Retirement is the Secular Version of Afterlife

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.


  1. May 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    “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.”

    You mean a system based on family.

  2. almost 40 yoV
    May 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Good point about the “afterlife”.

    And the (you call it secular I call it Illuminati) religion is sex.

  3. May 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Mr. Devil, on this particular matter we seem to have been thinking in parallel.

  4. Webe
    May 16, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Disagree: Hope is life; even if it is all false and futile, those with hope (youth) will always overwhelm those who elect to make the best of what life remains.

    There is a big difference between those without children (Let’s have one last party before it ends), and those with (What will be their inheritance? — in the broadest sense).

    I have long thought that history will regard our period as the civilization whose highest ideal was a comfortable retirement. It is a feeble religion, about to be washed away. Retirement is no substitute for yearning for human community.

  5. Deus
    May 16, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Life itself is pointless, as are any sacrifices you make today towards a “better” future Look at the guys who fought in World War 2. That was barely 60 years ago. What did they die for? What do we have today? iPods and slutty diseased whores, broken families and debt.

    Maybe work towards “progress”, towards a “better world”. No such thing exists. Gays had more rights 3000 years ago in ancient Greece than they do today. Women had perfect equality in ancient Egypt, 2000 years before that. Did those civilization survive? Nope. What they believed in died eventually.

    The only purpose life has is to enjoy it to the fullest and fuck all the rest.

  6. May 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Very true, it might all be pointless.

    But as Webe points out, actually assuming everything is pointless is a losing strategy.
    You will lose out to those who look to a point and a future, whether or not everything they believe is true.

    The beliefs that get selected for in societies are the beliefs that lead to resilient and competitive societies.

    Nihilistic assumptions undermine and strip of meaning. Throughout history, widespread nihilism is a sign of social decay. This is because the doctrine of a pointless universe not only lacks the potential to inspire, it actively kills motivation.

    Can you really be sure all is for naught?

    Too many people who insist on meaninglessness seem like they’re afraid of getting duped or tricked somehow.
    But if the universe is truly empty, who is there to laugh at you for falling for it?

  7. May 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Work is obsolete anyway. It’s just a matter of time til something (dare we hope for a universal minimum income?) replaces it almost entirely.

  8. May 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Yes, Analingus Diablo, Religion was the drug of the masses, now people believe things will be better when they get old. Savings rates are pathetic and I think it was 2009-2010 where 401k’s actually went in the negative and you were better off if you had money in a low interest CD. Meanwhile the government amasses non sustainable debt loads….

    Also, health insurance–those crooked fuckers make their money denying legit claims rather than paying out….

    There was an old Henry Rollins quote that said something like Keep you mind sharp, your body lean and your blood clean….

  9. jack
    May 23, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I think you are confusing actual capitalism, which is the private control of business, with financial crony capitalism/corporatism , which is the current paradigm in the US.

    If I start a simple automotive repair business and work for myself for years, setting my own hours and saving for retirement while owning all my own equipment, that is capitalism.

    Socialism just means that no matter how hard I try to provide for myself, I always have to drag some other lazy bastard along for the ride.

    The problem is corporatism, not capitalism.

  1. May 22, 2011 at 1:15 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: