Saturday, April 4, 2015

Making all labors "labors of love"

Advocating for a FREE (pay-it-forward) society might seem like unrealistic utopianism, but I'd like to make (part of) a case for it. I'll just touch on some points here, but a more complete case, with fleshed-out explanations and examples, seems ripe for the undertaking.

What's preventing the entire economy from working on a "labor of love" / "pay it forward" basis? Not much, I'd argue, besides the momentum of our assumptions. I think many, many people already feel very attracted to this idea, but when it's been brought up, the reaction against it has often simply been that it's too radically different from the status quo -- it's too different from how people are used to thinking. So it seems that there are many people who are for it, but who assume that too many others won't be for it. If we just take the idea a little more seriously and talk about it more, that tide can start to turn.

The core of the resistance to this turning of the tide seems to involve a suspicion that much of the labor that our civilization depends on is, well, so laborious that no one will do it unless there's direct compensation. In response to that concern, we can observe:
1) People do laborious things without compensation all the time already. Hobbies, volunteering, caregiving, etc.
2) The laboriousness is increased by the profit motive, which incentivizes maximum consumption.
3) We often create employment - create labor - that serves little "objective" purpose besides giving people jobs (and therefore, money).
4) Our system incentivizes the hoarding of work - we actually hoard knowledge and skills and opportunities, as these give us increased access to scarce work.

There are some specific paths that could lead to a post-coercive, post-bureaucratic world. Occupation movements create zones of freedom, allowing the mechanisms of a free society to be practiced, refined, and demonstrated while leaving the political/economic system intact elsewhere. Another possible path is a rapid shift in the attitudes/opinions of large masses of people, such that our systems may be transformed rapidly by general consensus.

Let's keep challenging the assumption that it's impossible, or impossible within our lifetimes. The more we think about it, write about it, talk about it, demonstrate about it, etc., the closer we may come to making it a reality.

1 comment:

MTF said...

can all have wealth? what is wealth? can we change the definition of wealth?