I don’t believe humans beings should rent themselves out in order to live.
-Professor Noam Chomsky
I’m not a morning person.
Never have been and never will be. I’m super slow and it takes me forever to get things started for my day. Under normal circumstances, 9am is a far more civilized time to wake up.
I really resent not listening to my own body’s internal clock and being forced to wake up everyday at 6:30am in order to make it to my desk at 8:30am. I think it’s unnatural to wake up when it is still dark outside especially during the long, cold winter months. I can’t understand how Michelle Obama can willingly wake up at 4:30am to exercise everyday. It seems inhuman, robotic and freakish.
I started to think about where the hell did this stupid 9 to 5 schedule come from? Who created it? Why? And most of all, why the hell is it being imposed on me and millions of others who don’t want these hours?
“The Protestant work ethic (PWE) (or the Puritan work ethic) is a concept in sociology, economics and history, attributable to the work of Max Weber. It is based upon the notion that the Calvinist emphasis on the necessity for hard work as a component of a person’s calling and worldly success is a visible sign or result (not a cause) of personal salvation… The term was first coined by Max Weber in his The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. The Protestant work ethic is often credited with helping to define the societies of Northern Europe and other countries where Protestantism was common (for example, the Scandinavian countries, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America)…. In such societies, it is regarded by some as one of the cornerstones of national prosperity. They argue that people in countries with Protestant roots tend to be more focused on effective working practices when compared to people in many Catholic countries (for example, South America, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and France) where, they would argue, the people have a more lax attitude towards work.”
Let’s deconstruct this, shall we?
This snippet from Wiki is basically saying that the reason why some countries are more “successful” economically than others is because they were willing to work their asses off and live to work as opposed to these other countries like Spain, and Italy, where they work in order to live.
Notice a few things here before we proceed:
Protestant Countries —> national local cuisine usually sucks pretty bad, food is seen as fuel/sustenance, something you eat in order to keep working, bad holiday spots, places you don’t want to retire to, and people are usually emotionally constipated, looking out for number one
Catholic Countries—> fantastic food, food is a sensual experience, to be savoured, enjoyed and appreciated, places you holiday in and want to retire to, hotter guys and gals, better social life, very strong family ties
And this doesn’t even touch on the Orthodox countries (Greece, Russia, Serbia etc.) or countries and cultures in Africa, Asia and indigenous cultures worldwide which are diametrically different to the PWE in how they view and approach work.
It goes back further than the PWE. If you go further back in time, it goes back to those medieval Northern European farmers who had to wake up early in order to till their land during daylight hours in order to produce a bit of wheat to make their bread in a climate (cold and windy) and in soil (rocky or sandy) which was not conducive to agriculture or farming. You have to work the soil and land very hard and for many hours in order to make very little in order to live. Those hours which those medieval German farmers worked have now been imposed on all of us.
Compare this to say, a place like Bengal (West Bengal in India and East Bengal which is now Bangladesh).
The Himalayas, each year during their spring run offs, carries with it dirt, soil and rocks which is carried through the rivers and tributories of the Ganges, the Bramaputra, the Narmada rivers. This silt is deposited in the flatter areas before heading out into the Bay of Bengal. After millions of years of the same, ongoing environmental forces, combined with a warm, tropical climate, the soil which now sits in Bengal is amongst the most fertile in the world. A bird can leave a dropping and literally the next day, a guava tree is starting to grow. In short, you don’t have to work the land very much in order to eat and crop yields are still among the highest per acre in the world despite the poverty and the flooding.
This extra free time allowed Bengal to develop into the intellectual capital of India and led to an outburst of creativity called the Bengali Renaissance. Even now, you go to India and there is an idiom which goes, “What Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow.” A very high concentration of spiritual giants and teachers come from Bengal,Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Paramahansa Yogananda. Tantric teachings first came into being in medieval Bengal and eventually migrated northwards and has since been pickled in Tibetan Buddhism. Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to win a Nobel Prize in literature is Bengali and both the national anthems of India and Bangladesh are by him. Satyajit Ray, considered one of the most influential film directors of all time and is idolized by the likes of Martin Scorsese, James Ivory and Ismael Merchant of Merchant Ivory fame, Francois Truffaut and more recently Wes Anderson, is also Bengali. Those are just the arts. The list in the sciences goes on and on and on.
The British caught on, very early, that Bengal was naturally very productive which is why when they colonized India and established the East India Trading Company, they made their capital Calcutta (Kolkata) and were able to siphon off their spoils back to England which helped them to finance the Industrial Revolution and the West has never, ever looked back since.
It’s not just Bengal. I’m only using Bengal to illustrate a point because I know that example the best. This happened in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zaire, Algeria, the Congo, South America. Any place that was stamped with colonialism and imperialism suffered the same fate. And it continues today in places like Iraq, Palestine and East Timor.
