I - RULES OF NECESSITY
3. SHOULDERS TO THE WHEELS
When we do take the gambit on leisure, we will be in for a happy surprise from the new imperative. An immediate consequence of the Rule of Autonomy will be to take away the fake glamor of work in the job framework and to spur a drive towards a better work distribution. If the name of the game is to work less in the job framework - and more outside or alongside it - than let it be as little as possible. Let's share the load and have all shoulders to the wheel.
As we obey the creative imperative and take a gambit on leisure, we will
abide also by another of the rules of necessity: participation. We
will welcome back to the labour force, not only the unemployed , not only
the male "providers", but the "outsiders", the Do-not's
and all the sightseers of production. Paradoxically, our decision for leisure
will turn into something else we need: a decision in favour of work for
Return of the outsiders
In these last days of the Industrial Era, when the first goal of work gradually becomes the distribution of a "well earned" income for consumption rather than production itself, jobs are "work packages" which it is simpler and more profitable to grant to the "fittest", leaving with the "providers" the responsibility to care for the non-participants. Like the business about "hanging one admiral to give heart to the others", even modest participants are made to feel "privileged" and thus to feel as junior partners in what, with their acquiescence, remain still an effective majority of workers.
With a gambit on leisure, we open the door to universal entrepreneurship and the effective majority opens up also, since all will be welcome to use their talents and energy to upgrade their third-class tickets and join the labour force effective majority, without any need for the blessing of any employer. Even more important, nobody will have an interest in trimming down this type of labour force, so there will be no hidden obstacles to increased participation. We will come back to common sense.
Leisure is the basic impulse. Common sense will have us switch joyfully from the "same-work-for-less" course that is convenient in job production to a "less-work-for-all" approach, better adapted to the production of services. Better adapted because, in the field of services, where quality is of the essence, Parkinson's principle may become highly positive and formal work may be spread very thin. Wouldn't you like to have a doctor who would let the motherly care he gives you "expand to fill his available time..."?
The more autonomous workers to share the load, the better: everybody loves leisure. This is when "losers" are strongly invited to join back the labour force once again and to put their shoulder to the wheel. The minute work is not considered a privilege anymore, it is hastily agreed that some work is a social obligation for everybody and that each individual, within the scope of his abilities, should comply with his obligation to work and participate in the production process.
Nobody wants oldsters moving furniture or kids back down the mine shafts, but work, in the Age of Creativity, is something else. Work may be bad for your health and, in large dose, even kill you somewhat faster, but it provides a feeling of purpose and belonging. It is particularly useful at the beginning and at the end of a career, when one is still in doubt about his or her maturity, or anxious about old age.
So, welcome to 60-year old Auntie Anna and her periodical lumbagos. Let us not fool ourselves about the "privilege" of retirement; the only reason any senior citizen has been retired was that we had no room to accept the outsiders as Do's in the labour force. Senior citizens should move out gradually out of the labour force and retire when they feel like it. Welcome, also, to 16-year old mischievous little boy Jimmy. Let us not fool ourselves either with tales about the innocence of youth. True, teenagers in the labour force would mature earlier - like an only child matures earlier, because he spends more time in the company of adults - but little harm done!
True, Thank God! This way, we might, just might, maintain with the growing generation a link which is now obviously breaking down. If things do not change, the Baby Boom generation, holding to jobs for dear life with the advantage of both position and number, will finally pass the torch, two or three decades hence, to a generation which will have had little experience of responsibility, and a significant proportion whereof shall never even have had a professional life at all !
Having teenagers in the labour force, by the way, should not mean less education but simply a better spread of the educational process over the entire active life. We would have continuous education, the way almost everybody agree it should be. Youth should be integrated into the labour force progressively; first one day a-week, then two, and so on, until the new entrants participate in the labour force the same as all other workers, i.e. with a lot of leisure this time in between tasks.
