Isn't It Amazing?
By Mark Mason at Jun 26, 2011
Isn't it astonishing that we live with two major institutions of which we have little to no power? I will say only one thing about government. Ostensibly, we living in so-called democracies control government, but we know this to be a lie. Government is mostly controlled by a tiny group of the super-rich. Occasionally, their grip on government power is loosened by the people, but mostly, the people obey.Think about it.
That's in the civid domain. At work, most of us will work for a corporation. When we enter the workplace, we are powerless, without any pretense of democracy. A corporation is a tyranny. We have only the negative power to freely leave one corporation, only to go work for yet another. Think about it. The modern cultural norm is to have no power in the workplace. Our livelihoods are controlled by unseen others at the top of the pyramid of power. Isn't that amazing? We are humans living in, but not of, the workplace. Our work is not ours. It belongs to someone else. Hunter-gathers do not have jobs to which they report. They don't know what a job is because they're no such thing as a job. A job is a cultural cage contrived by those who own almost everything, and who themselves, do not have a job. Owners don't have jobs. Isn't that amazing? We tolerate cultural and economic conditions wherein a core part of our existence is owned and controlled by someone we will most likely never meet, nor influence. It's a cultural norm that we drive into the skulls of children. They expect to not have any power in the workplace, nor own and control a part of their lives. Corporations are extra-cultural, outside of the public view and outside of the public ownership and outside of public control.
What, then, is the public? The public is no longer the core of human life when an institution that controls an essential component of existence is sliced off, out of the public domain. The public domain becomes marginal, whereas the private domain of the privileged few becomes central to power and control. Isn't that astounding? As most people, I grew up assuming that the way people told me to behave was "normal" and good. Everyone around me was acting as if our cultural institutions were normal, norms, okay, good, necessary, and emblematic of freedom. It take a lifetime to free oneself from deep indoctrination. People can be seen walking to and from the corporate workplace, and acting as if everything is normal.
This is akin to watching men go to the polling place during elections while women stay home---prior to the successful fight to honor women rather than categorizing them as second-class citizens some object less than men. This was normal a hundred years ago. Men voted. Women did not. Men went to the polling places acting as if everything was normal, and good, and just, and necessary. We know this today as an outrage. It may have been normal, but it wasn't just. It was the tyranny of men, over women.
A hundred years from today, people will be going to the workplace wherein the workplace will be only one of many other domains of human life where they own and control their work, and participate in controlling the workplace. Isn't it amazing how culture functions to maintain the function, rights and wrongs, domination and subservience notwithstanding. it takes a thinking reed, much effort, to claim their humanity. We know, unconsciously, that it's dangerous to know the truth of the matter, thus in a functional sense, we work hard to not know. If we do know, then we also know that it "wouldn't do to say" because saying so is dangerous---if we know, better to remain silent, and better yet, better not to know. When the boss says, "Jump!" the wise ask, "How high?" Knowing gets us into trouble on the outside, and on the inside, too. We learn the boundaries of institutional danger zones, and we learn the internal boundaries of comfortable thought.
We are encouraged to "think outside the box" to please the boss, but we're unable to think outside the cultural cage because we cannot even see it. We are trained from birth to be blind to the very power structures of our own cultural institutions. Indeed, the central function of state-sponsored education (school) is to blind us to the abuse of private and state power, the two being almost indistinguishable today. In school, we learn what to know, and equally important, we learn what not to know. We practice not knowing.
Isn't life the work of becoming free from the known, and to allow ourselves to know what we have practiced not knowing?