Berry on Industrial Colonialism

In keeping with the Wendell Berry theme on this blog lately, here’s a provocative paragraph from the essay “The Agrarian Standard” in Citizenship Papers:

Industrialism prescribes an economy that is placeless and displacing. It does not distinguish one place from another. It applies its methods and technologies indiscriminately in the American East and the American West, in the Unites States and India. It thus continues the economy of colonialism. The shift of colonial power from European monarchy to global corporation is perhaps the dominant theme of modern history. All along–from the European colonization of Africa, Asia, and the New World, to the domestic colonialism of American industries, to the colonization of the entire rural world by the global corporations–it has been the same story of the gathering of an exploitive economic power into the hands of a few people who are alien to the places and the people they exploit. Such an economy is bound to destroy locally adapted agrarian economies everywhere it goes, simply because it is too ignorant not to do so. And it has succeeded precisely to the extent that it has been able to inculcate the same ignorance in workers and consumers. A part of the function of industrial education is to preserve and protect this ignorance.

Berry, Citizenship Papers, 144-5.

2 responses to “Berry on Industrial Colonialism”

  1. i think i’m going to have to borrow this book. it sounds like a must read. i’m loving what he has to say. i was just talking about colonialism to nathan today and saying how deep seated it is in us. we really need to unravel this demon and be set free of it before it ruins more people’s lives!

  2. Agreed, colonialism is a central metaphor that we need to understand to locate ourselves as Christians within our context. That context being empire.

    I wish I could lend it to you, but it was from the library and I had to return it yesterday. I recommend Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community as a good place to start with Berry. Public library has two copies.

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