So you say there are no good jobs out there. You’ve determined your genius: The place where your gift (what you’re really good at) intersects your passion (what you love doing) — areas 2 & 3 in the above diagram — but no one will pay you to do it, and you can’t afford to do it for free. So you’re doing stuff in area 5 instead — a job you’re good at, that someone will pay for, but which leaves you cold, angry, unfulfilled, hating to get up in the morning, a part of the problem instead of a part of the solution. There is a need for your gift, and what you are offering is generous, and of use, so why is this supposedly ‘free market’ economy not recognizing its value by paying you to do it?
It all starts with the education system. That system is designed to make us dependent on the economic system that finances and controls it. We are brainwashed to fear failure, the ultimate punishment the system doles out: As artist Andrew Campbell puts it so eloquently: “In order not to fail most people are willing to believe anything and not to care whether what they are told is true or false.” In order not to fail we ‘learn’ to toe the line, to believe and to do what we are told, and not to question the four great myths of modern civilization culture:
These are all, of course, lies, designed to keep us all from realizing the truth: That life was simpler, richer, happier and more resilient in ‘prehistoric’ gatherer-hunter times and has, with some major ups and downs, been getting worse for most ever since; that unconstrained growth is unsustainable and threatens all life on Earth, and as a consequence the sixth great extinction of life on our planet is already well underway; that collaboration, not competition, is the rule that has always governed healthy and diverse life on our planet, and that hierarchy and inequality are, in nature, abhorrent aberrations; and that the economy is grossly and deliberately distorted to perpetuate a continuous and massive redistribution of wealth and power from the poor and disenfranchised to the already obscenely rich and powerful.
The education system teaches you relentlessly to accept the four civilization myths, not to believe in yourself, to be ashamed of being ‘wrong’, to conform to be like everybody else, to fear failure and hence shun risk, and therefore to be obedient and do what those in ‘authority’ tell you to do. It deliberately does not teach you any of the critical skills shown in the mindmap above, because these skills would make you dangerous, independent, self-sufficient, and out of control — and that cannot be permitted.
Here’s some terrifying data that shows what this utter dependence and lack of critical skills have produced in our modern economy, thanks to Paul Craig Roberts, former US Assistant Secretary to the Treasury (it’s US data but the picture in the rest of the affluent nations is not much better):
So now most of us are caught: On the one hand, we have no ‘marketable’ skills; on the other hand, the economy no longer needs us — we are too expensive, too demanding. We have become, like the angry, dispossessed destitute masses in the struggling nations already bankrupted by local corruption and complicit global corporatist theft, Disposable Citizens.
We have become, to use Jerry Michalski’s grim image, gullets whose only purpose is to consume products and crap cash, and when we run out of cash we are expected to keep borrowing and get deeper into debt so we can consume even more, or else get out of the way as billions of obedient new gullets are waiting, willing to take our place.
If we want meaningful work we are going to have to collaborate with the rest of the world’s Disposable Citizens to create it. We are going to have to build a wholly new economy, one that will undermine and then replace (and be fiercely opposed by the beneficiaries of) the existing dysfunctional ‘market’ economy. Are we — are you — ready to do this? Perhaps not yet — there are several downsides to keep us frightened to do so:
The perpetrators of the existing ‘market’ economy are counting on us not having the courage to do this, and the odds are in their favour. Fear of failure is deeply ingrained in us, and its effect is paralyzing.
We keep hoping that something will happen within the existing economy, to allow us to find meaningful work and become ‘undisposable’ within the system. We move back and forth between the edges of the existing society and economy (the outer circle of the diagram above) and the richer, more comfortable inner circles, gratefully taking and constantly scrounging for the scraps tossed out by the elite. We are addicted to consumption and debt, and will do almost anything, demean ourselves nearly without limit, to feed our addictions.
When I talk on this blog about making a living writing, or in innovation consulting or environmental work, I am inundated with e-mails asking me: How do I get a job doing this? They don’t want to hear my answer — that the existing economy doesn’t value this work, and that they need to do the nearly impossible work necessary to create a role for such meaningful work in an entirely new economy.
