Labour Pains of Social Change

A piece of Stencil Art. Author Dfrg.msc
Creative Commons 3.0

The problem we are faced with is traditional thinking, the mindset of the way forward being growth and jobs.

I can understand it, we have been raised in this social environment all our lives, of course, however there are many signs of failure and they are all pointing at the same cause. We have massive unemployment to be sure, yet we also have the much less discussed issue of under-employment. We have climate change marching ever closer, the continual loss of global biodiversity and the impending depletion of our all important oil reserves. It is all intertwined.

Our technological advancements are replacing jobs, faster than new ones can be invented, spending is down resulting in reduced employment hours, which feeds back to reduced spending. All the while productivity is actually increasing. We want growth in the jobs market, to get the people back to work and to increase spending. Unfortunately this growth has a negative impact on our environment as we produce and throw away increasing amounts of junk we really never needed.

What we need in society is less, not more, and the less needs to be done much more efficiently. Our economy needs to be, well, economic. We don’t need a new iphone every year or so, we need a phone which is built to last and is easy to upgrade. We don’t need thirty different types of hammer and T.V. or a lawn mower in every home, we need to focus on building the best we can produce. In short we need global collaboration not competition.

We are currently going through the labour pains of social change, our hand is being forced as we come to understand that our social model is simply not sustainable. Change could actually happen very quickly, but we are all being held back by the antiquated thinking of those, such as our politicians, whom have only one solution: more toxic growth.

Growth for the sake of growth on a planet of finite resources is a recipe for disaster, the only thing on our planet that continually grows is cancer. As Einstein said so many years ago.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

It is time for a new way of thinking.

soccer practice woodleywonderworks
CC BY 2.0 Generic

The reality we have created with our old competitive world view is one of widening inequality and suffering. We need to start thinking more about each other, what it is we can do to help each other, not how we can get ahead of or be better off than each other, if we are to ever ease suffering and reduce inequality. We need a society which is focussed on cooperation and making the best, most efficient use of our limited resources, so we may sustain a high standard of living for everyone. We have all the tools we need in order to start making this a reality. This very tool we are using right now, the internet, allows us to communicate over vast distances instantaneously. It can carry data from anywhere in the world and make it available for everyone to see, total transparency and information for all.

Engineers from all over the world could be collaborating right now on how to construct the most efficient form of transportation. We could have vertical automated farms in every city, use 3D printing to produce houses, transform our energy production from resource intensive power plants to renewable sources, and monitor the level of planetary resources, as examples. All thanks to our ability to communicate, collect and store information on a global scale.

The ability to change is at our fingertips, it is so tantalisingly close. If only we could change our attitudes toward each other, alter our way of seeing and thinking about our world. You see this is the crux of the problem, the dilemma; while we have the technical ability to change we are yet to develop the collective desire. Social conditioning has made it very difficult to consider that we could actually be better off if we drastically altered our form of economics.

How could we be better off, when we have all this great stuff?

1280px-A_load_of_old_junk_or_hidden_treasures _Encants_market_in_Barcelona
Encants market in Barcelona
CC BY 2.0

We still think so inwardly, sure the plight of the three billion poverty stricken on our planet is a very serious issue and we all want that to change, but I also want my plastic what-cha-ma call it with the three month guarantee and free subscription to We are afraid, we have worked so damn hard to get to where we are and we are not about to let go without a fight.

It is fear that keeps this system going, our fear of failure, that if we try something new things might get really bad for us. Here is the kicker, things are already really bad. All we need to do is spend some time looking around and recognising how things have been continually degrading all our lives. Sure we have lots of neat toys, but what has the cost been, socially and environmentally?

Besides, if we looked after each other and our planet, the things we would have less of might be the things we are happy to do without. War, famine, ill health, work, less of these may be desirable and while we may have less brands of toys is it possible that we could have better performing toys?

Do we really think we could not do better than this?

If we look at the path we are on objectively we can see where it is leading, we are not stupid, a future with less animal life, less environmental stability, less opportunity. To continue down this corporate controlled consumer path, remaining blissfully ignorant of the reality we are faced with, stealing from the future to appease our false wants, will only lead us to a slow grinding self destruction.

We are human beings, full of potential, we can do anything we put our minds to. We can have a new social contract, a new economy. It all starts with us changing our thinking in relation to each other and the world we live on together.

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