Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Self-sufficiency vs. Life in the Unemployed Reserve Army

At one point in time, one could provide for oneself and one's family without the need to turn to corporations to provide goods and services. This is no longer the case. What happened and why?

Key to the self-sufficient lifestyle is access to land for items like firewood, drinking water, and herding and gardening activities. In the middle ages there were common lands (no titled owners) that people (commoners) could access. Starting from the 17th century, a process known as the enclosure began. Wealthy landowners began getting title to lands and forcing the once free people on the land into serfs. The landowners got their title from the state, foreshadowing the corporate-state nexus we know so well today.

Taking away people's self sufficient paved the way for capitalism, because the capitalist system requires people to be dependent on it. The systems needs dependents to ensure there are enough labourers in the unemployed reserve army. This army of unemployed people desperate for work consists of people who are not self-sufficient, who cannot provide their own needs, and ideally are in debt. The members of the unemployed reserve army will try to out-bid one another in a race to the bottom when it comes to determining wages when selling their labour to the capitalists. This suits the capitalists perfectly, as they can make more profit when they pay the labourers less. In this case is one of the comparitively rare instances where state intervenes on behalf of the labourers, rather than the capitalists, by instituting a minimum wage. Some capitalists complain that the minimum wage is an unjust tax on them.

The members in the unemployed reserve army are awash in propaganda from the capitalists, promising them a wealth of commodities, gizmos and gadgets if only they would find a way to sell their labour, via non-stop marketing messages. Those that make it out of the unemployed reserve army into the work force find themselves continuously dependent on the system and unable to quit due to racking up of debts. Given that a typical mortgage amortization period is 30 years, it's mostly ensured the workers will continue to cooperatively trudge along most of their adult lives in their jobs no matter how little interest they have in their jobs.

And how to be free of periods of unemployment followed by alienating work? This would require being self-sufficient. But to be self-sufficient would require access to land (usually through title), and acceptance of a simpler less commodity-heavy lifestyle - two things the system certainly works to keep of of the reach of its labourers.

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