An unintentionally amusing opinion piece here by “German philosopher” Peter Sloterdijk.
As translated by Alexis Cornel
we have become accustomed to the fact that a handful of productive citizens provide more than half of national income-tax revenues
Yet the philosopher doesn’t define his terms. What does it mean for a citizen to be “productive”? (As opposed, perhaps, to be being a “nutzlose Fresser”?) Is the philosopher himself productive? How about a stripper? Or the CEO of a too-big-to-fail bank? Or an arms merchant? Or a tobacco farmer?
According to Bob Black
Only a small and diminishing fraction of work serves any useful purpose independent of the defense and reproduction of the work-system and its political and legal appendages. Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done — presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now — would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. Right off the bat we can liberate tens of millions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stockbrokers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad-men and everyone who works for them. There is a snowball effect since every time you idle some bigshot you liberate his flunkeys and underlings also. Thus the economy implodes.
Forty percent of the workforce are white-collar workers, most of whom have some of the most tedious and idiotic jobs ever concocted. Entire industries, insurance and banking and real estate for instance, consist of nothing but useless paper-shuffling. It is no accident that the “tertiary sector,” the service sector, is growing while the “secondary sector” (industry) stagnates and the “primary sector” (agriculture) nearly disappears. Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order. Anything is better than nothing.
According to Sloterdijk
We have already written the title of the next chapter of our history: “The pillage of the future by the present.”
True, but only because that’s the title of every chapter of our history.
Sloterdijk focuses on money instead of real wealth.
Update (30/Nov//2010): According to Rodger Jacobs, according to George Orwell,
I am trying to go beyond the immediate economic cause and to consider what pleasure it can give anyone to think of men swabbing dishes (in a restaurant kitchen) for life. For there is no doubt that people – comfortably situated people – do find a pleasure in such thoughts. A slave, Marcus Cato said, should be working when he is not sleeping … I believe that the instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at the bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are such low animals that they would be dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think.