The stories we tell ourselves are all essentially just lies that we tell ourselves so that we distract ourselves from noticing how shitty and meaningless our lives are.
I know that coming from me, a white male living in a 1st world nation, that sounds like I'm just being ignorant or bitchy about not having everything handed to me, but it's totally not the case.
I'm just recognizing what can only be described as a fact. Life is shitty. To be alive, no matter WHERE you live, is to suffer.
So let's get ethnocentric for a moment-- Here in the United States of America, we've got this narrative that we tell ourselves. That if you just work hard, do the right things, and you'll get ahead.
We go to school and school sucks, but we're told that we're supposed to endure being bored while being fed lies about Europeans who got lost and “discovered” places where people were already living, told a bunch of dates from history that have absolutely no meaning or relevance to our tiny myopic 10 year old universe, having dodgeballs hurled at our heads in gym class-- and with all of it done in shifts, like at a factory, which was designed to mentally prepare us for a life of working in all those factories that left the country 30 years ago. For our tests, we regurgitate answers without understanding them, and we accept things our teachers tell us without thinking about them. And we call that “learning.”
And it sucks, but we endure it all. In fact, we work really hard at doing well at this thing that sucks, because if we do well at this thing that sucks, it opens up this chain of possibilities for other things that suck, but supposedly lead to better things (but which in reality, also suck). If we do well in school, we're supposed to be able to get into a good university, and then we stress out and work really hard going to that university because if we do well, we supposed to be able to get a good job. And then you get a job, and you work really hard no matter how much you hate it, in the hopes of moving ahead in your career, so that eventually you'll get to a point in your life where your body is giving out, and your organs are failing, you can do all those fun things that you wanted to do in life.
But it's all a load of bullshit. We are constantly deferring our happiness today for this abstract happiness in the future which never materializes. And it's not going to either.
Well, I mean it could work out for you that you get your story book ending where you live happily ever after, but more likely than not, it's not going to work out that way. You're just going to keep suffering through the shit in front of you today, and then at the end, you just die, and it's all shit. It's just one long line of continuous shit from birth till death. Rather than getting ahead, you spend every day giving it your all just trying to keep what little you have, and then you're even losing ground, day after day, no matter how hard you work.
That procession of success we're all told to believe in is complete and utter bullshit. Some people have the right skills or the right connections and happen to be in the right spot at the right time and get lucky, but most people don't.
Some people don't go to college, walk into a street while drunk, get hit by a car, and end up with a huge settlement, and then invest it in something that makes them rich. Some people just happen to be born to the right parents. Some people just happen to be born to the wrong parents. There's just no fucking rhyme or reason to anything, and it's foolish to assume that anything in life is going to resemble ANYTHING like fairness.
Some people are able to amass huge amounts of wealth for no goddamned reason, and most people end up with little or nothing. That's how we currently organize our society. And part of that too, is that's just how life works-- some people get rewarded for doing the totally wrong thing, and some people get punished for doing everything right. Being successful in life seems to be a lot like winning the lottery-- it's just random chance, and it's totally out of your control.
Unless you happen to be born to the right parents, the parents of successful capitalists, and then you can use your money to do all your work for you. Then you can hire people to do other things for you. You can even hire people to do your hiring for you. You also get buy politicians, politicians who will change the laws to make it easier for you to do whatever the fuck you want to.
While there is abundance which can only be described as insane for a small few, that wealth is gathered by force from everybody else. And that is where poverty comes from.
So if we're living on a planet where odds are, you just happen to be born to the wrong parents, you know, parents with brown skin who live in a place without clean drinking water, how can we say, “well, there's some winners who profit from being born to rich people who use money to buy force to control natural resources and fuck other people over, and that's totally fine with me” and then call ourselves moral, or ethical?
If you subscribe to the theory that we live in a cold and uncaring universe, and that life on the planet earth is as fragile and meaningless as mold in a bathtub, you quickly realize that the world is filled with suffering FOR NO GODDAMNED REASON, and the very least that we can do is reduce the total amount of suffering on the planet by evening things out a little bit.
And that's why I'm a Democratic Socialist.
I can sympathize a lot because I used to believe almost exactly as you did. Then I came to think about what exactly "evening things out a bit" actually means. What I've come to think it means is just spreading that consumerist, 1st world notion of "success" (i.e. access to material goods) and making access to it a little easier. This isn't really going to help anyone, because it just means people keep running the same unhealthy rat race, but they are rewarded a little better for it. Meanwhile they are destroying themselves and more importantly the environment that we all depend on. This isn't a solution, it's just an amelioration of the symptoms of our materialist anti-culture. I think we can kill two birds with one stone, in other words make life better for those who are suffering now and take away the power of the "wealthy" to distribute that suffering by simply refusing to play their game; by realizing that the problem is not that factory jobs don't pay well enough, but that they are inherently alienating and destructive modes of living. They alienate us from ourselves, from each other, and from the Earth itself. No amount of unionization or minimum wage or democratic ownership are going to fix what is fundamentally an unhealthy, unnatural, dystopian lifestyle. This is why I can't be a socialist anymore, because modern socialism refuses to address the inherently destructive nature of industrial production itself that is entirely separate from whether it is owned by the capitalists or the workers. Socialism seeks to achieve the same end results as Capitalism, just with a more equitable distribution of consumer gadgets. I have even seen some critiques of the Soviet Union that basically amount to "well their real problem was they didn't have enough consumer products", never mind that one of the main arguments against capitalism is how it uses crappy disposable toys to distract people from how miserable their lives really are. That is why I'm no longer a democratic (or any other kind of) socialist.ReplyDelete