Friday, 1 July 2016

Wage Labour as a Form of Prostitution

The concept of having a job is relatively new, dating only from the mid 1600's. The structure of a job is basically as such: one sells one's labour is exchange for money. Whether one is a computer programming or construction worker or cashier, the exchange works the same way as long as one is working for a wage. This exchange structure, incidentally is the very same as that for prostitution. The prostitute sells his or her labour to a john, in exchange for a payment of money. Prostitution differs from construction work in that it is considered unethical, but pause should be given to consider the similarities of the underlying mechanisms. Key to both the situation of the wage labourer (job holder) and the prostitute is that they both lack independent means to support themselves and must turn to selling their labour to sustain their existence. There is little escape from this system once one is in it, save suddenly becoming quite rich (an idea offered out by those in power as a carrot to keep the workers going, even though social mobility is diminishing more and more and wealth inequality is on the rise), and going on welfare.

Once getting their money, the worker then transforms roles from labour seller (prostitute) to labour purchaser (john). The worker goes out with his paycheque and gets other to sell their labour to him. The cashier and waiter must service him, whether or not it is their true desire or ambition, because they are ultimately poor and must find some way to sell their labour pay their rent somehow. The workers must compete with each other to sell their labours, which leads to workers having to specialize. This specialization system is encoded into the education system and can be a downfall for anyone with multiple interests who would like to try out many jobs over the course of their life.

And what about those in the society that don't sell their labour for money? Let's look at the rentier class, those who live off rents, patents, dividend payouts and capital gains. Whereas the rentiers do not need to prostitute themselves by selling their labour, they nonetheless encounter only those prostituting their labour wherever they go as they spend their money, on for example kitchen renovations. The rentiers are thereby alienated from a great portion of society, as they do not share the dual role of worker/consumer (prostitute/john) but act only as johns.

How could there be a path out of this job system? The answer is clearly to be found by looking at how people lived before around 1600. Modern tribes in remote regions also offer some clues. Simply put, the people had access to land to sustain themselves, and worked to support each other and provide for each other without any need for money of any sort. Without money, there can be no exploitative job system. Could we provide for each other without the need for money in our 21st century mass society? Or are we stuck with the job system we have forever?

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