even at the familial or village level. There is a naturalnevolution, he said, from couples to villages to states, anprocess leading to a condition of autarky, or self-sufficiency,n^wjiich is the fulfillment of human nature. The internationalists,nin one sense, are only extending this reasoning to thenglobal level.nBut prudence is the great political virtue, and while it maynnot be possible to form a general rule determining how greatnis too great, neither extreme — isolation and globalism —nseems consistent with human nature. When Aristotle spokenof the human need for autarky, he did not imagine a seriesnof anthills in which all the workers performed their individualntasks with automatic obedience. In general, the Greeksnwere suspicious of specialization, because of the damage itninflicted upon the human character. Their ideal gentlemannwas a man in superb physical condition who enjoyed sportsnand hunting; he had a sufficient income for his purposes butnexpected to manage his estates and household; he took annactive part in the politics of his community and, when callednupon, risked his life in its defense; he knew enough ofnHomer and the other poets to be able to draw instructionnfrom them and could sing and play a musical instrument. Ifnhe were, like Plato and Aristotle, intellectually inclined, henwrote on a variety of topics—-ethics, politics, literary theory,nand the sciences, because an exclusive concentration on onendiscipline, mental as well as physical, narrowed a man. Innother words, a free man was an independent man whoncould, at a pinch, provide for most of his own needs, even ifnhe was occasionally served by “professional” poets, musicians,nand speech-writers.nLand, of course, was the primary source of wealth, and anself-reliant farmer clear of debt is a man who does not worrynabout a boss’s good opinion nor look to a tyrant fornhandouts. The same can be true of any man whose incomenis largely under his control, but what proportion of workingnpeople today can reasonably claim independence of thenJohnny Paycheck “You can take this job and shove it” type?nThe criticism of big capital has come from two sources.nMarxists have accused capitalism of destroying all the socialnand communal bonds between men and replacing themnwith the “cash nexus,” but in the 19th century suchncriticisms were more frequently made in Britain and Americanby Tories and conservatives. When Walter Scott saw theneffects of industrialization on northern England, he prophesiedndivine vengeance against the men responsible. Whilenthe Whig liberals were taking refuge in the iron doctrines ofnutility and laissez-faire, the Tories were investigating thenconditions of women and children working seven days anweek in the mines. On a deeper level, the English Romanticsnand Southern Agrarians (including Richard Weaver andnmost recently Wendell Berry) deplored the subjugation ofnhuman nature to the machine and to money. Human beingsnwere created to breed horses and cattle, not money.nIn America, George Fitzhugh based his apology fornslavery on the palpable evidence that slaves were betternhoused and better fed than the so-called “free” workers innNorthern factories. And while the researches of EugenenGenovese and the authors of Time on the Cross tend tonconfirm Fitzhugh’s analysis, the nub of the question is notnstrictly economic. A factory worker may, today, work lessnand earn more than most independent farmers; he may benable to afford electronic luxuries undreamed of by thenrichest plutocrats of a generation ago. His health andnwelfare — and those of his family — are cared for by insurance,npension plans, and Social Security, but there is onenthing he does not and can never have, and that is liberty,nbecause he is nothing more than an employee, a tool at thendisposition of other men.nUnlike the slaves of the ancient wodd or the plantationnsystem, the modern wage-slave can quit and go to work fornanother company, but for the most part this is simply tonchange one master for another. He can also vote, send hisnchildren to government schools, and attend “the church ofnhis choice” (as if faith were nothing more than a whim, atnbest a rational preference), but these are only rights withoutnresponsibilities, and it is responsibility that defines thencharacter of the free citizen.nThe picture is, at this point in our history, somewhatnoverdrawn. There is a tradition of personal independencenin the U.S., deriving from our experiences as farmers,nshopkeepers, and independent tradesmen and craftsmen.nMany blue-collar workers preserve important vestiges ofnindependence: truck drivers, carpenters, plumbers, electriciansncan all put their confidence in their skill, going fromncontract to contract without acquiring the habits of servility.nSome factory workers can maintain their sense of liberty bynlooking upon their jobs as a 40-hour commitment willinglynundertaken for the sake of their families. Even the unions,nwhich have decayed into litde more than interest groups,noriginally promoted the worker’s sense of worth and dignity.nBut the pressures all run in the opposite direction. Annindependent craftsman or the owner of a small repairnbusiness not only has to worry about how to evade thenunremitting scrutiny of government agencies and tax collectors,nbut must also provide for the health and education ofnhis children in a society where the costs of health care andnhigher education are rising more rapidly than even anplumber’s wages. The small farmer or the owner of anneighborhood garage is now in the position of a masterlessnnnAPRIL 1991/15n