Saturday, October 13, 2012

Extraordinary Discourse 090 Special: The World Owes You A Living: The Great Work

Extraordinary Discourse 090: The World Owes You A Living: The Great Work

This is the 8th in the World Owes You A Living suite.

Episode 1 is here
Episode 2 is here
Episode 3 is here.
Episode 4 is here
Episode 5 is here.
Episode 6 is here
Episode 7 is here.

Anyone who has dipped into my podcasts knows that a major theme of these compositions is the idea that the world owes us a living. "Something for nothing"? Yep! Well, meet me beyond the quid pro quo. An age of abundance is at the door. The arguments and illustrations for this theme run through this work like a river runs through a valley. Right behind this theme loom the wider themes of emancipation in general, Play, and the great option for maturation beyond the unfortunate scarcity-based compacts of the job system - the nightmare of history from which we are trying to awaken.

In this time of change, while just about every major institution is under siege of metanoia, both Left and Right (a model itself in question) call for "jobs." "Jobs jobs jobs" they intone.

In my opinion, it is time to call for freedom from the bondage of commodity labor, to kick the "work ethic" back to its place, a questionably useful goad in limited situations like households or family farms, in which the "slacker" would be a drag on the enterprise. In large communities and nations, and planetarily, the idea of "pulling your weight" is absurd in a world of high-tech industrial computerized technology, a cornucopia of wealth that could, as Buckminster Fuller and Jacque Fresco explain in scientific terms, take care of everyone on earth at a higher standard of living than anyone has ever known.

Delivered from the "job" which so many hate, and which sickens and kills so many, people would have the option of recovery, and then of devising their own projects, beautifying their communities, voluntarily joining others in worthwhile enterprises, spending time with their kids and grandparents, etc. etc. In short, of finding the health of humanity, which got sucked into the morass of profit-maximization and exploitation of labor.

"How," I thought, "can people equate working for McDonald's or Wal-Mart with "contribution"? How can they think a rise in GDP is in their interest?

The "work ethic as we have known it", templated in children by violence for centuries enforced by true believers, its very victims who have internalized the values of their masters, Calvin's thought-police ("the damned must police each other") - that dragon needs to be confronted. My confrontation took the form of attacking with the "sword of sharpness" wielded by Jack the Giant Killer, the Taoist sword so sharp it cuts things together. In the form of a mouse's cursor operating on the endless flow of human talk - because first we talk, then we change.

My contribution, then, is to the Great Work, a term from Thomas Berry, explained in the podcast.

My continued thanks to all those at CBC Radio 1 over the last 30 years.

--Jack Saturday