Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Edward Abbey

12 March 2010

The not so illustrious history of work

By Jan Lundberg

The dominance of work, like so many aspects of Western Civilization and its economy, is seldom discussed openly beyond disorganized griping. For we are asked as good citizens to not question the idea of work. Indeed, we are required not to question it. Jobs are sacrosanct. However, that belief may be part of the old paradigm that is being ushered out as the pace of change keeps up.

Hard work has been relatively recently been enshrined as a natural obligation, while it conveniently maintains the state and its ruling elite. For the vast majority of people, work invariably confers no equity stake in the enterprise or product. Whether it's called civic participation or a right, or whether it is as Nazi Germany depended on it (Arbeit), work as we know it is an acquired trait and a recent phenomenon in human experience -- that is, when it is a form of evolved slavery for the masses of people. Perhaps 99% of our time on Earth has been as hunter–gatherers, habitually spending on average much less time on what could be called work, compared to members of agricultural and industrial societies. 

By recognizing work as forced, and not particularly kind for the body, spirit, or the Earth, we can regard work as linked to overcrowding -- or overpopulation. A large, hard-working population produces surpluses, fueling more population, especially with technology to help. We are now overdosed on technology applied regardless of consequences. Doing more work isn't going to help if it's to cater to endless growth or to further technology for its own sake. It's like digging a hole deeper for no good purpose. To differentiate between such work and purposeful, voluntary activity that benefits the whole community, we can create a designation that means the work is vital and widely appreciated: “Chosen Work.” Chork, anyone?
In general I try not to copy and paste the words of others on my blog. But Jan Lundberg's words above are so perfect and resonate with power, that I did not want to even attempt to precis them. The full article is available on The People's Voice:

1 comment:

  1. We are trapped in a paradox: we must work, merely to support ourselves and survive, but doing so adds fuel to the destructive engine of civilization. If we were to refuse to work, we are reduced to mere fugitives, finding ourselves powerless to evoke change because all of our energies are consumed fleeing from civilization's watchdogs.

    There are no clear solutions to this paradox. Some believe that we should work from within the system to evoke change. They liken the growth of civilization to the construction of a tower and feel that the most graceful and elegant solution to the problem would be to deconstruct the tower piece by piece in the order that it had originally been built.

    On the other hand there are others who would flatly reject such sentiment. They would assert that the tower is being constructed faster than it can be torn down. This philosophy calls for rejecting the values of civilization all together and living outside of the reach of civilization. The problem here is that civilization has developed some very long tentacles. The foundation of this tower has expanded to include every corner of the planet. There are no wild places left to flee to.

    Our morality hinders our willingness to contribute to the construction of the tower, yet civilization's authorities refuse to allow us to live by any other system of values than the one they have defined for us. If we refuse to work, then they refuse to allow us to live. It is a paradigm which declares that work is life.......that Work is freedom. The paradigm is not a lie. It is a reality. One created by sick and twisted people, but one that is effectively installed and no longer avoidable. If we don't work and contribute to furthering the entrenchment of civilizations values,then we whither away, starving and ineffectual.

    As I said, it's a paradox that I obviously haven't completely waded through......I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter?