Capitalism, Predestination, and The Division of Labor
There is not a single human being on the face of the earth who knows how to make a pencil. From scratch, I mean. Without the assistance of what economists call "the division of labor."
The Bible says the Body of Christ is composed of various members. Not all are the head; some are arms, fingers, ears, or toes. Each plays a part. There is no such thing as complete "self-sufficiency."
Imagine a completely "self-sufficient" economy where everyone only consumes what they themselves grow, or uses what they themselves make. If you have milk, it's because you milked your own cow. If you have bread, it's because you grew your own wheat. If you plowed your field, it's because you forged the plow in your garage on your own anvil with your own hammer. You made the hammer and the anvil as well. Could you live like this? Completely self-sufficient? No. We depend on "the division of labor." We all do only one or a very few things, and depend on others for most of what we eat, use, and enjoy.
The concept of the division of labor gives meaning and purpose to our lives, when we see that the "routine" work we do benefits others, just as we are benefited by all the people who perform their specialized functions. Adam Smith began his great treatise on economics, The Wealth of Nations (1776), by explaining the division of labor. It is a vitally important concept.
In his treatise, Capitalism, Prof. George Reisman sums up the advantages of the division of labor:
Human life and well-being depend on the production of wealth. The production of wealth vitally depends on the division of labor, that is, a system of production in which the labor required to support human life and well-being is broken down into separate, distinct occupations. As we have seen, under a system of division of labor, the individual lives by producing, or helping to produce, just one thing or at most a very few things, and is supplied by the labor of others for the far greater part of his needs.
The division of labor raises the productivity of labor in six major ways, and thereby achieves a radical increase in the efficiency with which man is able to apply his mind, his body, and his nature-given environment to production.
It increases the amount of knowledge used in production by a multiple that corresponds to the number of distinct specializations and subspecializations of employment. This makes possible the production of products and the adoption of methods of production that would otherwise be impossible.
It makes it possible for geniuses to specialize in science, invention, and the organization and direction of the productive activity of others, thereby further and progressively increasing the knowledge used in production.
It enables individuals at all levels of ability to concentrate on the kind of work for which they are best suited on the basis of differences in their intellectual and bodily endowments.
It enables the various regions of the world to concentrate on producing the crops and minerals for which they are best suited on the basis of differing conditions of climate and geology.
It increases the efficiency of the processes of learning and motion that are entailed in production.
It underlies the use of machinery in production.
Our purpose in life is serving God and serving others. Understanding the "division of labor" helps us understand how we can best obey these two greatest commandments.
The Bible shows how God ordained the division of labor. Adam was given a helper meet for him. "Meet" but different. Different capacities, different abilities, different personality. Eve was a complement to Adam's abilities. Together they could accomplish more than either of them individually, and by cooperating, they could accomplish more together than both of them working separately. Then we saw this:
"Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground" (Genesis 4:2).
The New Testament describes us as a "body," and each of us are members in that Body with different gifts. Our goal is to Christianize the world, and allow all the gifts God gives to flourish.
But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased (1 Cor 12:18).
A tree is a miracle. It is evidence of the predestinating sovereignty of God. No one on the face of the earth knows how to create a tree. Each of the trillions of molecules in a tree are sustained by God and animated by His Spirit-Cloud to work in unique ways, creating "systems" with their own special functions, with none of these molecules self-consciously desiring to be a "tree" or to produce a "tree," but performing their own individual gift. I am then left in awe by the tree God has created. It is an amazing display of natural harmony in an environment uncoerced by man.
A pencil is a miracle. It is evidence of the predestinating sovereignty of God. There is not a single human being on the face of the earth who could from scratch create a pencil like the one I can buy at a store for a couple of pennies. This sounds incredible, especially since there are billions of pencils produced every year. But no pencil is produced by one single person, from start to finish. Nor is the production of a pencil overseen and dictated by a government bureaucracy called "The Ministry of Pencils," nor is there a "Pencil Czar." The Pencil is created by "the Free Market." Each of the millions of human beings who are a part of the pencil-creating process work in unique ways, creating "systems" with their own special functions, with none of these people or systems self-consciously desiring to be a pencil or to produce a pencil, but functioning as God has predestined them.
