Sunday, June 28, 2009

Manufacturing Dependency

My father and I share a love for the history of the American West during the 1800s. When I finished reading, "Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend", I recommended the book to him. He enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm now reading a book, "Across the Wide Missouri", that dad recommended to me.

This book, written way back in 1947, focuses on the fur trade in the central and northwest areas of an ever expanding America. It details the various mountain men who served as the trappers and the economic interests behind them (that led to many areas of the west being stripped of their rich animal diversity due to over trapping). It also talks a lot about the various Indian nations and their relations -- both positive and negative -- with these encroaching white economic interests.

Early in the book, one paragraph really jumped out at me.
The first step in the white man's exploitation of the Indian, and it was the inevitably fatal step, was to raise his standard of living. From the moment when the Indians first encountered manufactured goods they became increasingly dependent on them. Everything in their way of life now pivoted on the acquisition of goods. (p. 12)
As I mulled over these three sentences, it began to dawn on me that the author had unwittingly highlighted one of the great downfalls of all humankind, not just Indians on the American continent. While manufactured goods certainly make our lives easier and more comfortable, almost every society on the face of the earth has become a dependent slave to convenience (even including the Pirahãs of the Amazon rainforest). If some cataclysmic event were to occur and manufacturing plants the world over were destroyed, most modern men and women wouldn't know what to do with themselves!

We have each become so dependent on consumer goods that we've lost the ability to embrace what the natural world has to offer and, as Dick Proenneke pointed out, far too many people don't even know how to make things with their own two hands!

But it's simply not just consumer goods that we've become dependent on. Religion, nationalism and various political ideologies serve as a crutch that far too many people believe they need to stand up straight in this world. Remove these crutches and people lose their own self-identities!

Behind this manufacturing process, as always, is economics. Whether we're talking about electric hand mixers, mass-produced moccasins or Christianity, there is a segment of the population that pushes these things on others as a method of fattening their pocketbooks. When we get right down to it, that's what manufacturing dependency is all about -- creating the need in the masses to purchase whatever it is that you're selling.

It's a tried and true formula because it works and it works too damn well.


  1. "AMEN"

    really all so true R T. Great post.

    I am guilty, for sure - dependent on easy everything -

    love to you and Della


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.