An original version of this post was published September 12, 2017.
Everyone with a job is a slave, especially those who work jobs they hate.
Wikipedia describes wage slavery pretty well:
“Wage slavery is a pejorative term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor by focusing on similarities between owning and renting a person. It is usually used to refer to a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.”
“The term wage slavery has been used to criticize exploitation of labour and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops), and the latter as a lack of workers’ self-management, fulfilling job choices, and leisure in an economy. The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical society to perform otherwise unfulfilling work that deprives humans of their “species character” not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma and status diminution.”
I think the analogy between wage (or salary) labor and slavery is apt. All you have to do is ask someone “When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?” Look to see if what they’re doing as an adult matches their answer, then follow-up that question with, “Why aren’t you doing that now?”
You’ll get a host of reasons why they’re doing what they’re doing instead of what they wanted to do as a kid. Often they’ll explain not following their dreams with an “indoctrination trope”, which is something I’ll explain in a later post.
Some will scoff at the idea that capitalism fosters wage slavery. I’ll get to that in a minute too. First, it cannot be stressed enough that Copiosis makes people free.
By freedom we mean something specific:
“Making people free.” Those three words are scary for wage slaves, including – oddly enough – those who are not, yet still depend heavily on the wage-slave status of others.
When confronted with such a definition, these people will say “Yeah but, if you give everyone the kind of freedom you’re talking about, then the things needing done no one will do.”
What’s remarkable about that is how so many people come back with that answer, while not realizing such statements endorse wage slavery!
Think about your needs in the context of modern society. Clearly our society depends heavily on wage slavery. Notice what happened during COVID. When people don’t work, the whole thing falls apart. People lose jobs. Businesses close. Food supplies dwindle. Such outcomes supporting keeping wage slavery.
Indeed the conveniences you enjoy – regular garbage pick up, food production (especially the shitty parts of that process), “waste” management (I’m referring to sewage here, separate from garbage “waste”) childcare, elderly care – all the things you’d rather not do or don’t want to do because you have other “better things to do with your time” are taken care of by others, usually at meager wages.
You explain away poverty-level wages/salaries for this important work, by saying “well they’re being paid” or “That’s why I pay taxes” as if that is a good excuse for keeping people in those low-paying jobs.
But it’s not. Especially when we can do better.
When people counter Copiosis saying “who will do the jobs no one wants to do?” what they are really saying is “those people doing the work that makes my life comfortable better keep doing it because I don’t want my life to change, and I’m not going to do that work. I don’t care how much better off my life may become. And I don’t care how shitty that job they’re doing is. They have to keep doing it.”
That’s wage slavery.
For while a person may be paid that person is doing work he MUST do. Not work he would PREFER to do. And sometimes that work is shitty, or boring, or repetitive, or hazardous, or debilitating or dehumanizing while also consuming huge proportions of those people’s lives because they pay so low.
Making. People. Free. Those three words are scary to people who have been immersed in wage-slavery all their lives both as benefactors AND beneficiaries. Unfortunately very, very few have freed themselves from this paradigm. So of course the first thing people think of, if people are afforded the freedom to choose is “how will shit get done if we have no slaves (laborers) to do them?” Put more nicely it’s “who will do the work we need done that no one wants to do”?
Thankfully Copiosis answers that question by offering a framework where things get done AND people are free. Without the need of human slaves.
We can end wage slavery, but not with capitalism, socialism or communism. Isn’t it time we end all four?