There are many people today who speak of the "Rule of Law." They aren't the "man on the street" (you might have guessed) but rather the politicians in the capitols and the law professors in the ivory towers. You may have heard the phrase recently in the news.
• Governor Jeb Bush of Florida did not want to walk into a Florida nursing home and physically prevent Terri Schiavo from being murdered by dehydration because he respected "the rule of law."
• Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was thrown off the Court because he refused to subordinate the Ten Commandments and his duty to acknowledge God to "the rule of law."
For those who worship Man rather than God, "the rule of law" means the rule of the law of man, the totalitarian sway of statist planners and their rational designs over all creation. For them, "law" represents their acts of planning, coercion, and force that bring "order out of chaos" as it is imposed on those "underdeveloped" people who resist their New World Order.
I like to speak of "The Rule of Law" too. For me it means a world created by God, governed by His Law, in which all creation follows God's purposes (Law) for them.
As an anarchist, I find predestination by a Personal God to be of great comfort. The pencil — a product of God's predestination, a visible example of goodness created not by an earthly "archist," nor directed by a human "Pencil Czar," but by the Triune God of Scripture — gives me hope. The pencil helps me imagine the day prophesied by Micah, in which archists have given up their competitive machinations and begin to be God's servants.
Micah speaks of the Rule of God's Law in the hearts of all people, and the subsequent shalom-blessing of God upon our lives. The pencil is an illustration of this blessing.
I was predestined to jot a few notes for this essay with a "Trusty 916 No.2" pencil, "Made in U.S.A." by the "Empire Pencil Co." Not a single one of the millions of people involved in the creation of this pencil were aware that I would use it in this way, nor did they so intend.
But God knew. And if this paper helps you worship God, then I will count my pencil as a great blessing from God.
It would take me a lifetime to create a pencil without the aid of those whom God has predestined to create it for me. I am able to buy a lifetime of labor for pennies. My pencil is a gift from God of inestimable value. How is it I came to possess the wealth of millions?
Not one of the laborers who were planting cedar sprouts back in 1951 knew that their labor was going to produce a pencil which I would use to describe the division of labor and the Providence of God. Even the entrepreneur who purchased thousands of acres of unused land and planted hundreds of thousands of tiny trees did not know what would happen to those trees. All he knew was that in 40 or so years, he could harvest his crop and sell it for more than it had cost him to grow it. Maybe all he cared about was money. His foresight, combined with the risks he took in acquiring the cedar sprouts and hiring the planters, ultimately led to the gift of my pencil. I do not have his entrepreneurial abilities, but I benefit from them.
Then in 1991, saws and trucks and rope and countless other gear were used to harvest the trees and cart the cedar to the railroad siding. I know too little about the making of saw blades to describe God's Predestination of their manufacturing. I can only vaguely imagine the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its metamorphosis into saws, axes, motors, chains. I have no idea how to do these things, but I benefit from them all.
I've met loggers in Oregon and can imagine the logging camps, the beds, mess halls, the food they consumed while harvesting the trees. Each cup of coffee the loggers drank could tell a story every bit as miraculous as the one my pencil can tell.
I know that rope is made from hemp, which had to be grown like the cedar trees, shipped, turned into strong rope, sold to the rope distributor, who had a printer print up his catalog of all the different kinds of rope he had collected for sale to those who needed them, which was read by our cedar entrepreneur, who purchased what he needed to tie the logs onto the trucks that carried them to the next stop in God's plan for my pencil. The rope distributor and the catologue printer may not have thought of themselves as performing vital tasks in God's program, but they were.
The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, along with all kinds of other products which depended on the rails, the flat cars, and the powerful engines, whose ancestry I cannot trace. The tracks were laid by thousands of dedicated laborers, and the schedules each train must follow to avoid collisions were carefully planned by hundreds of skilled specialists and communicated over electronic systems of communication. God made sure they were all in place, knowing that they were helping to bring me my pencil.
Here the cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln-dried in ovens too complicated for me to describe, operated by people who know much more about drying wood than I, having been born, raised, educated, and given just the right opportunities by God to ensure that they would be in San Leandro drying the wood for my pencil.