A discussion of imperialism and the history of colonialism is way beyond the scope of these musings, but what is very important to also note is that forcing other peoples and cultures to join the market economy (and market hours) only works if a few key factors are in place.
1) Eradicate or control the history of those places.
If you destroy a people’s history, you destroy a part of their identity and they have nothing to fight you back with. If you control the historical narrative, they can’t come up with a better argument against your points. The Spanish conquistadors built all their early churches and monuments on Aztec, Mayan or Inca sites in Latin America. When the Romans conquered Egypt, the first place which was put to the torch was the Library of Alexandria, with all those ancient and irreplaceable scrolls, maps and treatises from ancient Greece and beyond. Many churches and cathedrals in North America are built on Native American burial grounds. Even now, many Indians don’t even know their own history. Part of it was because before the arrival of the British, much of it wasn’t recorded. Another part of it is climate. It is so infernally hot and humid; things decay very, very quickly, say unlike in Egypt where the dry desert heat has kept the mummies and temples in good condition.
This is going on as we speak in Iraq and on Native and Aboriginal reservations. When American forces entered Baghdad, one of the first places to be looted was the museum. Priceless antiquities from Babylon, Sumer and Mesopotamia hit the black market and ballooned the coffers of art dealers in London, New York and Paris, thus robbing any future scholars of the ability to analyze them further and add to our understanding of what those early civilizations were about. Native Americans once numbered 80 million. They are now down to 800 000. With their loss, goes their stories, knowledge and myths which offer us another, probably truer and richer history and worldview than what the schoolbooks tell us.
If you do want to study the ancient Indus River Valley civilizations, guess where you need to go? Cambridge or Oxford. If you want to study Incan pre-history, you need to go to Yale. No one except the Pope has complete access to the Vatican library. They have monopolized access to the very few sources we have left.
2) Attack their faith, undermine it completely or introduce foreign elements when they aren’t looking.
Korea used to be known as a Buddhist/Confuscius/Shamanistic country. Many of them were not dyed-in-the-wool Buddhists and were not particularly religious but were a bit lax in their observations. Enter the Korean War. Enter the Christian (American) missionaries. Enter the PWE. Enter Korea joining the G-20. Enter young Koreans not having a clue as to why they are going to Church, observing a foreign religion and not knowing a thing about their own spiritual traditions.
The new spiritual battlefront is Africa, which the American Evangelical churches have made major inroads particularly the Methodist church. No doubt because the area around sub-Saharan Africa has been designated as the new area where jobs and manufacturing industry will be moved to after places like China, Bangladesh and Vietnam become too expensive and they are propping it up and getting it ready.
Once you control the way people think, pray and believe, everything else, including economics, is insanely simple.
Chris Hedges had this to say in one of his articles over at TruthDig.com
“Dying civilizations often prefer hope, even absurd hope, to truth. It makes life easier to bear. It lets them turn away from the hard choices ahead to bask in a comforting certitude that God or science or the market will be their salvation. ..We busy ourselves with the absurd. We invest our emotional life in reality shows that celebrate excess, hedonism and wealth…The celebrities and reality television stars whose foibles we know intimately live indolent, self-centered lives in sprawling mansions or exclusive Manhattan apartments. They parade their sculpted and surgically enhanced bodies before us in designer clothes. They devote their lives to self-promotion and personal advancement, consumption, parties and the making of money. They celebrate the cult of the self. And when they have meltdowns we watch with gruesome fascination. This empty existence is the one we are taught to admire and emulate. This is the life, we are told we can all have…The incessant chasing after status, personal advancement and wealth has plunged most of the country into unmanageable debt. …They seek identity through products. They occupy their leisure time in malls buying things they do not need. Those of working age spend their weekdays in little cubicles, if they still have steady jobs, under the heels of corporations that have disempowered American workers and taken control of the state and can lay them off on a whim. It is a desperate scramble. No one wants to be left behind. The propagandists for globalism are the natural outgrowth of this image-based and culturally illiterate world. They speak about economic and political theory in empty clichés. They cater to our subliminal and irrational desires. They select a few facts and isolated data and use them to dismiss historical, economic, political and cultural realities. They tell us what we want to believe about ourselves. They assure us that we are exceptional as individuals and as a nation. They champion our ignorance as knowledge. They tell us that there is no reason to investigate other ways of organizing and governing our society. Our way of life is the best. Capitalism has made us great. They peddle the self-delusional dream of inevitable human progress. They assure us we will be saved by science, technology and rationality and that humanity is moving inexorably forward.
None of this is true. It is a message that defies human nature and human history. But it is what many desperately want to believe. And until we awake from our collective self-delusion, until we carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the corporate state and sever ourselves from the liberal institutions that serve the corporate juggernaut, we will continue to be rocketed toward a global catastrophe.”
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