Ourobouros

Ourobouros

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Genre: Non-Fiction

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Status: Finished

Genre: Non-Fiction

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Summary

This is an essay I wrote in 2012. I think it fits more now than it did then. I had some foresight.
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Summary

This is an essay I wrote in 2012. I think it fits more now than it did then. I had some foresight.

Content

Submitted: March 11, 2017

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Content

Submitted: March 11, 2017

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Ourobouros
The reduction of life into physical or virtual currency is a symptom of the frailty that exists in the interactions between social structures such as government and economy. Labor is a proverbial poker chip between the two systems. The obligation of holding a job is socially reinforced, and many people have been told repeatedly that the relationship between government and economy are functioning as it should. Given the social adherence to the system’s interactions, I was blind to mechanisms that were in place to maintain complacency. Investing in people just enough for them to remain healthy enough to produce as much as possible in their hopeful forty year stint of work is the main objective; after all, companies are not meant to be altruistic or benevolent—they’re meant to make money.

Doubt of being able to make a difference immobilized me, but I later learned that contagious hopelessness is what has allowed government to perpetuate itself through pocketing monetary resources supplied by big business despite not serving its original function—maintaining public safety and order. The bribery by lobbyists, among other tactics, has placed government under the sway of businesses that have only their own best interests at heart. So, the tale of imposed hierarchy unfolds once more, laughing in the face of illusory equality. Purposeful, independent living has been supplanted by a prospect-driven life of dependence and obligation to an external force, and an individual yields their existence and independence for production and/or services to another person or group of people. Thus, the repercussions of alienation and dehumanization through bonded labor, such as human ownership due to degradation of humans into commodities and chronic rates of depression as a result of the need to consume additional commodities, promotes child cash crops and commodity cannibalism that merely siphons the resources from the populace for the sake of inflating profit margins; though a future of this path seems bleak, I argue that emboldening those who want to exist with a purpose greater than social obligations should reject the current precipice, and strive to rise against the monetary marginalization of humanity through mass defunding of big business and gradual social reinvention.

Karl Marx, a sociologist and philosopher in the late 1800s, mentions that jobs can be a creative outlet for people (37). Ergo, work is not inherently alienating or dehumanizing, because it can allow individuals to have directed motivations which can bring someone to the water’s edge of a purpose-driven life. Giving individuals tasks to accomplish allows the human mind to do what it does best—solve problems. An example of problems solving involved resources being unavailable to many, and it was solved with a socially agreed upon trading system that required money. Currency was given value in good faith, and it gave individuals extrinsic motivation to work.

Money that occupations can generate is not, in itself, inconducive to living a comfortable life of purpose; a sense of humanity and interconnectedness is not diluted by its presence. Treating people with respect while earning funding to survive is not a marginalizing experience for those who understand that people are the central reason for trade—not money. Entrepreneurship is an illustration of how work can be both fulfilling and dignified, and it also shows that jobs are not intrinsically detrimental to health and happiness. Work, which once fostered human interaction, can allow a person to find purpose.

A purpose-driven life embraces human extents while challenging limitations. Altruism is a major portion of the purpose-driven life, because it is an action that can be associated with internal desire to help another that is in need. Lately, need has been boiled down to resources. Yet, I argue that people often necessitate more than what money can buy—friendship, compassion, love, peace, and joy. In opposition, big business marketing wants to make it seem as if items would fulfill all needs that people have. I have experienced a loss of faith in the dynamics of two socially contrived systems that were meant for the betterment of society, economy and government, which have alchemized the purpose-driven life into the prospect-driven life.

The prospect-driven life opposes the purpose-driven life, in that it is guided by externalities. Externalities, such as career prospects and monetary increases, are set high above the internal drives for creativity and innovation. Career prospects and monetary influx can open doors to the higher tier of individuals we have to choose from for mates and support systems. More popular commodities can be acquired as well so that the individual can maintain or increase status in a social circle. Thus, the individual that is rented daily for production/service sacrifices their belief in purpose to fulfill a prospect-driven fantasy. A socially engineered necessity to accrue copious amounts of resources walks in the shadows of illusory freedom, and the stage is set for alienation to give rise to dehumanization in order to justify disempowering a purpose-driven existence.