Because people over the years have bought far more cedar wood when it was tinted than when it is a pallid white, the laborers in San Leandro, knowing they will increase their sales, tint the wood, then wax it, then dry it in the kiln again. I don't know where the tints and the wax comes from, all I know is that God made sure the raw materials were gathered, the finished product shipped to a distributor known by the mill operator so that they could be purchased and used to fabricate a pencil I would need in order to write this essay.
I wish I could say that the electricity used to supply the mill's power came from a generator like the kind envisioned and developed by Nicola Tesla. But I'm afraid that the power came from a dam built for a hydroplant, which required many people to design (to support millions of pounds of water pressure), build (pouring millions of pounds of concrete) and maintain. God may have hidden Tesla's secrets from a nation that would have used them to destroy others, advancing its "Manifest Destiny" rather than building and serving others. An environment scarred by a dam may be a small price to pay for the preservation of life on a larger scale. I can give thanks to God even for the dam He predestined to be built.
The wood for a "Mongol 482" would then have to be shipped to Wilkes-Barre, PA. Railroads have had a tremendous impact on the last few generations in America, with millions of people having their lives moved by the Hand of God in just the right way such that railroads could be built across the continent so that in late 1991 wood could be sent from California to Pennsylvania to be made into my pencil.
Once in the pencil factory each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop — a lead sandwich, so to speak. Eight pencils are mechanically carved from this wood-clinched sandwich.
The factory itself represents capital worth millions of dollars. It is probable, unfortunately, that not all of this money was saved up by those who, for the sake of building up capital for future service projects, consumed less than they earned. Some of this money may have been stolen from others through a process called "Fractional Reserve Banking." Those who built the factory may have been more interested in monetary profit than in serving others in obedience to God's Law. As Jesus might say of them, "Truly I say unto you, they have their reward."
But as the Bible says, "The borrower is the slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7). Sometimes slavery is voluntary, as well as difficult. In their quest for money, they may not have seen the wonderful ways God's predestination works in our world, and may not have been able to enjoy life to its fullest, the way God intended for us to live. They may have had to work overtime, under tight schedules; they may have lost much sleep over whether they could make the payments on their loans; developed ulcers when they saw how much interest they were paying; and they may have led very unhappy lives, working day in, day out, to keep their indebted factory in business. "There is no rest for the wicked" (Isaiah 57:20-21).
Our culture does not want us to believe that "whatsoever cometh to pass" has been ordained by God. If things "just happen" and the universe is not completely controlled by God, then the door is open for man to declare himself king of the universe and begin to implement his own decree, his own predestination. "Serendipity" is such a romantic, light-hearted word, until one recognizes that the philosophy of unpredestined serendipity leads to raw archism, as man incarnates himself in the Divine State in order to predestine others in a lawless, unpredestined world.
The universe has meaning only because God has given it meaning by predestinating all things. All things happen by virtue of the personal, loving Plan of our sovereign God.
How ironic, then (to return to my pencil), to find that the "lead" for my pencil was predestined to be found, mined, and shipped from the island of "Serendipity." Actually, "Serendib" was the name of the island when Horace Walpole coined the term "serendipity" back in 1754. Later called "Ceylon," and now "Sri Lanka," it has been a major source of graphite, which makes my pencil write.
How can I call my pencil a "blessing" when many people who created it were slaves? Sometimes slavery is less voluntary than the slavery of American "capitalists." Strong men, calling themselves "the government," conscript human beings into involuntary service.
We are commanded to follow the model of Jesus, should we be taken captive (1 Peter 2:18-25), but this command to "submit" does not mean that the act of conscription is morally legitimate.
If an unBiblical slave-holder offered to sell me the product of slave labor, I would shop elsewhere, even at higher prices. Sometimes it is impossible for me to extricate my purchases from those industries which have used unGodly means to produce their product, oppressing many along the way.
At other times, I realize that when men are slaves to sin, their covetousness drives them to become the slaves of men. When faced with this tragedy, I remember the proverb, "The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Proverbs 13:22). I know that God creates Pharaohs and other "vessels of dishonor" whose sole purpose is to bring glory to God and blessings to the "vessels of mercy."