So I ask again: Are you ready to do this? If so, here is what we need to do, each of us, pioneers of what could be the most rapid and astonishing change in human culture since civilization began:
This is not easy to imagine, and will be exceedingly difficult to do, but it is entirely natural, modeled on the ‘economy’ that prevails in nature and which prevailed in ‘prehistoric’ gatherer-hunter cultures.
It is the only sustainable economic model, the only economy that can allow each of us to do exactly what we love, what we’re uniquely good at, in service for others — what we were meant to do. If we do it together, it need not be quite so scary. We can create thejobs we want, and, in the process, set ourselves and our world free.
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Andrew Nikiforuk (CA)
Carolyn Baker (US)*
Catherine Ingram (US)
Chris Hedges (US)
Dahr Jamail (US)
Dark Matter Women Witnessing (CA)
David Petraitis (US)
David Wallace-Wells (US)
Dean Spillane-Walker (US)*
Deena Metzger (US)
Derrick Jensen (US)
Doing It Ourselves (AU)
Dougald & Paul (UK)*
Gail Tverberg (US)
Guy McPherson (US)
Jan Wyllie (UK)
Janaia & Robin (US)*
Jem Bendell (US)
Jonathan Franzen (US)
Kari McGregor (AU)
Keith Farnish (UK)
Kristinha Anding (US)
NTHE Love (UK)
Paul Chefurka (CA)
Paul Heft (US)*
Post Carbon Inst. (US)
Richard Heinberg (US)
Robert Jensen (US)
Roy Scranton (US)
Sam Mitchell (US)
Sam Rose (US)*
Tim Bennett (US)
Tim Garrett (US)
Umair Haque (US)
William Rees (CA)
Archive by Category
My Bio, Contact Info, Signature PostsAbout the Author (2016)
--- My Best 100 Posts --
Preparing for Civilization's End:
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Why Economic Collapse Will Precede Climate Collapse
Being Adaptable: A Reminder List
A Culture of Fear
What Will It Take?
A Future Without Us
Dean Walker Interview (video)
The Mushroom at the End of the World
What Would It Take To Live Sustainably?
The New Political Map (Poster)
Complexity and Collapse
Save the World Reading List
What a Desolated Earth Looks Like
Giving Up on Environmentalism
The Dark & Gathering Sameness of the World
The End of Philosophy
The Boiling Frog
What to Believe Now?
Conversation & Silence
The Language of Our Eyes
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
Why I Don't Want to Hear Your Story
A Harvest of Myths
The Qualities of a Great Story
The Trouble With Stories
A Model of Identity & Community
Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
Does Language Restrict What We Can Think?
The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
Figments of Reality
Too Far Ahead
The Rogue Animal
How the World Really Works:
If You Wanted to Sabotage the Elections
Collective Intelligence & Complexity
Ten Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier
The Problem With Systems
Against Hope (Video)
The Admission of Necessary Ignorance
Several Short Sentences About Jellyfish
A Synopsis of 'Finding the Sweet Spot'
Learning from Indigenous Cultures
The Gift Economy
The Job of the Media
The Wal-Mart Dilemma
The Illusion of the Separate Self:
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
Letting Go of the Story of Me
All There Is, Is This
A Theory of No Mind
The Ever-Stranger (Poem)
The Fortune Teller (Short Story)
Non-Duality Dude (Play)
Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
All the Things I Thought I Knew (Short Story)
On the Shoulders of Giants (Short Story)
Calling the Cage Freedom (Short Story)
Only This (Poem)
The Other Extinction (Short Story)
Disruption (Short Story)
A Thought-Less Experiment (Poem)
Speaking Grosbeak (Short Story)
The Only Way There (Short Story)
The Wild Man (Short Story)
Flywheel (Short Story)
The Opposite of Presence (Satire)
How to Make Love Last (Poem)
The Horses' Bodies (Poem)
Distracted (Short Story)
Worse, Still (Poem)
A Conversation (Short Story)
Farewell to Albion (Poem)
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