Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > How Working Relationships Became Useless or Adversarial

How Working Relationships Became Useless or Adversarial

One of the big lies propagated by ‘american dream’ is that if you work hard (slave) you can retire from work and enjoy your “golden years” by doing whatever you want. Let us for a moment ignore that real retirement is no longer an option for most people and your 60s or 70s are not the best time to start enjoying life. The more basic question is-

How can you create new and “better” relationships when your previous one was filled with useless and adversarial ones?

This is not a trivial question as most non-autistic people will require functional relationships, real or virtual, to enjoy life. I believe that the very nature of contemporary society makes forming and maintaining relationships impossible- and this is going to have some pretty interesting consequences as the system collapses on itself.

Part of the problem lies in what most people think consider ‘normal’ is not really normal. Throughout human prehistory and almost all of recorded history most people lived, ate, worked, fucked within a small and very slowly changing tight-knight group. The vast majority of people also had little material possessions therefore human relationships were supremely important. I am not suggesting that we go back to such eras, as that is neither desirable nor possible. But the fact is that the base of human society and its resilience comes from excellent interpersonal relationships- not wealth, money or status.

In the older system- your coworkers were also your family, friends and distant relatives. There was therefore no real separation between your working life and personal life. More importantly, the relationship between your coworkers extended outside of work and was non-adversarial. Let me repeat it- for almost all of mankind’s existence on earth you coworkers were not your competitors or adversaries.

Today your co-workers, around whom you spend over half your waking hours, are without exception useless, deceptive and adversarial creatures. There is of course the added complication of your family, wife, kids and ‘friends’ being the same. But how did it get this way? Some of you might see this as the result of some diabolical conspiracy by the “elite” to control people. I see it differently.. As I have said in many previous posts- the universe allows everything that is possible to occur despite the consequences. The change in the work relationships should then be seen as a consequence of the very nature of capitalism- increase in economic growth at all costs and irrespective of the final outcome.

The frequent displacement and separation of people, the polite backstabbing and barely concealed hostility in workplaces, competition for essentially worthless promotions and chasing opportunities for “career advancement” are merely symptoms of the underlying problem- capitalism is a system based on zero-sum games, artificial scarcity and legalized fraud. Ironically communism in real life was a lot like capitalism because it too was based on the idea of economic growth at all costs and irrespective of the final outcome.

It ultimately comes down to something we don’t like to talk about- changes in the last few hundred years have been increasingly driven by the need to show profit and growth on paper and spreadsheets regardless of the human costs or system stability. Technological changes and population growth helped cover these problems even as they became bigger in magnitude. However the sharp worldwide decrease in fertility over the last 2-3 decades and an inability to keep on improving technology at the previous rates have destroyed the ability of the system to cover the cracks and defects which are still growing at an ever accelerating rate.

So what does the future hold for us? I believe that we cannot go back to the old ways, even if we wanted to do so. I also believe that the general mindset of people in developed countries, especially the older ones, is unlikely to change. The future looks pretty bleak and dystopic unless the supporters of the current system.. you know.. just disappeared forever.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. March 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

    You spend your entire life with people you don’t like performing labor that doesn’t create any value for people who don’t care about you.

    All of life becomes an exercise in avoiding that one word question.


    Groups without cohesion lose to those held together by bonds of trust and loyalty.
    This is indeed exactly what is happening.

    and yet society pretends otherwise.

  2. Columnist
    March 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    You always ask the right questions, AD!!!

  3. webe
    March 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Good post. I cannot divine the future, but it worries me (have children). Our generation is having the last party. After that environmental degradation will start to impinge on the economy, just as the social fabric is strained to the limit in many ways. Socially I’m inclined to think that tribes and gangs will emerge again — they do everywhere that society breaks down enough. A lot of modern technology is based on a pretty gigantic scale of cooperation and world wide distribution of natural resources — it may become difficult to muster the required complexity.

    When nothing works anymore, you fall back on an earlier set of tools. I think the same will be true of society, but it will not be a going back: it will be more like recapitulation under very different circumstances.

  4. sth_txs
    March 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    “underlying problem- capitalism is a system based on zero-sum games, artificial scarcity and legalized fraud.”

    One of the more stupid comments in this post. How is ‘capitalism’ to blame? Socialism and communism suffer from the same issues namely that human beings are involved. Some have better morals than others, so blaming the idea capitalism is really stupid.

    Hi John Galt,

    Any system that is based on monetary profits or growth at the expense of everything else will suffer the same problems. Capitalism is just the most well known manifestation of that ideology.

    • Columnist
      March 11, 2012 at 1:16 am

      Exploitation can be prevented by a guaranteed minimum income. Then the entepreneurs have to work for their money. On the other hand, we can allow a flat tax to maximize revenue. Think of the Laffer Curve.

  5. March 11, 2012 at 1:52 am

    “you can retire from work and enjoy your “golden years” by doing whatever you want”

    One of the things I still never understand about this mentality is that the 60s and 70s are supposed to be the best years. It seems that such people see themselves as eternally young, if not immortal.

    • InT
      March 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

      It’s complete bullshit. It seemed absurd to me the first time I learned about it as a kid; “adults really believe this?” I asked myself.

      I think people knew they were bullshitting themselves, but they allowed the lie to float because they had kids and needed to work hard to support them.

      Fast forward to now, where many people aren’t having kids. What’s the point of slaving away so you can “enjoy life” when you’re old and broken? Yeah, so you can go on vacation whenever you want, never knowing when you’ll need an “extended hospital vacation” or a permanent vacation in an old folks home.

      It’s an insane belief and only a hardcore workaholic would think otherwise. But many people still seem to slave away for that ever-elusive carrot. I guess the system is just designed to brainwash people like that.

  6. March 11, 2012 at 11:59 am

    This is my favorite post of yours ever.

    Why base a society on adversarial competition when we could base it on cooperation?

    Oh — because that would require we give up the idea of everyone having unlimited potential.

    Probably bad for marketing.

  7. etype
    March 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    good article

  8. InT
    March 12, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I wonder if feminism and the hostility against men (as well as other hostile ideologies) are just an outgrowth of this increasingly backstabbing, fuck-everybody-else culture.

    I’ve never seen anybody connect this to reduced fertility. An interesting thought.

  1. August 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

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