Well, I beg to differ. My existence on this planet is not even a speck on the Timeline of All Things, but half a century is enough for me to know that the adage in this title is worthless. Literally worthless.
image by geralt - source: pixabay
Work is supposed to be "fun", or at the very least it shouldn't feel like a burden. It shouldn't have the effect it now has on so many people around the globe, of waking up in the morning cursing the hours ahead and reluctantly accepting the burden because it's "not supposed to be fun" and we should "work to make a living"; if you don't work, you don't eat, it's that simple.
No. It was that simple, a long long time ago. We've developed past the stone-age and organized ourselves, developed machinery to replace muscle-power and computers to aid brainpower. We used to have to plant our own vegetables, but now one automated farm can feed an entire country. On a subconscious level each and every one of us knows this: the days we had to work for a living are long gone. The problem with this is that it is only true if you look at humanity as a whole: and that's taboo in our capitalist mindset.
"Yeah, but we don't work for a living, we work to pay for our extraordinarily comfortable lives with color TV's and I-Phones!" Sorry, but that's nonsense. We work because we believe we have to work. We work because in principle no one wants to be useless. And from the day we were born into this world we we've known that to not be useless you have to work. That is, we have to contribute to the society that produced and shelters us. Conversely, if we don't feel like we're in a society that shelters us, we're a lot less willing to contribute to that society; it works both ways. Without work, no money, without money no food or clothes. ...Aaand we're back in the stone-age. See how that works?
If we divide all work there's to be done to keep our current "comfortable lives" in the material sense, and even expand that to all of humanity so that there's no more poor people, each and everyone of us has to work one week per month, or even one day a week. That's because 80% of the work that's being done now has to do with money, power and wealth. Let me challenge your imagination for a moment: try to think away money. There's no money or equivalent of money. We just produce what we need and everyone gets what they want. Not what they need, but what they want. Then we could also think away all the jobs and hours that are spent with just the calculating, negotiating, warring over, distributing, safekeeping and so on, of money. All administrative, banking and legal jobs gone. Poof.
How many hands would that free to do useful work? You know the tedious stuff of actually producing the stuff and services we need? And how much better would we be at those jobs when we go to them knowing it's a job that makes you forget all about the stupid existential question you wake up with every day about how to survive to the next day? How rewarding would it be if you do work in a society that actually works for you as an individual? And how great would we be as individuals?
You see, we would all have so much time "left over" to discover and develop what we really love: art, sports and yes, science and engineering to because there's tons of people who love just that. If we do what we love, if we act as who we really are, I'm absolutely positive that we would reach the pinnacle of our human abilities in every field. Competition would be about getting better again, and not about hindering the development of the competition because there's no profit on the horizon anymore.
I think I know why so many of you are afraid of a world in which all people are truly equal: it's that damn "equality of opportunity versus equality of outcome" debate again. What a useless debate... Look, in a world with money "equality of opportunity" equates to "equality of income", and that's just what you don't want. You're afraid of a dull, grey world in which everyone dresses the same, drives the same grey bus to the same grey workplace. It's the phantom of communism. This is so stupid, I'm sorry. Don't you know about individuality? I'll never dress the same as you, I'll never think exactly as you do, and that's okay. That's what makes us so strong together.
You worry that no one will want to work anymore when everyone has the same stuff or the same rights to all the stuff? Like "why would I work if there's food on the table regardless?" That's a legit worry, but I'm not worried at all. Like I said in the beginning: no one wants to feel useless. And right now that means fighting every day to survive till tomorrow or to get that next I-Phone. From day one it's you against the world. What if that's not the case anymore? What if you're born into a world that's actually working with your individual self, instead of against it? Wouldn't you want to give your minimal share of time and effort to maintain that world? I would.
Anyhow, after a long day of work, and I do like my job as simple and low-paying as it is, I felt the need to write this down. You see, as much as I like some of my colleagues, we live in a world where they're ultimately my deadly adversaries; when push comes to shove, I'd rather not lose my job, so I have to be better than them, be more "valuable" to management. And we have to produce more and better if the company is to survive in its fights against other companies. It's all fights everywhere. Nowhere do I see a sense of unity, a sense of striving for common goals, and all these people believe this competition accelerates progression...? That one keeps boggling my mind: how did we ever come to believe that? That competition is the way forward, that fighting among each-other on every level of society would spur innovation faster and better than if we simply collaborated towards a common goal?
The tragedy of humanity today is that we really could have paradise on earth. We don't need overproduction on one hand and deep poverty on the other. We produce enough food to feed the world twice and we manage to not feed everyone. We have empty buildings in every city next to countless homeless people. We now live in a world of opposites, of "us against them", and we're killing each other and the planet with it. Work is supposed to be fun people, we're not Neanderthals anymore. So quit acting like we are.
BULLSHIT JOBS - David Graeber
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