Saturday, July 24, 2010

Industrialism Cannot Be Contained

This is kind of scary, in a way, but it's become my undying conviction, that industrialism cannot be contained.

Can industrialism be contained? I'm thinking it cannot be contained, except in the sense that there is a finite space on earth for it to be. If and when it spreads to outer space, where the vastness is practically without limits, then we might be able to say literally that it cannot be contained.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, many of these issues are not a practical concern at the present moment. What we have to deal with in our own time is limited by and large to what goes on on the earth. We have concerns about the environment, for the most part because we are concerned with our continuing existence.

The impact of an uncontainable industrialism, then, has ramifications for the environment and our existence. Of course we would continue to exist, since even uncontainable industrialism still demands our existence to run it. Whether a case could be made for industrialism to create machines as both producers and consumers, and somehow we as a species were to be snuffed out and they would continue on, seems to me to be issues that, like the possible spread of industrialism in outer space, are not practical to address at this time. Suffice it to say, we can be vigilant, always keeping track of where the on/off switch is. But at this point, our continuing existence is assured if for no other reason than someone needs to be here to work the levers of industrialism.

But what kind of existence (quality of life) do we want and need? Those are relevant questions in any discussion of whether industrialism can be contained. I myself was a fervent anti-industrialist for a time, coming to these convictions fairly recently, just this April. My reaction against industrialism had to do with this very thing, the quality of life in my town. We have one of the world's major monster truck tire plants here and their pollution obscures the sky for the better part of the day. Workers routinely die before their morning break. If a child doesn't have emphysema by the time he's 10 we know he moved here late in life.

I still haven't made peace with them. But with the spread of the Residential Industrial Movement -- every man having his own industry on his land -- I've spent my energies with that. Still, as glorious as it is that every man can make and sell things, thereby bringing the price down to about nothing and making things a lot more equal, the fact that even more so it's true that industrialism cannot be contained bothers me.

My recommendation to everyone involved -- which is everyone -- is that we all keep an eye on it, knowing that in the end, time will tell.

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