GARLINGTON: Beware The Effects Of Becoming “Business-Friendly”

We see this argument fairly regularly, that Louisiana needs to make herself into a business-friendly state in order to attract folks from other states (like California, Washington, etc.) to come live and work here.  A larger population earning higher wages will bring joyful times to Louisiana, we are told.

There is some truth in that, but there is also a dark side to this proposition:  It largely accepts the same assumptions about human nature that the Communists make:  namely, that man is a blank slate (tabula rasa), merely an interchangeable part in a vast economic machine that can be moved about within that machine whenever necessary with no negative effects and, indeed, beneficial ones (bigger income, more benefits, etc.).

But all this ignores the real needs and nature of man.

It ignores, for instance, that he belongs to a particular ethnic group with certain predispositions:  A Mongolian, a Celt, a Yemeni, etc., will always remain a Mongolian and so on, no matter where you place him in the world.  Certain changes to his surrounding conditions will modify his characteristics somewhat but not totally erase them.  Louisiana needs to bear this in mind if she is going to throw open the door to all and sundry from places like California:  You can take a Yankee out of the West Coast, but you can’t take the Yankee-ness out of him.  Do we really want to fill up Louisiana’s empty spaces with people who do not share our worldview?

This leads to the next point to ponder:  Men and women have a need for roots; they cannot flourish if they glide along the surface all their lives without any deep connections to a place and to people and to the past.  Family history, church history, the history of one’s neighborhood, city, parish, state, and region (like the South); the stories of ancestors and the sight and touch and smell of old buildings, furniture, trees, landscapes, and so on – mankind needs memories and a sense of belonging as much as he needs a paycheck.

Communists make man simply a material being, neglecting his soul completely, but the strict capitalist view does the same thing, making of man nothing but a free consumer in a giant emporium of endless goods and services from which he can choose.  Both visions are false, and there is a great danger in exalting too highly the purely material side of life as modern capitalists do.  For if gaining material goods is presented as the highest goal of life, then mankind, without any spiritual discipline from Christianity, will happily go the path of least resistance to obtain those goods.  In other words, he will one day happily trade his hard, honest work that he has been giving in exchange for a paycheck for a welfare check that requires less exertion on his part from the comrades of a communist government.

But mankind has a higher calling than this.  The words of an heroic Orthodox priest in Romania, Fr George Calciu, who was imprisoned and tortured and harassed for many years by the Communists in Romania, in his second homily addressed to the confused and aimless youths of his country given on 15 March 1978, are every bit as relevant for us here in the States, showing us clearly what kind of being man is and what his goals ought to be:

The voice of Jesus calls you to His Church.

You live within a family, within a society, within a world.  You are bound to your family by the unbreakable bond of blood, which you cannot deny and which seeks vengeance, if ever you betray it through your suffering.  You live in the midst of your nation, which you feel to be one metaphysical entity—not a group of isolated individuals, but one immense and united soul in which you are the whole and in which the whole lives through you.  And, finally, you exist in a world of suffering and joys, to which you respond because something in you unites and binds you inextricably to all your fellow human beings.

Where then is the Church of Christ to which you are called?

She is everywhere.  She holds within her all human life, and, more, she contains all heavenly beings, too.  For the Church knows no history; her history is the spiritual present.  Family and society bear within them the tragic fate of their own limitations within the boundary of history.  History is, by definition, the chronology of unhappiness, yet the road to salvation.  But you, my young friend, are called to the Church of Christ, which was conceived in God’s eternity and which bears within her perfection, just as the world bears within it its own limited nature.  Society considers you simply a component part, one brick lined up alongside other bricks.  Your freedom in it is to function as a brick, fixed for all time.  This freedom is the freedom of constraint, and in this lies your tragedy.  For your true freedom lies within you, but you know neither how to discover it in its true meaning, nor how to use it when at last you have found it.  You have been told that you are not free, that freedom is the understanding of necessity, and that necessity is imposed upon you from the outside by factors entirely exterior to yourself, as in a lifeless construction.

The Church of Christ is alive and free.  In her we move and live through Christ, Who is her Head, and have full freedom, because we learn the Truth and the Truth makes us free (cf. John 8:32).

Father George Calciu:  Interviews, Homilies, and Talks, Platina, Cal., Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 2010, pgs. 161-2.  (This book is available here for those interested in reading further what Fr George has to say on this and other subjects.)

The answer to Communism, from a man who himself suffered greatly under that ideology, isn’t a free-wheeling capitalism:  It is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Body and Bride of the God-man.

Louisiana has her faults.  Flippancy is one of them, one of our inherited French traits that Chateaubriand in his Memoirs from beyond the Grave and other French writers have noticed in their national character, which we see reflected in our politics fairly regularly.  But it is up to us in Louisiana to cure these the right way.  Giving in to materialist philosophies – whether of the Communist or the capitalist variety – won’t help.  Either one will only lead us to surrender to our foibles and lead us to more degenerate living, to worse flippancy and such:  gambling, football, marijuana, and so on.  The Church offers us a way to channel and transform these disordered passions of ours to good ends:  fasts, festivals, and feasts dedicated to Christ and His saints rather than gluttonous celebrations in honor of the latest phony, ginned-up, secular holiday; building grand churches, icons, crosses, and such like, rather than entertainment venues or sports complexes; etc.

Louisiana is not just a collection of rootless workers taken willy-nilly from all the States.  She is a people, an ethnos, with a unique history and a unique bloodline – from France, Africa, England, Germany, etc.  We need a functioning economy, but one that benefits the people of Louisiana first, that upholds our history and traditions first, that uplifts the spiritual life and does not degrade it.  Any economic reform that seeks to make Louisiana a materialist hodge-podge of people from Maine to Oregon should be soundly and speedily rejected.

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