Dreaming Beyond Capitalism
Soon after white people did approach them, coming to them however with supportive intentions – a group of activists from the United States, searching for ways to protect Indigenous Peoples from the oil industry. Rewarding people with profit and status for the most competitive and destructive behavior, worshiping the golden calf of maximal economic growth, capitalism has effectively manufactured and then exploited people’s dream image. We only consider egoism, hatred and brutality to be “Normal” because over the past few thousand years our civilization has been conditioned in this way – basing its economy on war, its social organization on domination and conformity, its religion on punishment, damnation and sin, its education on coercion, its security on the elimination of the supposed enemy, its very image of love on fear of loss. Patriarchal conditioning – carried out worldwide, generation after generation, with the most aggressive means – has created a cultural matrix of violence and fear, which at present nearly all of humanity more or less unconsciously follows. Working as a psychoanalyst, he faced the same basic structure in all his patients – no matter whether they suffered depression, heartache or schizophrenia – deep-rooted existential fear. The further he inquired, the more he realized this fear is not only in the “Mentally ill,” but also appears in the “Sane” as fear of what others could think of them, as speech anxiety, as fear of authorities and institutions, fear before and after intercourse, fear of the future, of getting sick and so on. “Fear is not only the product of capitalism, but part of its foundation, an element without which this entire system would collapse.”[iv].A New Matrix of Trust. For Duhm, the consequence was clear: If we want to escape from the wetiko disease of our current capitalist culture, we need a credible concept for a new nonviolent global society and for transforming the old matrix of fear and violence into a new matrix of trust, compassion and cooperation. Healing wetiko would be nothing short of reinventing our entire civilization and basing human existence on new social, ethical, spiritual and sexual foundations allowing profound trust between people as well as between humans and animals. In 1978 Duhm started out with a group of people to engage in an interdisciplinary research project for social and ecological sustainability to develop precisely such a concept. Having witnessed the failure of countless communes in the 1970s, most due to unresolved interpersonal conflicts around money, power and sex, the project focused its cultural experiment on creating new social structures able to resolve the psychological substratum of fear. As we are reaching the pinnacle of a culture of global wetiko, the last throes of late-stage capitalism, healing our collective trauma, re-establishing functioning communities based on trust, and making our human existence compatible with the biosphere and nature again, may well be our only opportunity to secure ourselves and our children a future worth living on Spaceship Earth.
Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs
Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. At the same time, “Professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “From one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away. Rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “Service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. These numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones. It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to employ. While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting, will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job.