…We will be wrong if we attempt to correct what we see as “environmental” problems without correcting the economic oversimplification that caused them… What has happened is that most people in our country, and apparently most people in the “developed” world, have given proxies to the corporations to produce and provide all of their food, clothing, and shelter. Moreover, they are rapidly giving proxies to corporations and governments to provide entertainment, education, childcare, care of the sick and the elderly, and many other kinds of “service” that once were carried out informally and inexpensively by individuals or households or communities. Our major economic practice, in short, is to delegate the practice to others.
Wendell Berry in the essay “The Idea of a Local Economy”in the collection The Art of the Commonplace.
Photography by David Guttenfelder. From a series of his instagram photos, some of the first uncensored images from North Korea.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
I am a student of biology and anthropology. I just turned my summer research trip into a thesis about Alternative Agriculture and Intentional Communities. My project was accepted to be presented at the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Conference in Michigan this June. Going to this conference …
Ok internet, I need your help.