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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Poverty in the machine age

One of the problems surrounding the concept of poverty is that a wide range of conditions are grouped under the term, some of which are irrelevant to actual human well-being. For example, lack of food leads to misery, but lack of an automobile does not. Lack of a microwave does not imply unhappiness or a ‘struggle for existence.’ The products of industrialism are all quite new and it is absurd to assume that everyone who lived prior to the modern era was therefore miserable because they did not have a cell phone and a television. These are luxuries which are only imagined to be necessities because, for the West, they have become precisely that. An American today cannot participate in his society without an automobile and a cell phone. He can get by without these things, but this would normally cause great inconvenience because his society has by now taken the possession of these contraptions to be the norm and has arranged itself accordingly. Roads are no longer made for diverse means of transportation (carts, horse, bicycle, pedestrian) but for the car alone. One of the standard questions on a job application is whether or not one possesses reliable means of transportation, which can only mean an automobile. In such a context, to be unable to afford an automobile is to lack a necessity—an artificial necessity, to be sure, but a necessity without which full participation in society would be a struggle.

Thus, it is true to say that in America, to be without car or cell phone or access to the internet is to be ‘poor,’ and those are ignorant who pretend that this is not the case; but it is also ignorant to pretend that just because this artificially imposed ‘standard of living’ is such for Americans that the same standard holds true elsewhere. In many countries it is not the norm to possess an automobile, but this does not make anyone poor because their society does not base itself on the assumption of such a possession.

Even on the level of education, it is very difficult for the industrial West to comprehend that literacy itself is an artificial ‘need’ and that it has been possible throughout much of history and throughout much of the world today to live a happy and fruitful and fulfilled life without knowing how to read. Literacy does not imply intelligence, but is rather a basic technical skill, and it is a technical skill needed by the machine and its mass of attendants more than, for example, a traditional agrarian society.

The point of all of these observations is to counteract the common association of caste and hierarchy with material misery. Often this perceived ‘misery’ is an unrecognizable simplicity of life that modern observers cannot appreciate. When actual want does enter the picture, it is surrounded by so many confusions and misconceptions and self-projections that inevitably the target country is construed as backwards and ‘underdeveloped’ and its only hope is to passively submit to the plans of the world-developers, who act as little more than evangelists for the pseudo-religion that is capitalism.

Here we will quote Shankaracharya on the idea that every nation ought to raise its ‘standard of living’ to as high a degree as possible:

“the very idea of raising the standard of living…will have the most injurious effects on society. Raising the standard of living means tempting people to encumber themselves with more luxuries and thus leading them ultimately to real poverty in spite of increased production. Aparigraha meant that every man should take from nature only so much as is required for his life in this world.”

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