This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Labor

Much could be, and has been, said about the nature of human work and the dignity which is its due. Nonetheless, in the modern period from the beginning of the industrial age the Christian truth about work has been opposed by various trends of materialistic and economistic thought. The most significant of these has been the desire to turn labor into a commodity, on the assumption that its price ought to be determinable based solely on market factors:

“For certain supporters of such ideas, work was understood and treated as a sort of ‘merchandise’ that the worker—especially the industrial worker—sells to the employer, who at the same time is the possessor of the capital, that is to say, of all the working tools and means that make production possible…the danger of treating work as a special kind of ‘merchandise’, or as an impersonal ‘force’ needed for production (the expression ‘workforce’ is in fact in common use) always exists, especially when the whole way of looking at the question of economics is marked by the premises of materialistic economism.”[1]

The quote above was taken from Laborem Exercens, promulgated by St. John Paull II in 1981. Ten years later, in Centesimus Annus, he applauded those who had successfully integrated these principles into their political outlook, attempting to “deliver work from the mere condition of ‘a commodity’ ”:

“…we see in some countries and under certain aspects a positive effort to rebuild a democratic society inspired by social justice, so as to deprive Communism of the revolutionary potential represented by masses of people subjected to exploitation and oppression. In general, such attempts endeavour to preserve free market mechanisms, ensuring, by means of a stable currency and the harmony of social relations, the conditions for steady and healthy economic growth in which people through their own work can build a better future for themselves and their families. At the same time, these attempts try to avoid making market mechanisms the only point of reference for social life, and they tend to subject them to public control which upholds the principle of the common destination of material goods. In this context, an abundance of work opportunities, a solid system of social security and professional training, the freedom to join trade unions and the effective action of unions, the assistance provided in cases of unemployment, the opportunities for democratic participation in the life of society—all these are meant to deliver work from the mere condition of ‘a commodity’, and to guarantee its dignity.”[2]

The subject of labor will remain a constant theme throughout the remainder of our study.

[1] LE, 7.

[2] CA, 19.

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