Monday, September 06, 2010

On Labor

HERESY CREATES PROBLEMS, and since even heretics are often decent enough men, they seek ways to fix those problems — just as long as the solutions don't require them to repudiate their original erroneous opinion. New heresies are born, or rather, they are revived, and so new problems are created, which leads to new solutions to fix these problems, which creates new problems in turn. The plight of labor under the current regime is understandably chaotic.

But we must not be under any illusions. We were promised, due to Original Sin, that
“...cursed is the earth in your work: with labour and toil shall you eat thereof all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the herbs of the earth. In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread till you return to the earth out of which you were taken: for dust you are, and into dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3)
Labor, we must expect, will never be pleasant and without its burdens. But we have been redeemed, and we ought to expect that this redemption — if we cooperate with it — will make even difficult burdens light.  But contemporary man does not believe in a Redeemer, nor the need to be redeemed; he seeks comfort and complains greatly under burdens — although he often does not mind placing burdens upon other people.

Two things that ensured a just economic order were wiped out with the rise of heresy: subsistence farming and the guild system. These ancient, organic, and very Catholic systems allowed families to be self-suffient in an orderly and stable society, and both systems had the now-unusual circumstance that the owners of the businesses were also the primary workers, who controlled their own conditions of work and had a direct influence in the regulation of the market. It was the absolutists and revolutionaries, heretics all, who ended both systems by violence, due either to greed or by a mistaken idealism, or both.

Labour Day, as observed in the old British Commonwealth countries, celebrates the eight hour work day. But is eight hours of work, eight hours of leisure, and eight hours of rest, with a two-week paid vacation something to celebrate?  Do not forget that the people of Christendom had the time available to go on pilgrimage to Walsingham, Rome, Santiago de Compostela, or even Jerusalem — on foot — and could offer week-long marriage celebrations, and pray the entire Hours of the Divine Office every day.  For the most part, their lives and work were their own, and they could allocate their time as they saw fit. They chose the better part.

If things are so much better now, then why are people so unhappy? Perhaps it is because they have little control over their lives.

Heretics, ancient and contemporary, love slavery. Even if not actual chattel slavery — although they most certainly did love it— they still love great conscript armies sending revolution to distant lands, high burdensome taxes, and people who are willing to give up their entire lives for work, or are willing not to work in exchange for political support. This is also the root of the current immigration problem in the Western world. They simply cannot rest knowing that there are people who aren't working for them. They cannot bear to let others earn their own living.

2 comments:

  1. Mark, an experiment:

    Take a sample of the people from any street, in any town. How many (even in the slums) can you find who are willing to exchange what they have today for what they had 100 years ago -- much less 650 years ago?

    Yes, there are a lot of unhappy people around. Yes, the ruling elite continually seeks to exploit those who are less prosperous than they. Yes they still send conscript/bribed armies to dominate other people. Yes, sin and heresy abound (still). But so it alwsys has been. It was as true in the days of subsistence farming and guilds as it is today. Didn't Leo XIII address the issue nearly 120 years ago? Sorry, a Golden Age never has been.

    (By the way, there is no immigration problem.)

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  2. I wouldn't want to live in any other time than this time. This is where I was planted, and of course, any attempt to artificially recreate some worthier age is doomed to failure. The Reformation was an attempt to recreate an era which never existed, and some Progressives - I'm thinking of the old back-to-nature movement and some present-day Environmentalists - seem to be doing the same thing.

    But your argument of temporal indifferentism is easy to refute. People have always been unhappy? Yes, but never more miserable than today. Suicide rates have gone up something like 60% in the past half century, and is the leading cause of death for youth. The more heretical a culture is the higher the suicide rate --- it is quite high for more libertarian cultures and is the highest yet in socialists countries. People do not kill themselves because they are happy.

    On the contrary, the countries with the very lowest rates -- drastically lower -- are those which are closest to orthodoxy, and are primarily those which are overwhelmingly practicing and faithful Catholic or Muslim.

    Do not forget that socialism - even more than libertarianism or capitalism - promises the idea of a paradise on earth. True Christianity makes no such promise of paradise either in this world or in the next. Yet people are objectively and provably happier.



    Regarding immigration, I assume you are for unregulated borders?

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