Historically speaking, this country was founded on the principle of not owing government anything; the whole conceptualization was to allow families to be independent by owning land they could cultivate and use for their needs. According to the Tax Foundation who has a written history on the tax system, in 1895, the Supreme Court found taxation to be unconstitutional; it was not until 1913 that taxes became a permanent part of daily obligations (n.p.) In that year, the stage for bonded labor was set. National debts are at the forefront of the economic crises today, and more workers are needed to pay off a deficit that has not even dissipated. New generations are provided with heavier saddles as the symptom of dehumanization becomes increasingly problematic.

Social psychologist Jason D. Gwinn and a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado Charles M. Judd wrote a study, called “Less Power = Less Human? Effects Of Power Differentials On Dehumanization", about the effects of power and the rates of humanity given to individuals that were given less or more power respectively; the two researchers found that those who were elevated in power (e.g. had more money/authority) were distanced from the lesser-powered participants, and that the powerful tended to objectify and feel less empathy for others (469). The researcher’s findings have numerous, disquieting implications. The results allude to emotional disconnect found between employees and their employers, and enhances the resolution on the beliefs held by many in society today—that jobs with higher pay make an individual more human. People who are thought of as less human essentially become commodities to buy and sell.

Social Darwinism, anthropologists Daniel Bates and Elliot Fratkin argue, is a mechanism to legitimize the treatment of others as subhuman, is often involved with the process of dehumanization; it states that “survival of the fittest” is the way society should work, and that the rich should stay rich as long as the poor exist to fail to maintain their resources (41). So, to perpetuate dominance over others, an assumption of dominance is made. The easiest way to go about controlling others is to morally disengage to justify reducing a person into an asset or commodity; this takes away the drive to seek purpose and allows individuals to be drawn in by the Sirens of illusory opportunity. Last I checked human ownership was outlawed in the western world many years ago; yet, it was taken out of the personal dwellings of the public and into the streets of modern day capitalism.

  Human ownership does not end with one generation, but progeny are also introduced to this profiteering cycle; fields of innocence become a cash crop ripe for exploitation via prospect addiction. Children are born to replace the old, worn workhorses of the last generation, and they are bought and then ID’d by the government via social security numbers. As young individuals, the newest Playstation/Xbox consoles and IPhones give them a sense of identity, and introduce them to the idea of commodity fulfillment. So, they will chase the misapprehension that adulthood will be fulfilling, but the sad truth is the moment they gain independence, they will be more dependent on people who only care about profit.  Consequentially, children will be the targets of multi-billion dollar corporations that make decisions for that generation as to what their identity will consist of through the use of logos.

With bonded labor and child cash crops in mind, a conceptualization arises to illustrate the breadth of what has been happening: The subhuman commodity desires to consume other commodities (e.g. name brand clothing, fast food, IPhones, etc.), and the owners reap the resources recently given to the worker in terms of wages. In a sort of commodity cannibalism cycle, national debts are diminutively assuaged as many people give their whole lives to the control of others; the Ouroboros of our time is in plain view. Millions of people are already owned by big business, and are paid a pittance that is justified by “the greater good”; the kicker is that “the greater good” is a cliché, a sword and shield, the few can hide behind. The daily, monthly, and yearly cycles of self-sacrifice are not lost on those who realize their upcoming, and present, burdens.

Sadly, I have watched as loved ones and friends, reduced to their work, carry too much to care about their own well-being, and psychophysiological ramifications surface more often than not. Healthline, a website that hosts many different health statistics, stated that rates of depression alone are climbing by about 20% a year in this country due to heart disease among other variables (n.p.).  The influx of health issues would not be occurring if copious amounts of stress were not put on people. That large of a yearly increase is a stark reminder of hopelessness that has spread among people who have worked all their lives with nothing to show for it. The frightening part is that Healthline does not have statistics on every individual, so the projected trend may be even higher. To curb the impending epidemic of psychological impoverishment, much reform needs to take place so that the future is not as hopeless or demoralizing as is feared.

