Labor - Monster of Western Civilization

Alexander Liss

04/08/98

In recent years (in historic terms) the Western Civilization had created a new social structure - working class. This structure did not exist before and still does not exist in some societies. It did made countries which employ this structure more competitive, but for a price, and the horrible price it is. The introduction of this stricture antagonized society, ruined the family (which functioned as a basic social structure), diminished the perception of the value of the human life, and produced some terrible social dynamics, which we associate with the word "communism".

Many people belong now to the working class, even when they call themselves differently. The share of working class is much bigger now, than it was when it was invented, simply because so much less people are involved in agriculture. Working class is everywhere - in our mentality, in our politics, in moral values.

One might think that problems related to the introduction of the working class do not exist any more, at least in developed countries. However for great many of us the answer on a simple question - How long one can sustain to be without the job, before one gets to the situation, that one cannot pay for needed food and shelter? is still the same - not long. The simple food and simple shelter are expensive. The edge of the disaster is near.

As horrible as it sounds - the near edge of the disaster, that is a main feature of this invention of Western Civilization. From the system point of view it is an ingenious invention - it introduced easy manageable highly flexible part of the society. It is easy manageable because it is driven by the fear of loosing the job, and fear is the most powerful driving force. Flexible, because it is not attached to any assets or form of work. The system, which has such element, is more competitive. However society is not an abstract system made of independent elements. What happens to one member of society affects the other. And we had learnt it the hard way.

Countries, where the development of the working class started, had hit a limitation - their limited resources did not support growing population. The social restructuring was the way out of it. No society would start voluntarily the serious restructuring, as introduction of working class, if there were easy way to expand without changing social structure.

The process of the creation of the working class was sped up by the demands of the market. Market needs a steady expansion, it cannot stand and wait until the society is ready. If it does not expand fast enough, then it dissipates. When market dissipates this causes dramatic social changes. Hence the society, which employs Market, is in a difficult situation, when it hits the limitation of resources. The usual response is the military expansion - acquisition of resources of other societies. The unusual response and very effective one was finding other ways of expansion - technological innovation and social restructuring. It was an alternative to the war, and it did not look so bad.

First only the most disadvantaged part of the population joined the new working class and their decisions were reasonable - they were living on the edge of survival already and they got steady income, when they became laborers.

When the new social structure was formed the society utilized it. The society continued to be under the strain of limited resources, growing population and expansion demands of the market. In this point in history the started social restructuring was the "path of least resistance" and the society went the wrong way. The ever-expanding part of the population moved from more secure environment with the strong family structure to less secure environment with the lesser ties to family structure, from the environment, where each individual counts, to the environment were there no irreplaceable members.

This process produced social tensions, which were the first warning signs of the coming problem.

The other warning sign came when this new class had clearly shown its resistance to the very reason of its existence - based on technological revolution expansion of the society and the market. Workers resist introduction of technological innovations, because they threaten their jobs, they threaten their very survival.

This phenomenon still exists after many years of adjustment and development. Workers and trade unions are major impediment to the improvement of the productivity. Still improved productivity does not lead directly to the improvement of their quality of life, and still it threatens their jobs. Societies with strong elements of socialism are chronically lagging behind in the improvement of productivity. In the socialist countries productivity was extremely low and technological advances were driven mostly by the needs of military.

The introduction of the Labor as social structure created serious internal social problem: the social expansion, which should improve the perception of well-being of practically every member of the society led instead to the depriving of the ever increasing share of the society.

This deprived part of the society has a moral advantage - this people are on the edge of their survival and any normal member of society feels (or should feel) the compassion about it.

The interests of this big social group very often contradict to the needs of the market. This leads to the wrong but strong perception of "immoral nature of the market", it leads to contradiction between Labor and active market participants, and it leads to social tensions. The social tensions lead to the need for the strong suppressive government to keep society stable. And now we have the clear contradiction: the market needs as little as possible intervention of the government, but the imbalance caused by the presence of the Labor in the society needs the strong government to keep society together.

The society had taken the "path of least resistance" in the development of Labor, and that was the wrong path. It is interesting how few people question this path, how much the Labor as a part of the social structure became a part of the image of the normal society. Many think about society without Labor as some old form of society without developed market, without developed technology. Somehow the thought, that it is possible to have a new form of the society without Labor and this form is already emerging inside current society, does not occur in minds of many people.

The existence of Labor is a root of many problems in the society. It is important to see it clearly.

