“My father taught me to work, but not to love it. I never did like to work, and I don’t deny it. I’d rather read, tell stories, crack jokes, talk, laugh — anything but work.” Abraham Lincoln
So what exactly IS a wage slave, anyway? It’s doubtful that you’d be exploring this web site if you didn’t have some idea at least, but for the sake of ease, we’ll clarify further.
Here are some brief and incomplete definitions from CLAWS members:
“Wage slavery is the state where you are unable to perceive choices and create courses of action different from the grind of the job.”
“Wage slave: A wage earner whose livelihood is completely dependent on the wages earned.”
The point here, of course, is that we don’t have a single agreed-upon definition of wage slavery. Many of us prefer to focus on wage slavery as a state of mind, while others prefer to focus on the external aspects of wage slavery such as the wage economy. But overall, we seem to sense something rotten at the core of what we’ve been taught about “making a living”, and that’s the place to begin our questioning.
Have you ever noticed how many of us seem to live “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau puts it? We feel trapped by forces beyond our control, trapped in a mindless job, for the sake of money, status or recognition. We complain that we never seem to have the time for what’s really important to us, because our jobs take so much energy and focus that we hardly have anything left over. We plod along day to day; sometimes we even dread getting out of bed in the morning.
We see the futility of the standard, socially approved path in America. It goes something like this: Go to school, get good grades, so you can get a “good” job, make lots of money, get a mortgage and a car and a spouse, keep up with the Joneses, and be “successful”. We know it’s not the path for us; we want to define success for ourselves. But we don’t know how to forge a new path for ourselves, because, well, what would we do for money if we quit? How would we support ourselves? Sometimes there’s a glazed look in our eyes; it’s as if some part of us has died. We are just doing time, working hard and hoping for the next promotion, waiting for the day when we can throw off our shackles, quit our dull jobs, and finally live life. Everything gets put on hold until we have more time, or more money. Meanwhile, life is passing us by.
We are interested in transforming ourselves, our thinking, and society so that we may see all productive activities (“work”) done for reasons of real pride, joy, concern for social welfare, and intrinsic satisfaction – not coercion, whether induced by money, social status, or conformity. We believe that the path toward this sort of society is likely to start with each of us examining our beliefs about work and jobs, and understanding the meaning of leisure. There is a difference between “jobs” and work, as we see it, though many people use these terms interchangeably.
There was once a notion of shorter hours and a living wage/universal income. Since conservatives endorse slavery and ownership programs, this idea has changed since the Reagan era. both John Conyers and Bernie Sanders have bills for 100% employment and infrastructure jobs. Creating meaningful jobs. I support creating Meaningful Jobs.
We need to prepare the future workforce with a general education and skills emphasis that will empower the worker and fulfill the needs of the future high tech economy. This economic force is full of convincing data, and the discussion makes for a dynamic statement about the current crisis in employment outcomes. Any parent with a high school or college age student should support this if they care for the childs future; the student himself or herself should also read into it. So should every worker looking for success and advancement, as well as every boss who has to hire the appropriately educated worker and cannot find him or her. What makes this particularly effective are the opportunities that make together with global economies and the recommendation for how this crisis can be solved. One comes away with a real sense of the scope of the problem and the possible solutions, especially the need for businesses and the Government to invest in employee training and the establishment of community-based Sustainable Bushinesses and meaningful jobs. But people should have a choice to have a job or not with out government dictates.