To start, a short-term goal of addressing governmental and economic interaction needs to take place, because government is used by corporatocracy as a shield against having to take responsibility for the reduction of life into monetary gains; lobbying is the midwife of such transactions against the independence of people. A financial education expert named Manish Sahajwani splits hairs saying that lobbying is not bribery, because bribery happens on an individual level (n.p.). Yet, senators and/or congresspersons have taken money from lobbyists to push the ends of big business. Is this 1984’s manifestation of doublespeak?

Just as human ownership and bonded labor are said not to be a western practice, bribery is not either because it is simply called something else. The whole point of lobbying is to pay for an individual in power to turn the other way while being empowered to conduct otherwise illegal activity. Some lobbyists do work for a good cause though, so simply rewriting laws to prevent public officials from taking money from companies would be the first step to defunding large corporations that are allegedly too big to fail. This would take away lobbyist’s ability to use government officials as tools just as they do with workers. When big business’ teeth are taken away, real reform can take place.

Gaining food independence from big business would also be a way to defund the current corporatocracy. Buying from local farmers would be beneficial to local economies. Supporting local entrepreneurs could help as well, because social bonds can be formed to increase empathy which facilitates equality.
 In addition, growing personal food would help individuals gain a bit of independence. This is not to say that I condone blowing society back to an agricultural society though. These are just measures to give some power back to the people so they can be empowered by reducing dependence on an inhumane system. With empowerment, independence, and perseverance, a process of reinventing social systems to not necessitate bonded labor can take hold.

Reform, a long-term goal, could take the shape of reinvention of social constructs. The human species no longer needs to exist to only subsist, because we have the resources and the knowledge to make real headway into increasing the living standards across the globe. Yet, I, along with others, are still operating in a rusted framework that is so caught up in accumulating resources for opportunities that the chance to transcend socially imposed trends is limited. I found it simple to be captured in the cage of fear that is set by change, but it has been difficult to find freedom in the current social systems that stunt the growth and potential of billions of people.

I cannot claim to know how to fully reinvent society, but I can understand that human beings can be so much more than work horses/commodities. With abilities of compassion, respect, intelligence, curiosity, fairness, purpose, and theory of mind, new heights of purpose could be reached if there was an exodus out of outdated means of social control. Yet, this would take many generations to achieve to avoid anomie.

Organic life thrives in environments conducive to its needs. The current world stage is not meeting increasing needs of self-actualization and transcendence. Dehumanization, bonded labor, and the reduction of existence into prospects are all symptoms of a stagnating social atmosphere that induces Ouroboros. The beauty of cycles is that they can abolish what exists in order to rebuild what was lost in a refined manner. If the public can reclaim their lives by refusing to serve an external system that seeks to tread on their existence by keeping them in a perpetual state of economic-induced fear, an emotional terrorism of sorts, then we may be able to reframe the context in which we operate. Promoting empathy and celebrating humanity would be a way to realize and achieve internal purpose and social independence.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited
Gwinn, Jason D., Charles M. Judd, and Bernadette Park. "Less Power = Less Human? Effects Of Power Differentials On Dehumanization." Journal Of Experimental Social Psychology 49.3 (2013): 464-470. PsycINFO. Web. 24 Jan. 2014.
Israel, Joachim. Alienation From Marx To Modern Sociology. Amitai Etzioni. Allyn and Bacon, Inc. Boston. (1971): 37. Print.
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html
Sahajwani, Manish. “The Differences Between Bribery and Lobbying”. Investopedia. http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0912/the-differences-between-bribery-and-lobbying.aspx.  (2014): 2 Feb. 2014. Web.


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