On the flight over to Hawaii, I got stuck into some old Harper’s and came across this essay by Curtis White, “Hot Air Gods.” To simplify, he equates a fractioning of belief (into a personal, isolated thing) to the fractioning of the self within a capitalist framework (where we are all individual worker bees without community). He says it much better than me, of course, but I was struck by this para:
…We need to come to an honest acknowledgment of what capitalism is, and that has been made very clear for us in recent months by the Chinese entrepreneurs who fill our pet food, toothpaste, animal feed, and even our Viagra with toxic filler. for the entrepreneur, such filler is poison only if someone dies; otherwise it’s just a profit margin. The game is to take profit as close to the poison line as possible. When on occasion profit spills over into poison and someone dies, there is a wild wringing of hands (and , in china, death sentences), but soon back we go in search of that ideal balance between profit and death. We see very much the same principle at work in industrial agriculture. Just how much herbicide and pesticide can we put down before it starts killing something more than bugs and pigweed? Here we see the creed of “cost/benefit analysis” presided over with loving-kindness by accountants and legions of liability lawyers.
I had to type that out, because Harper’s doesn’t print online. Phew! But anyway, dig out the Dec. 2007 issue to read the thing in full.
Here’s an essay on Saving Private Ryan by White that’s worth a peruse.