I think about the conditions in which the miners in Serendib, laboring close to the equator, must work. I might consider them woefully underpaid; they might be happy to have a job at all. God will deal with their employer (James 5:4); and while his life may be cursed, I am blessed, for "He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor" (Proverbs 28:8).
Throughout this essay I am writing rather idealistically of a "laissez-faire" world in which people are free to act in ways which produce the pencil I need to write about them as predestined actors in God's cosmic drama. Alas, the world is poisoned by slavery and statism. There is no such thing as a "free market." The Bible describes the rise and fall of "the State." Here is what we will see as we read through the Bible:
First, God is sovereign over the State; He predestined it.
Second, for every person enslaved by the State, there are three people who participate in the enslaving: the slave-driver, the government politician who sanctions the activity of the slave-driver, and the "constituent" (voter) who benefits from slave labor and elects the politician and his cronies to baptize the slave-system with words like "rule of law." Enslavement of the innocent by the State lasts only as long as the Lord has predestined it, although the organs of propaganda for the New World Order say their system is eternal.
Third, those who think they can satisfy their covetous lusts through impersonalist statism are at war with God's Law. They are eventually destroyed by the State they construct. Thus God predestines His vengeance upon them by the State which they so "freely" desired.
Fourth, after destroying its "enemies," the State thinks it's the "king of the hill." It is only the king of a hill of dung, however, and it dies the death of all parasites; its destruction (which some would say is a "natural" result of its violation of "economic" law) was predestined by God.
Finally, in the end, the Godly benefit from this whole panorama of human action and history. We continue to learn that God's ways are best, and man's ways, even if described by the "experts" as "realistic," and "practical," lead to destruction.
After benefiting from the labor of shipbuilders, dockworkers, ship captains, lighthouse keepers and harbor pilots, the graphite from Serendib is mixed with clay from Mississippi, in which aluminum hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow — animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions — like from a sausage grinder — cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness, the "leads" are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats. Paraffin wax is a petroleum product. General Schwarzkopf recently admitted that the murder of 200,000 Iraqis and the whole Mideast war (Gulf War I) was "over oil." God predestines war, as we will see in future chapters in the Bible. My pencil was one of the by-products of that war.
The Oregon Cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? If I were to tell you, would you know where to buy them all? How to mix them? Would you have thought that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil played a part in the creation of my pencil? Each of them was better at what he did than Bill Gates would have been. God predestined them all.
The ferrule is brass. The black rings are black nickel. And the crowning glory of my pencil is rather inelegantly referred to in the trade as "the plug." After my free will makes embarrassing mistakes with my "lead," God predestines me to erase them. An ingredient called "factice" is what actually does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape seed oil from Indonesia (once called the Dutch East Indies) with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to popular perception, is used only for binding purposes. I could also trace the lineage of the various vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy, the pigment which gives "the plug" its color is cadmium sulfide.
It is a source of great delight to me that neither the logger, nor the chemist, nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or builds the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my pencil's bit of metal nor the president of the pencil company performs his singular task because he was ordered to by the Pencil Czar, nor any other archist who dictates the production of pencils. The entire miraculous process took place freely under the guidance of an "invisible Hand."
Only God can make a tree. Only God can sow the seeds of zinc, copper, graphite, under tons of hills and mountains. But to each of these miracles which we find in nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies — millions of tiny know-hows coming together naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire — and all in the absence of any human master-minding. Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make a pencil. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring my pencil into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.
But if these millions of know-hows were not created by a personal, loving God, as described in the Bible, then the scientists, generals, dictator-Presidents —all following the lead of the Nazis and the materialists—are correct. They are—we are—nothing but the random and meaningless confluence of chemicals and water, which over time has developed the idea — the delusion — that we can make rational, moral, choices. In the cold, purposeless universe of the evolutionist, morality is an illusion, and meaning is vanity. All is chance.
I am not the being imagined by the defenders of "free will." I am not a lump of randomly-concocted molecules floating meaninglessly in a cold impersonal space-time continuum, in which some god may or may not have known that I would come into being and definitely does not know what my next move is. I will argue that I am a creature of the God of the Bible, predestined for glory, created in God's Image, and sustained by the angels who also worship a predestinating "violent, vengeful God."