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2002-09-27You don't have to have the solution...

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"...just got to understand the problem!" Yeah, the Bluetones strike the nail on the head. This is the obligatory "aaaargh, what the hell am I doing?!" whine for the next while. :p Don't take it personally; I shall awake with renewed confidence in the old lies.

I've been bombing through Naked Lunch and Generation X, which may partly account for this wondering. Actually, I didn't think particularly highly of GenX—as teenagers of the 90s, escape from the prospect of multiple sweatshop McJobs* is a headline issue.
* (A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one.)
We are raised in a culture which forces education down our throats, holds up tantalising material rewards (failure to secure which will mark us as lesser beings), and then fails to enable people to use any of that wealth of knowledge in productive employment. The American Dream has been dead this past quarter of a century, it's equivalents around the globe just as buried. Whether you have a degree or the barest of GCSE passes, zombified drudgery of one form or another beckons. Alternately, you can work at employing these poor wretches to make products they could barely afford (because most of their jobs are being offshored to ever poorer victims who definitely could never afford the same products.) Even worse, some people have no expectations.

You can always tell an era in which people are horrified by what's happening in their lives, because they suddenly start clinging to the possibility of another one after it: people allowing themselves to be shat upon not simply because they can't see a way out but because they can convince themselves that their oppressors face a later judgement. (Of course, this is also reversed by another form of authority as: Do what I say, because it isn't me making these rules, it's an invisible bloke sitting on a cloud! However, the anti-religion thread can keep for a while.) The broad conclusion is: Burying our heads in the sand will not change anything, let's deal with what we know. So, what can we do?

Well, communism fails because people are people; avaricious bastichs which I'm only a slightly more hypocritical variant of. The current system fails because there is always another territory outside of jurisdiction which sweatshop labour can be farmed out to. Advanced automated production does not require a supervising workforce, except as unthinking babysitters. The only current 'constant' is people, who need tending.

The question is: What kind of a society can be built when there is nothing to aspire to, and little to aspire to ourselves except personal survival and that of those closest to us? It's self-interest which got us into this fucking mess in the first place—screwing other people over is easy if you can disassociate yourself from them. You get senseless bigotry, you get people who can fire a workforce of thousands because they've become an unviable asset. You get apathy because of greed or hurt, you get the apathy of burnout because caring too much is sanity-shredding. Alternately, you can run through most of these mentalities within the space of a blog entry which takes about an hour to stare at. For what? How many people have ever looked into the possible future and seen things there which they await with anything other than dread? So, I understand the faith imperative; I understand the further imperative which compels people to find others of a close mind who they then castigate for failing to be exactly and immediately alike in every pernicious detail. If people can catch others out, they will not be caught out themselves... or they can bring them down to their level of misery.

I repeat: Wanting (or even needing) something to be true does not make it so. Down at my level yet? Right, well, I'd best go and put the kettle on, then... if people are the problem, maybe they're also the solution. Do you want milk or sugar with yours? :)


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