Wendell Berry, “The Idea of a Local Economy”
Orion Magazine, Winter 2001
The economic theory used to justify the global economy in its "free market" version is again perfectly groundless and sentimental. The idea is that what is good for the corporations will sooner or later - though not of course immediately - be good for everybody.
That sentimentality is based in turn, upon a fantasy: the proposition that the great corporations, in "freely" competing with one another for raw materials, labor, and marketshare, will drive each other indefinitely, not only toward greater "efficiencies" of manufacture, but also toward higher bids for raw materials and labor and lower prices to consumers. As a result, all the world¹s people will be economically secure - in the future. It would be hard to object to such a proposition if only it were true.
But one knows, in the first place, that "efficiency" in manufacture always means reducing labor costs by replacing workers with cheaper workers or with machines.