The puritan / protestant work ethic and the link made by Max Weber in 1905 to capitalism has all but upended this world. No, the book did not upend the world, the persistent idea that work is good has upended this world. See, I think I should make a clear distinction between terms by defining the word ‘work’. In my worldview work is not living. Work is slaving in order to survive. Work is not doing and engaging in self directed acts of meaningful labour, it is the exchange of your time and life force in order to enrich and support a system who’s only value to you is to sustain you enough in order to extract more time and life force from you. Work is evil. Through the ages we have had work manifest itself in different forms. Initially work was synonymous with survival. If you did not work, you did not survive. Think cavemen thoughts. We moved on from this basic system of only survival, we became more organised and complex in our groupings and some of us started to have ‘free’ time. Suddenly some people could focus their attention on things that before would not have been possible in ultimate survival mode. Now we could have teachers, and ministers, and philosophers, and soldiers. Our modes of food production allowed this to happen. Needs became wants and once greed took over there was no stopping this machine. Those with more power and soldiers decided that the easiest way not to work was to get others to work for them – forcibly. Slavery is born. Most ancients all the way from the Bible to the Greeks believed that slavery was in some way natural, the way things are supposed to be.
Today we supposedly know better. We had our revolutions and political changes against that system, and slavery died in the perception of the West. The only problem is, the slave owners realised they are not able to operate without slaves. Well, ingeniously, the current system allowed them to have the best of both worlds. Instead of having to look after the slaves, feed them, house them etc, they can now tell the slaves they are free – no political or ethical issues – and pay them less that what it would have cost to house and feed them. Now the slave has the illusion of freedom (which I might add is valuable, and definitely more ‘free’ than what it was).
A hundred years ago futurists were saying that at the rate of technological discovery and machination we would only have to work a few hours a week today. That obviously did not work out. Greed stopped us from wanting a sustainable lifestyles, to just wanting more and more and more all the time. The earth can’t sustain us, we are working her and ourselves to death.
Here is another blogpost that reflects some of my feelings on this subject: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/on-elevating-humanity.html