Friday, July 17, 2009
This is a subject near and dear to me, though sadly neglected on this blog. It is at least tangentially related to the subject of some email correspondence between Boethius and me some years back, something we christened Spiritualism, to be contrasted with philosophical materialism. It was a bit difficult to summarize the train of thought of the Spiritualists (abbreviated "Spits"), except to say that the epistemological and ontological foundation of an act of a person, combined with intent and experiencing the consequences, is at least as strong as the objective, "real" world.
In any case, I believe that we are at or near the end of the "Cartesian template" for human progress. This is a historical phenomenon that started, oh, 10 to 40 years ago, but in an indirect way it is very important to the current economic crisis. The process of development in technology continues, but the willingness of people to pay for its accomplishments has gone way down. Our economy will continue to struggle for at least as long as it appears that there are no good options for smart, energetic people to devote their time to.
This book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, has been the latest big thing on the alternative Right for a while. I haven't read it but I suspect that I would be sympathetic with its thesis. But I don't want to overstate the case that the ideas in it will serve as the foundation for economic revival. It may be that bourgeois America will escape its cubicles. If it does it will be for the sake of the workers' well-being. But that's only half the equation. There will also be a revolution on the consumer side as well, something that creates a sense of urgency. But the consumer is feeling poor, and will be wary of buying the latest brand of snake oil. The consumer has to go through a phase of social or spiritual development as well. Only then will he know what's worth spending money on.