In the last week, two stories have set social conservatives’ hair on fire.
The first is our Supreme Court refusing to hear the case of Baronelle Stutzman, a Christian florist who was penalized by the State of Washington for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. (This, despite President Trump’s three vaunted appointments to SCOTUS.)
The second is a massive protest outside a Los Angeles spa, which allowed a “trans woman” (i.e., a man) to luxuriate buck naked in an area reserved for women. Naturally, Antifa showed up and is smashing fashy skulls with impunity.
Dear reader, before we go on, believe me when I say: I don’t mean to detract from the cause or the courage of Ms. Stutzman or the L.A. protestors. Nothing that I’m about to write should be interpreted as discouraging them in any way from standing up for their (eminently sound) convictions.
But it occurred to me that both these battles are being fought over institutions that, strictly speaking, need not and probably should not exist.
Take the wedding industry, for example. Mrs. Davis asked one of our dear friends to bake our wedding cake. This has been the routine with literally every wedding I’ve attended here in our “intentional community,” for three reasons:
(A) Because we all get married in our early twenties, we can’t afford to hire a professional baker. As a matter of fact, we can’t afford to hire professionals to do much of anything. Ninety-five percent of wedding prep is done by volunteer labor.
(B) Since we believe in thrift, we wouldn’t waste the money on an elaborate cake even if we had it. We have to save up for our ten children, three acres, and a cow.
(C) Asking friends to get involved in your ceremony allows you to retain the communal aspect of the Sacrament of Matrimony. After all, weddings aren’t just massive parties. They’re a chance for the community to welcome the young couple’s love and their commitment to build a family together—a family that will ensure that community’s survival for generations to come.
As for spas, I’m still not even clear on what they are. I’ve always imagined them like giant saunas, but presumably they’re not the same as Turkish baths. Anyway—no, I’ve never been to a spa, and I don’t know anyone who has. They’re not too common out here in the country.
Whether we realize it or not, these are only two more acts in the drama of woke capitalism.
As I’ve written many times before, Big Business and Big Government are just the two arms of oligarchy. They work in tandem to gather all wealth and power into the hands of an elite cabal based in Washington, Wall Street, and in Silicon Valley.
But the Big Business arm doesn’t only work through corporate monopolies. Any sort of commodification is a boon to oligarchy. And by “commodification,” I mean the process of transforming private associations or transactions into public ones.
Now, here, I don’t use “public” and “private” the way economists do. I don’t mean polis vs. agora. Again, that’s a false dichotomy. By private, I mean voluntary; by public, I mean subject to regulation.
Nor do I mean “voluntary” the way libertarians do, in the sense that slavery is fine so long as one only enslaves oneself. By voluntary associations, I mean those predicated upon mutual trust, self-interest, and goodwill—not law, contract, etc.
The regulation entailed by public associations may be “soft,” like a spa owner allowing crossdressers to strip naked in the women’s locker room. It may be “hard,” like a state court deciding that a Christian baker must bake a cake for same-sex weddings. Either way, the result is the same. We, either as citizens or customers, are subjected to ideology.
Of course, one may choose not to patronize a pro-“trans” spa, just as a Christian baker may choose to move from a liberal state to a conservative one to protect himself from frivolous lawsuits. But the oligarchy will slowly spread its control over more and more businesses. It will spread its ideology to other states and municipalities.
Meanwhile, the oligarchy will continue to commodify as many goods and services as it can. It will make more relationships “public”—that is, subject to external control. It will reduce the number of families, communities, and other social units that are predicated purely on the voluntary association of individuals.
They will strive to make every human relationship subject to law or contract. Some, like sex, will be regulated in the form of “industry standards” and taxes. Those that can’t be regulated, like churches, will be suppressed.
Eventually, every aspect of life will be subject to the oligarchy’s Terms and Conditions. This is the Commodification of Everything.
I’ve made this argument many times before, both on this blog and elsewhere. The reason conservatives are losing, and will continue to lose, is because our highly commodified socio-economic order will always work to the advantage of the oligarchy.
Once upon a time, ordinary folks relied on the government for nothing except to protect them from invading Moors. And the only economic transitions they undertook were (again) purely voluntary: trading six of their chickens for one of their neighbor’s goats or whatever. There was no sales tax, no FDA—just two lifelong friends striking a friendly bargain.
Ever since capitalism rose out of the ruins of England’s monasteries, our elites have harnessed “market forces” to serve as the engine of progressivism in the Western world. They have used their wealth and power to crush NGOs (like the Church) that opposes the centralization of political power. They grind down voluntary associations of working people (like the guilds) that resist the centralization of economic power.
Obviously, I’m not saying we should return to a Medieval-style barter economy. But, you know, we could all stand to do a lot more bartering.
The point is that Medieval men were self-sufficient. They belonged to what Fr. Vincent McNabb called “a family of families gathered together in aid and defense of life.” Between themselves, they could produce all the basic necessities for life: land, shelter, food, water, and clothing. Today, we’re utterly dependent on the oligarchy for all of these things.
If we can’t get it from Big Government, we get it from Big Business. If we can’t get it from Big Business, we get it from Big Government. And, if we can’t get it from either Big Government or Big Business, it’s illegal. That’s why the oligarchy has so much power over us.
And what have they done with that power? They’ve torn apart the moral fabric of Western society. They’ve destroyed our sense of community. They’ve virtually abolished any semblance of real culture.
That’s the prophecy given by Aldous Huxley in his masterpiece Brave New World. Huxley knew that, when totalitarianism claimed its final victory, it wouldn’t steal the citizens’ freedoms from them. No: the citizens would surrender them voluntarily, in exchange for greater ease and raw pleasure.
We’re seeing that slow surrender play itself out before our very eyes, only we know it as progress.
For conservatives and Christians, then, the only way out is to participate in the capitalist order as little as possible. Defund the oligarchy. Starve them of power.
Yes, that means you have to delete your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Don’t outsource your social life to Silicon Valley. Invite your friends over to supper, or get drinks at a bar. By a film camera and share photos in person. And, yes, that also means you have to delete your Amazon Prime account. Patronize small businesses, etc.
But it also means you have to stop paying strangers to do things that you and your friends can do yourselves. Try being a little thrifty. Practice self-denial. Learn to go without.
And, for God’s sake, don’t go in for any “luxury.” Luxury is the enemy of virtue, and freedom can’t exist in the absence of virtue. (Again, with all due respect to the L.A. protestors, spas have the same decadent, self-indulgent vibe as crossdressers. I can’t think of anywhere a drag queen might feel more at home, except maybe a public library.)
And remember, friends: when we finally arrive that that Brave, New World, we’ll have no one to thank but ourselves. The oligarchy will buy our liberties from us, fair and square. We’ll agree to the terms and conditions. We’ll sign on the dotted line.
This is why I say that austerity is the price of freedom. We must do more with less. We have to reclaim our independence from Big Government and Big Business. There’s no other way.
So, delete all your various accounts: Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Xbox, Zoom, PornHub, GrubHub, whatever other -Hubs there are out there.
If you need deodorant, get off your ass and drive to the store. (Better yet, walk.) If you want to shoot bad guys, run away to France and join the Foreign Legion. Make some real-life friends. Go bowling or get drinks or something. If you’re a woman, forget about your spa day with the girls. (No, you haven’t “earned it.”) If you’re a guy, go to church and meet a nice girl. Ask her to marry you. And, if she says yes, bake your own damn cake.