange their economic lives as if the Christian God had once visited this earth.
“The national dustmen, after entertaining one another with a great many noisy little fights among themselves, had dispersed for the present, and Mr. Gradgrind was at home for the vacation.

“He sat writing in the room with the deadly statistical clock, proving something no doubt—probably, in the main, that the Good Samaritan was a Bad Economist.”

--Charles Dickens in Hard Times

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