19 July 2010

Work is work is work

In every era of class society, there has been a mystique woven around certain kinds of work - the idea that only a Special Chosen Few can do it, and therefore they have the right to own slaves / dispose of serfs / order common gutter proles around. In ancient Egyptian times, it was reading and writing (actually, that was pretty much the case in mediaeval Europe as well). In the early capitalist era, it was abstract, scientific thought and the ability to make arguments - you might remember in particular there were all kinds of "scientific" (by the lights of the age) studies made proven that women just could not think abstractly very much before their brains overheated or their wombs shrivelled up or something.

The modern capitalist era, based on increasing automation of production and outsourcing of manual labour to countries outside the noosphere of "Western media culture", has swept this all aside, because it has to teach higher order thinking skills to the vast majority of the working class or else live with the consequences of a permanent unemployable underclass. (Actually, they do a bit of both). Now, the mystique of labour inheres in two kinds of work:

- leadership skills (i.e. the cult of the CEO, management voodoo, etc).
- creative work;

Both these kinds of work are presented as if they needed a certain genius not available to common gutter proles. The first category carries with it the ideology that "the ruling class deserve to be where they are"; the second category carries with it the ideology that "middle-class occupations deserve a certain status in our society". As explored before, since the creative classes now provide the mass indoctrination/hypnosis necessary to keep the proles accustomed to their lot, via the media, it is vital that the ruling class cut them a significant slice of the pie.

A real revolution would have to spread not only Lenin's idea that "every cook can and will govern", but that - for example - every garbageman is capable of artistic expression, creative thought, and even religious ectasy. (As to the latter, remember that in every country the mass-market forms of religion are employed to give the gutter proles a metaphysical "high" every Sunday or Friday or whatever, in return for making shyster-clerics rich. R. A. Wilson was right that there'll be hell to pay when the proles work out that everyone can do this for themselves.)

So: any revolutionary organisation where leadership and/or creative thinking are reserved to a minority is simply reproducing the norms of class society and needs a shakeup. This is easier said than done, of course.