Friday, April 29, 2005

Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie

Here's a fun little movie that makes some good points:Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie.

We are taught to rely on "the system" to structure our lives. If we're gonna be independent, we need to learn how to be effective on your own. I've already started to collect some resources on self-management.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Willing slaves

One of the more problematic personalities in the world is that of the willing slave. This is the person who accepts his dominance by others as inevitable, or even beneficial. This type of person is just as problematic as the oppressor himself, because the oppressor would be nothing without willing slaves. The willing slave provides the oppressor with the motivation and the resources to enslave others.

With this in mind, I read an interesting piece at Lenin's Tomb, called Capitalism and Unfreedom. The point of this article, as I see it, is to examine how a person could come to see his enslavement as part of the natural order of things. In this example, the author looks at how our (state-run) schools treat the process of economic specialization. High-school economics teachers often treat specialization in an ahistorical manner, where everyone simply decided to specialize because it was the most productive thing to do. This analysis only holds water if we assume that work necessarily has no value in itself, and we only work to create the end product (i.e. there's no chance that we could actually enjoy work).

In reality, people can draw more or less enjoyment from their work and we generally enjoy diverse activities over mind-numbing repetition. Also, in reality, the hyper-specialization of today's society did not result from individual attempts to be just a little more productive; it resulted from situations where millions of farmers lost their land (by force, fraud, or poor luck) and were forced by threat of starvation to take industrial jobs for whatever wages were available. They became a cog in their boss' machines, and as competition between cogs drove wages down, the bosses were able to assign them to ever more specialized and thoughtless tasks.

And now, let's hear from "lenin":
The illusion of a free and equal contract between employee and employer is one that exerts considerable hold.... The thought that the situation might be rigged in advance, by virtue of the capitalists control of the means of production, is so obvious that it eludes many people who otherwise place themselves on the Left.

In part, this is because people are prepared from an early age to expect and accept this state of affairs. In high school Business Studies class, I was shown along with my class mates a video sponsored by some bank which purported to demonstrate how the division of labour came about. It all took place, it seemed, in a relatively benign and peaceful fashion, with no intruding political questions or economic phases. From the cavemen to cashcards, it was really all about work being broken down into separate tasks which would be undertaken by those most able to do them. Then, finding contact with nearby villages, they would trade things that they were good at making for the things that the other villages were good at making. David Ricardo chortled from beyond the grave. The only interesting thing about this propaganda video is that it raised not a single eyebrow - as how could it? One is led to expect to work for a capitalist without seeing anything necessarily unjust about it, and one has nothing to compare it to. The worker is taught to sell herself (all those job interview training schemes) without perceiving herself as a commodity.
I'm glad that some folk are still willing to resist slavery.

Live Free or Die