Then women, of course, and full acceptance of women in the labour force
should come together with the recognition of all the extra and uncompensated
work they already do out of the job framework, like housekeeping and pre-school
education. We will welcome back, also, all other victims of the "ways
of injustice", we will welcome all our outsiders to share the load,
the outsiders and the "Epsilons" too...
Last days of the Epsilons
We referred earlier to Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", the society that bred castes of people, from Alphas to Epsilons. Alphas are thinkers, Epsilons do the menial tasks and are conditioned to like it. Who amongst us would not be horrified at the idea of breeding Epsilons? And yet... let us put ash upon our head and repent, because we have been doing something even more painful to the victims than breeding Epsilons: we have been using Alphas as Epsilons until they feel and act like Epsilons. Who are the Epsilons amongst us? Epsilons are all those, in our society, who cannot work as creators, entrepreneurs or communicators. They are those who slave for the machines and who are not allowed in their professional life to think like human beings.
Look at the young workers now, as they move out of school, college or university, after years of potentially active life during which they have had little exposure to work. They feel and have been made to believe that their education is a passport to productive employment. They have not been bred as such but, within the limits of their individual intellectual abilities, they all have been prepared and conditioned to be Alphas. They have learnt to associate concepts, they have been taught to be thinkers.
The labour market they find is not made for thinkers, though. In the complex production system of the Late Machine Age, there is still very little leeway for imagination at the execution level. Work is for result, one way is known to bring the best results, and the rule is not to find solutions but to learn solutions and apply them. Jobs are dull, and must be dull and unimaginative: they are made for machines.
The youth entering the labour force has been educated like a human being, but he cannot use his creativity at all. He is caught in an aimless, permanent, eyeball-to-eyeball relationship with Big Brother, for he has no means to personalize his job except by putting pictures of his wife and kids on the wall. The production system is like a circle, where all creativity is concentrated on the circumference, for expansion, by the few who think, while the inside is a network of repetitive activities that could now be left to Helots. For the human being who is trapped inside the circle, with no access to the circumference, that part of life we call "work" has become meaningless.
Not only is the young worker unprepared for the dullness of his job, but he soon realizes that he has received little real training and does not have a clue about how "jobs" are performed. He must be "re-educated" before he becomes even an effective Epsilon. Workers, they say, are "alienated".... Is it not a worse social behavior still than that of Huxley's Brave New World, not to proscribe Alpha status from birth, but rather to encourage it through education... and then to take it away at the hiring gate or allow it to be lost through misuse? How do we bring our Epsilons back to the fold and create the human brotherhood we want?
Planners and far-seeing economists are well aware of the problem and often react with the sanctimonious and quite asinine advice to modify our evil ways to work and produce. We hear about the bliss of the worker who identified with his job in the "good ol' days", we are told that work has become meaningless because it has been broken into bits and that we could solve the problem by turning away from machines and assembly lines. This is nonsense. The way we produce is the way we get the most production for the least effort, and this is how it should be. The modern worker, even in insufferable boredom, has no intention to go back to the ancestral picks and shovels.
When this is fully realized and the "back-to-toil" door is mercifully closed, dissatisfaction with the system begins to manifest itself through insidious attacks on an educational system that deals in abstractions rather than know-how and "makes for restless labour..." This reaction is not only asinine but dangerous, because it might alienate workers from education as well, right at the time when we need more education than ever. Of course there is little training in our educational system and education, per se , does not lead to employment! Why should we educate people to replace the machines? Education is to lead workers to the circumference, to creativity. Education is to prepare Alphas/thinkers, and this also is the way it should be.
What then should be the solution to the alienation of workers? It is certainly not to "yearn for the yokes of yore" and to sin against productivity trying to "humanize" jobs for machines; nor will it be found watering down school curricula or limiting access to education. The right solution is to keep the jobs in bits, like they should be, rendering into the Machine what belongs to the machines, but to keep educated human beings as far away as possible from these jobs for machines and to create a framework in which men will work only at the type of work that only men can do.
