Have no illusions. We’re just numbers. Commodities. Expenses for employers or clients. Seldom an investment, and all investments expire eventually. All that matters is providing more requiring less. To survive we must be experts in bidding on an endless rat race. The highly technological and promising 21st century is all about leaving behind human rights, civil rights, unions, social welfare and the social state. Each one by himself is the motto.
See Donald Trump and other thugs. See the sites for job offers. See the freelance platforms. The jungle persists, in spite of the new foliage. No doubt the extraordinary global effort to manufacture a vaccine against Covid-19 might give us some hope about communal behavior, but once the danger gets more under control the law of the jungle will be back on. And the vaccine will be part of the game. Exploitation is far away from being expelled as the engine for the so-called civilization.
Dictatorship, either governmental or corporative, from Left or Right wings, is all about dehumanizing individuals. The recurring excuse for the procedure is called “the common good” or “the grand picture”, phrases heavily distorted, an ordinary phenomenon to well meaning rhetoric and ideals. There is always someone ready to make bad use of good words. Such vocabulary becomes the fundamental tool to make us believe we are cherished and taken care of. Try reading the texts of job offers. I insist. And the freelance platforms, where bidders adopt the same language to sell their services, making commodities of themselves.
Commodities we are. From exploitation we die.
This word is of extreme importance. Leaders must give it due value in this time of pandemic, of global disease and death. It is the solidity of civilization and the strength of its institutions that will determine how many of us will survive. The amazing capability of humankind to get organized and raising individuals to use their talent for the common good should be the at the heart of both business and politics, instead of the plain accumulation of money. Ambition goes far beyond profit and vanity. It includes vocational fulfillment, a sense of purpose and utility, the idea of having a role in society. Even without knowing or admit it, we all share the goal of becoming civilized or taking the benefits of civilization.
Even the most selfish of individuals, even psychopaths realize that one must be inside the game of being civilized, at least for a while, to avoid being ostracized. Civilization, through ages, developed several shapes, the known pinnacle of which being democracy. What frightens me, and is the reason for the writing of this post, is how fragile civilization is and how common is the mistake of taking it for granted. More, this pandemic is putting civilization to the test and, in spite of the death tolls, thousands of powerful individuals are not taking it seriously. I am afraid of colapse.
This is one of those times when a strong democratic and powerful regulator is needed, if such thing would ever be possible. The only way to imagine such a possibility is with the strict use of fundamental proven laws to the equality of human rights. Instead of giving money and making business with dictators, our democracies should endorse movements to the spreading of democratic secular states. Parliaments should have a scientific council for matters of physical and mental health, education, poverty and the proliferation of job offers. Wealth should be supervised with a non-exploiting and non-impoverishing criteria. In short, laws must be decent and their inspection efficient and effective.
These are my castles in the air. No matter how distinct are civilizations around the world, no matter their languages – all different as a punishment from God, if one is to believe in Babylon -, no matter the selfishness of several of us, I believe a day will come of solid institutions to preserve our rights, justice, and the guarantee of survival, no matter how deadly a pandemic.
It is easy to get angry and lose control. Try dealing with a noisy classroom full of children hurting and bullying each other. You will crack in a blink. Give it a few years of daily exposure to excruciating noise and continuous effort to maintain control and you will sink into clinical depression and trauma, finding yourself unable to exercise the profession again. Thousands of teachers are in that condition. You can apply the same reasoning to any professional working under abusive conditions or any human being under abusive families, companions or marriages. Some people explode.
Unfortunately, civilization has not grown enough to make it possible for people to change context. Taking unemployment and real estate prices into account, one is condemned to hold still in the abusive scenario until the following episode of explosion, ending up oneself to become an abusive agent committing crime.
A totally different kind of individual is the bully. Here it is not a matter of losing control. Bullies are deliberately violent and abusive. Their only principle is to provide themselves and their tribe with infinite power and wealth. Ends to justify means is the basis to propaganda, recruit and alliances. Ends to justify means gives them permission to domestic violence, rape, slaughter, beheadings and genocide.
Civilization is to bullies a mere tool for the perpetration of power, abuse and wealth. The concept of civilization as a social structure without abusive leaders is beyond their understanding.
Violence by extenuation and violence by abuse are sometimes hard to distinguish. In an ethically based civilizational structure, once the violent act is committed, subjects get the same label – criminal. Though such label is true, it is prawn to misjudgment. Reaction to abuse and exercising abuse are antagonistic realities.
One thing is sure. If you are not a bully, society offers thousands of sets for you to explode. My advice is never to pass judgment without wearing the defendant’s shoes.