When did the word “industrial” become synonymous with heinous attributes of our society? To be industrial has not always meant “continued or increased military spending by the national government.” a term first used by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his Farewell Address on January 17, 1961. Nor has it always been “characterized by a low fallow ratio and higher use of inputs such as capital and labor per unit land area”, in contrast to traditional agriculture in which the inputs per unit land are lower. Nor has industry been a “transition to new manufacturing processes…” To be industrial traditionally refers to the efficient effort put forth by individuals, and not to the methodological destruction of other countries through warfare, or the planned and procedural devastation of the environment. Nor has industry always denigrated human beings to just another “cog in the machine”.
Industrial military complexes, industrial agriculture systems, or industrial revolutions really do not refer to industry at all, but to consumption, profit motivation, and product movement. I would like to take back the word “industrial” to mean something effective but positive; a compliment if possible. I would like to see the industrialization of our communities by seeing lawns disappear, being replaced by gardens, and useless fences replaced by useful fencing in of a few small livestock. I would like us to be an industrial culture once again, but in the true sense of the word.
If we are to become industrial, we must come to understand the system in which we work. We must understand that industrialization does not mean continued or increased inputs measured in units and efficient processes that lead to positive profits. I would like to be industrial because that is what human beings’ purpose is: to work. But we are also moral beings, and so I would like us to be morally industrial. If we are to work, then we ought to work towards something good, something positive, something sustainable, something worth being.
The good, the positive, is seldom complex and even more seldom reliant upon units, inputs, measured efficiencies or manipulated markets, goods and services. It is almost as if we have let our language fall prey to the lowest common denominators of those in our society that would have us believe that progress is measured in goods and services created by our industries rather than our industry. I would like us to be industrious without relying upon industry. We can, if we only realize that we must. We must, and so I can only hope we will.