This is precisely the sensible choice that the leisure gambit offers, and it is the choice that we are going to make, because nobody has an interest in closing down the schools and increasing unemployment, nor in reducing the productivity of assembly lines and having us all buy Japanese. We will take the leisure gambit, because a computerized and robotized society allows for little use of Epsilons to satisfy the nasty human habit of having someone to push around. It may not eradicate the Epsilon drive altogether, but it makes the vice increasingly costly to satisfy....
We will take the leisure gambit, and move from employment in the job framework to self-employment and entrepreneurship for the same reasons that had the Romans renounce slavery and adopt serfdom. Not only will it solve the pressing problems of "unemployment" and of the "alienation of workers", but it will also vastly increase our efficiency as a society. Since there is no limit to the desire not to work, taking the leisure gambit will necessarily create an infinite demand for participation: we will welcome all the outsiders to come and push at the wheel.
They will have to push for real though... We will desist from giving
men jobs made for machines, but we will renounce, by the same occasion,
"work as a privilege", "null-p", and all the tricks
for toil. We will try to get everybody out of Epsilonhood as soon as possible
because, in a creative society, we will need only work that will suit the
talents of Homo Sapiens and workers able to offer i factors. We will
need only Alphas.
The Alpha Brotherhood
Which raises the most important question of all. When we take the gambit on leisure, we will certainly want to share the workload as much as we can, and try to make room for all the help we can get. Can we make this decision effective though? Suppose we design and put into place this new framework for work based on entrepreneurship; is it realistic, in tomorrow's high-tech labour market and within this type of framework, to expect all those we want to welcome back, to come back and offer a worthy contribution to our collective efforts?
Is it a dream or a distinct possibility that everyone might put his shoulder to the wheel? Can we safely trust that this move will mean equality and freedom for all and the general participation of everybody in the productive process... Or should we worry lest we perpetuate a society in which fewer and fewer Do's may have to support a growing number of pseudo entrepreneurial and self-styled "professional" Do-not's? Can we integrate Epsilons productively in society, or will "only Alphas" take on the ominous meaning of the continuous elimination from the labour force of everybody except the "fittest", as planners or hazard will define fitness?
We will integrate our Epsilons if - and only if - we can turn them back into Alphas, that is, transform our repetitive doers in original thinkers and doers of unprogrammable tasks. Let's see what these tasks will be and whether there will be work for all of us to share, now that the Age of Toil is over.
Let's realize, to begin with, that access to productive activities in the future, starting right now, will not depend fundamentally on knowledge, since the most knowledgeable man on Earth can know but a small fraction of what can be put into the memory of a computer. Nor on "intelligence" as popularly described, since logical thinking is the strong point of Helots and computers, but on "something else". What is this "something else" and who has it? Think about the three i factors: it will not be one, but many things. We will inevitably have to replace the present unidimensional "brains + grades" avenue to social usefulness and consequent social recognition by a multidimensional approach to work assignation.
As a first avenue, let's look at the market for brains. What will be the future's substitutes for to-day's whiz-kids? We do not know, but we have a few clues. For example, the human mind can think logically, but it may also, through links which are not at all evident and in a way that we are far from understanding precisely - (since our knowledge of the brain might compare to our knowledge of physics five hundred years ago) - jump from one idea to an indefinite number of seemingly unrelated thoughts: the human mind appears to be "omnidirectional".
Call it creativity, imagination or what-not, this capacity to discover new paths amongst seemingly unrelated concepts is, up until now, unprogrammable: no Helot from Cybernia can do this trick. To possess this human talent to work in omnidirectional mode is to be in a class apart and above from Helots, and thus to qualify as an Alpha. How rare is it?