First of all the huge part of the society is placed in the position, where basic needs is main concern not creative expansion. The people who are in the normal situation, who do not need to fight every day for the satisfaction of the basic needs of themselves and their families look like social parasites. The entire system of values in the society is upside down. The development of labor laws, trade unions, unemployment insurance, etc., had alleviated the problem a little, but did not eliminate it. The successful creation of middle class, largely by the efforts of trade unions, created a kind of crutches in the chronically ill society. Laborers live better, but they still are on the edge of survival.

The need to fight for the survival creates strong "labor mentality", where the ideal society is one, where needs are satisfied and the fear of loosing everything is gone. These are ideals of communism. We know that this is wrong, that we have desires, not only needs, we know that all practical implementations of these ideals led to horrible tyranny, but try to explain it to the hard of the laborer, who lives in perpetual fear of loosing the job. This creates the ideological contradiction ion the society - the market feeds the society, but the majority of the society craves for the situation without the market. This problem manifests itself every time the society hits difficult situation.

This hidden craving for the social order different from one we live in is a fertile ground for the anti-market social movements. The pressure of the Labor-Market contradiction is so strong, that many intellectuals mistake these movements for the natural path of the social development, and eagerly lend their hand to the "just cause". It is hard to dissuade them, because Labor is unnatural. However the liberation of Labor is not in the further development of Labor, but it is in the elimination of Labor - converting laborers into active market participants.

In some cases these movements actually led to the social revolution and creation of the new social structure. Obviously these structures were nothing as the dream of satisfied needs without fear. The dream became a part of official ideology (as a goal, not as reality) and the social structures grew from experimentation. The stable social structures, which had emerged, were variants of bureaucratic structures with the strict control and regimentation of the members of the society. It was kind of slavery for the majority of population, the society where basic needs are barely satisfied, there was very little control over own life and creativity was practically impossible. It is interesting, how dreadful and degrading is this state of the fear of living on the edge of the survival, that many workers embraced the opportunity of safe slavery.

The "exchangeability" of laborers created strong notion of unimportance of one human being, when the interests of the collective, state, mass, etc. are at stake. This is not an innocent idea - it has many horrible consequences.

The logic of war was advanced first to the point when deaths of enormous masses of soldiers became acceptable by societies as a price for the victory. It was advanced even further when deaths of masses of civilians became acceptable. All this because societies actually adopted the idea of unimportance of one individual.

Communist countries stretched this idea to the limit. One feature was common in all social experiments, which led to creation of new social structures in communist countries - the strong belief that one individual is not important. The social structures, which emerged this way, encouraged conformity and uniformity and suppressed diversity and individuality. It was not an accident, it was a consequence of this belief brought with the Labor, which in turn became an ideological principle formulated by the leaders of communist movement. With this principle they simple could not arrive to any democratic social structure.

It is important to understand how communist ideology emerges ant takes hold. This ideology is very logical and hence captivating. The only problem - its assumptions are wrong.

It is similar to the system of values of the psychopath - the psychopath assumes the complete detachment from the society and other human beings, the rest is logical conclusion. Normal people are saved from this system of views because they feel that conclusions are wrong and they immediately question the assumptions. The psychopath does not feel the attachment to other human beings hence does not have normal feedback.

The creators and developers of the communist ideology assume that the path of social development, which they observe, is a glimpse into the future of the society, and they try to foresee it and take advantage of their forecast. From that point they are very logical. They see expanding Labor, and they are ready to help the ideology, which fits Labor, to become a dominant ideology of the society. Because the expansion of Labor is a fact, on each step of their activity they have a strong confirmation of their views, the confirmation they interpret as the proof that their views are right. They even formulate this as a principle that the presence of such positive feedback is a proof of proper development. They taught themselves to ignore all other signs, which life gives us, when we go wrong way.

This is if the person is sick and one tries everything to assist the illness, and when one sees the success in this activity, one assumes that activity is right, proper, just, etc., because the life supports this effort.

Labor and expanding Labor is not an inevitable element of the social structure of the market-based society. It should have some amount of laborers, because some people want to be laborers. The rest of active members of the economic life of the society can be (at least theoretically) entrepreneurs. The process of changing the social structure from the current form to the new one can take a long time, but we have to start and maintain this change consciously. Once we let the society go the self-sustaining path of expanding Labor, and we are not happy with it. Now the society has to manage the process of its development.