The paragraph quoted below is from page 66 of Douglas Rushkoff’s new book, Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus. It reads as would a paragraph written by John Cleese were Cleese writing a hilarious Monty Python skit to satirize one of those modern “Progressives” who is so utterly uninformed about economics and history that he rhapsodizes about the fantastical wonders of “local” economies. Rushkoff’s humor, however, is unintentional. And the real-world consequences of any serious movement toward such local economies would be calamitous for civilization.
The same goes for agriculture, textiles, and many other sectors where returning to local, human-scaled enterprise will lead to less worker exploitation and environmental damage while producing better, healthier products. Nonindustrial practices may be more labor-intensive, but they’re also better for us all. For those of us used to white-collar jobs, the idea of growing vegetables or making clothes may seem like a big step backward toward more menial labor. But consider for a moment the sorts of activities the wealthiest Americans or most satisfied retirees engage in enthusiastically: brewing craft beers, knitting, and gardening. If there’s really not enough work to go around and there are so many extra people to employ, we can always farm in shifts.
This quotation is quite possibly the single most idiotic paragraph that I’ve ever read anywhere.
I’ll not waste my intelligent-readers’ time by reviewing all that is imbecilic about the above-quoted paragraph. I point out only that I’ve known several people throughout my life who love to tinker with automobile engines and who are very good at doing so – people who, I add, often do their own auto repairs and, thus, fail to support their local auto mechanics! – yet I’ve never known anyone who built, who tried to build, or who would want to build his or own automobile from scratch. Rushkoff and other loco-nomics enthusiasts will reply that automobiles differ from food and clothing – that good-quality food and clothing, unlike automobiles, really can be made cost-effectively and locally, on a “human-scale.”* Such a reply only further exposes the deep ignorance of these people whom we might call ‘loco-nomicists,’ with emphasis on the loco.
* What does “human-scale” even mean?