For some time now, scientists have studied an interesting phenomenon. The brain emits continuously a variety of waves, the nature of which we do not know much about, but that show on the electro-encephalograph and have been designated also - (quite unimaginative these scientists!) - by letters of the Greek alphabet. It has been found, for instance that when the human mind is thinking logically, even at such a basic level as trying to solve simple arithmetical problems, the brain will emit "beta waves". If a man does not think "logically", though, but lets his mind wander in free-association mode, in the omnidirectional manner which a computer cannot emulate, the EEG shows a different set of waves called - (yes, you guessed it..!): "alpha waves". Subjects in experimentation, when they emit alpha waves, usually equate their feelings with bliss ....
It does not mean, mind you, that anything very constructive happens when people produce alpha waves, but simply that everybody, at times, thinks "omni-directionally", that is not logically ... and we knew that already, didn't we ? The real reason it is good news is that the human brain emits alpha waves precisely when the mind is active doing the kind of thinking that computers cannot do. Alpha waves may not relate to creativity, but they certainly relate to a human-only function of the brain which does not seem to follow the logical "questions, answers and criteria" pattern.
If alpha waves really signify the capacity to think in an "omnidirectional" mode, it is good news, indeed, because everybody emits alpha waves. The production of alpha waves is not related to knowledge, to intelligence or anything we can test to say some people are more equal than others. If the same is true for the distribution amongst the population of whatever productive, "a-logical" thinking capacity might exist in the mind, the tendency in the new framework will certainly be to take advantage of that to equalize workloads. The demand that might grow for whoever has this capacity - whether or not it corresponds to what we think of as "creativity" - could give to a large segment of the population that cannot compete with whiz-kids a chance to bring also its "alpha level" contribution to society.
It is great to know that all people, when they withdraw from logical thought, share a common state of mind in which they are not moronic but feel good, because we will have much more use, from now on, for i factors, and thus for non-linear, "a-logical" thinking. "i" stands for imagination, and all creators are Alphas.
Creativity is not the only claim on Alphahood, though. Beside creativity , there is a need for the other "human-only" functions, the other aptitudes denied to Helots and sophisticated computers. There are other fields in which we must manifest human uniqueness and accept the human-machine complementarity; "feelings", for instance, are not for Helots. Man must be a creator, deal in concepts and ideas, deploy his energy towards the innovative, but he must also relate to the most important unknown quantity of all: Man himself. Feelings are unprogrammable.
Machines may help, but nothing will ever replace a human being where understanding, love and sympathy are required. The only sector of activity in which we are sure that there will be a growing demand for work in the coming years is the sector of human relations. Not so much "human relations" as a science, to allow the strong to maneuver the weak, as human relations in terms of empathy and understanding, particularly in those fields where they are most important and most conspicuously absent, like Health and Education. What experience has been gained with "communication" over the past decades and used to fuel hyperjobs in null-p. should now be put to constructive use: "i" is for interaction , and all communicators are Alphas.
Then, the third i factor. We have outgrown the challenge of production, and Homo Faber, in our society, will take his leave; but the will to achieve, to build and to overcome has not disappeared. Although his drive and enterprise will aim at different goals, bet safely that Man will remain the Daring Animal and will still crave to join a flying trapeze act. The desire for security being also strong in most, bet that he will even do it more often if a new framework provides him with a net below. Homo Sapiens will be an entrepreneur, the same as Homo Faber : "i" is for Initiative, and all entrepreneurs are Alphas.
The demand for creativity, entrepreneurship and human relations will provide work for all and the occasion, for everyone, to participate in the new framework. It will create also an obligation to participate: this is the Rule of Participation. It will be important that all accept to work, because the creative imperative is bringing not only more freedom but also more interdependence, and it will be making us all more irreplaceable to each other than ever before.
Helots do not only make Alphas of us all; they forcibly have us merge into an Alpha Brotherhood of thinkers: entrepreneurs, creators and communicators. We must not only participate, but must be closely bound to each other in this new Brotherhood of Alphas and look together for the ways to cope efficiently with the challenge from the dark side of freedom: anarchy.
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