“While modern capitalism constantly develops new needs in order to increase consumption, people’s dissatisfaction remains the same as ever. Their lives no longer have any meaning beyond a rush to consume, and this consumption is used to justify the increasingly radical frustration of any creative activity or genuine human initiative — to the point that people no longer even see this lack of meaning as important.” - Pierre Canjuers, Socialisme ou Barbarie #27

Saturday, 27 February 2016

A House of Cards

Giving up your job is a liberating feeling.  I can recommend it.  Do you love your job?  Is it making you a better person, or the world a better place?  If not, then what the fuck are you doing?

Paying the bills, is the answer to that.  And usually that's where it stops.  Why not carry on asking questions instead?  Why not ask the same questions again?  Are the things you're paying for making you a better person, or the world a better place?  If not, then what the fuck are you doing?

The answer to that is convenience.  Convenience is a defining characteristic of our world.  Running a fridge or a car is convenient.  You don't need a fridge, in the strict sense of "need".  You don't need a car either.  Buses exist.  So do trains and bikes, and horses.  But trains and bikes and horses aren't as nice as cars.  And pickled eggs aren't as nice as fresh eggs.  It's better to have nice things.  More convenient.

Nice and convenient things aren't free though.  Someone has to make them, and you have to pay them to do that for you.  Otherwise they won't make them.  When things break, someone has to repair them.  This takes time and effort.  You either make that effort yourself, which costs you in time you'd rather be spending with the nice things you have that still work properly - or you pay for someone else to do it for you, which costs you money, which you'd rather spend on more nice things.  This is true of the things you really do need as well. Someone has to plow the fields, to plant the crops, to feed the cows that make the cheeseburgers.  (Never mind how the cows make the cheeseburgers though: questions are all well and good, but some questions are hard).  Then someone has to design the adverts that tell you where to get the cheeseburgers, how much they will cost, and how they will make your life better and you a more attractive, fulfilled and empowered individual.

No that's not right.  You don't need cheeseburgers.  Cheeseburgers are nice, but they're bad for you as well.  Cheeseburgers have consequences.  Have a salad instead.  Salads also have consequences, but nicer consequences.  They might not feel as nice, but they are.  What kind of salad would you like?  We have caeser salad, ham salad, three bean salad, four bean salad, Snickers salad...

No this isn't right either.  Let me think for a minute...

These are simple thoughts.  Hence the comedy.  They’re too simple to doubt or to question.  Even so,
we all question them sometimes.  We don’t really like to talk about it.  (Hence the ambient soundtrack.  Such is the genius of Chris Morris).  Best to hold your breath in the house of cards.  A house of cards is better than no house at all.

That’s the problem, maybe.  Convenience is so convenient, and nice things are so nice, that no alternative will ever seem more attractive.  Maybe there is no alternative.  What’s cooler than being cool?