Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The real ethical question of our times

"[T]he problem with both old-style imperialism and modern corporate globalism: both serve money before love. The real ethical question of our times, then, is not which of biotechnology, organic agriculture, the motor car, heart transplants, fair trade or computers are, in themselves, 'a good thing'. That is a meaningless question. The real question is, rather, how and why and who and what do these things serve? Do they free the spirit and feed the hungry? Do they honour the diversity of life on Earth? Or do they, somewhere or for somebody or something, mean enslavement?"

- Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul: People verses Corporate Power
(London: Aurum, 2001), 102-3.

The best part of this autobiographical book (apart from the enthralling Hebridean narrative) is McIntosh's critique of consumerist idolatry, particularly of its emergent qualities, which only become visible at the macro-scale. The worst part is, as McIntosh predicts, "The Christians will say that it is all too pagan and the pagans will say it is too Christian." (p. 271). That is, McIntosh is not particularly concerned to represent the historic Christian faith, but is happy is cherry-pick theological motifs or concepts and use them for his own ends. This is somewhat disappointing, given that sometimes this undercuts the power of his critique and constructive suggestions.
Image by Celia Carroll.


John S said...

Love the quote -- thanks!