Archive for May 15, 2011

Retirement is the Secular Version of Afterlife

May 15, 2011 10 comments

All traditional religions have some concept of an afterlife and profess that the soul is immortal. The basic idea behind these currently unprovable concepts can be summed up as-

There is an existence beyond the physical realm.

I, for one, neither care or believe in such bullshit. Anything that cannot be perceived or quantified is suspect, especially if indirect and circumstantial evidence is lacking. However, many religious and often poor people believe in this crap and keep on living otherwise shitty lives slaving away for priests and nobles of that era. While traditional religion has declined over the last 100 years, secular religions have risen up to fill that gap.

Capitalism is a secular religion which promises old age prosperity to people who are willing to sacrifice their youth, happiness, dignity and health. Let us, for a moment, ignore that the current financial paradigm and input conditions are incompatible with a decent retirement for most people, including baby-boomers.

The more fundamental question is-

Why sacrifice happiness in your youth for the chance to enjoy life when your body is failing?

You might have noticed that doing traditional ‘grown-up’ things like studying hard, living frugally, caring about your employer, buying a house, marrying, having kids etc is now the path to ruin, rather than happiness. So why do many people still care about the distant future? In my opinion, people care about retirement for the same reason they believe in an afterlife- they believe that their hard work, humiliations, stress and deprivation will not be in vain.

Believing in retirement or afterlife allows them to ignore/ rationalize their current abuse and exploitation.

Therefore destroying belief in the current concept of retirement is necessary for destroying capitalism, as we know it. I am not implying that we throw old people under the bus, unless they are white. Maybe we could have a system that provides a decent middle-class lifestyle to every old person regardless of whether they saved, invested or slaved away in their youth.