After race-based chattel slavery, the most characteristic American economic institution was the company town, which was servitude of another kind. Individual captains of industry, motivated by genuine personal religion – and not the kind that, as in the South, was merely code for a white skin – endeavoured to create utopian communities. Such was also done in England by Quaker businessmen, the ancestors of the Garden City movement, a tradition that resurfaced in modern tech “campuses”. These were, however, a minority, and the norm remained company towns – around 2,500 in number, accounting for 3% of the whole population – that were not so very different from the Gulag Archipelago.

It has now been almost completely forgotten that the conditions of debt-servitude and coercion in the infant American industries bred an American socialism, and even an American communism, that was fought by another peculiar American institution, the condottiere paramilitary company, here employed to keep the workers in their place and later, in the 21st century, employed abroad. Far more effective than the Pinkertons, however, in burying the rebellion of the American industrial worker, and even his more modest demand for better conditions, was mythopoeia.

Posted on November 27, 2011 at 14:01 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Shadow In The West

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