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Message Sujet: THE CODE OF UR NAMMU, KING OF UR   Ven 26 Jan - 21:33


THE CODE OF UR NAMMU, KING OF UR


Unless you’re a member of law enforcement or an attorney, you probably don’t think too much about the laws that govern you on a daily basis. That’s not to say you’re oblivious — you’re probably just so used to certain laws that you wouldn’t think twice about keeping to or breaking them.

The origins of these laws, however, provide important insight into human civilization. Some of the laws we have in place today can be traced back to ancient times — specifically to someone called Ur Nammu.

WHO WAS UR NAMMU?

Ur Nammu was a Sumerian king who lived around the year 2000 BC. He founded the third dynasty of Ur and initiated what is now known as the “Sumerian Renaissance,” a period of time in which Sumerian society heavily emphasized the arts and culture.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF UR NAMMU

Ur Nammu is praised for his myriad achievements, including but not limited to:

* The building of the Great Ziggurat of Ur: This ancient Sumerian structure, located in present-day Iraq, is thought to have been a temple dedicated to the moon god Nanna.

* Overthrowing the Gutians: Ur Nammu followed in his father-in-law Utu-Hegel’s footsteps to drive the Gutian people out of the Sumerian cities.

* Conquering other cities including Eridu

* Revitalizing Sumerian culture: Ur Nammu spearheaded projects such as planting orchards, revitalizing the arts, and strengthening Sumer’s infrastructure and economy.

Among all of Ur Nammu’s achievements, the Code of Ur Nammu is arguably the most significant.

CODE OF UR NAMMU

The Code of Ur Nammu is the oldest legal code that exists in the world today. It was discovered by Samuel Kramer in 1952 in southeast Iraq — the site of the ancient city of Nippur. It is inscribed on clay cuneiform tablets and details nearly 60 laws.

The Code of Ur Nammu is older than the [url=http://iws.collin.edu/mbailey/hammurabi's laws.htm]Code of Hammurabi[/url], which dates back to roughly 1754 BC, and even the Ten Commandments, which was one of the earliest and most recognized concepts of laws.

The Code of Ur Nammu is distinct from these two law codes for reasons aside from its age. Unlike the Ten Commandments, the [url=http://www.polk.k12.ga.us/userfiles/644/Classes/177912/Code of Ur-Nammu.pdf]laws[/url] listed in the Code of Ur Nammu are not dictated by a god or religious figure but by the government. Compared to the Code of Hammurabi's "eye-for-an-eye" rationale, each law is written in a “cause-and-effect” format, listing each crime and its respective punishment.

HERE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE LAWS FOUND IN THE CODE OF UR NAMMU:

- If a man commits a murder, that man must be killed.

- If a man commits a kidnapping, he is to be imprisoned and pay 15 shekels of silver.

- If a slave marries a slave, and that slave is set free, he does not leave the household.

- If a man violates the right of another and deflowers the virgin wife of a young man, they shall kill that male.

- If a man proceeded by force, and deflowered the virgin female slave of another man, that man must pay five shekels of silver.

- If a man divorces his first-time wife, he shall pay (her) one mina of silver.

IMPACT OF THE CODE OF UR NAMMU

Obviously, the law has come a long way since the age of Ur Nammu’s reign. However, the Code is very noteworthy for a number of reasons and has greatly influenced the laws we have in place today.

First and foremost, this is the oldest code of laws ever discovered, meaning it set the precedent for other laws written thereafter. It is particularly noteworthy because of the format in which the laws are written. Unlike the Babylonian “eye-for-an-eye” laws, the Code of Ur Nammu listed laws in a cause-and-effect format (i.e. “if this, then that”) that specifically outlined the crimes and their respective punishments.

Secondly, the Code of Ur Nammu introduced the concept of fines as a form of punishment — a notion we still rely on today. [url=http://www.polk.k12.ga.us/userfiles/644/Classes/177912/Code of Ur-Nammu.pdf]Fines ranged[/url] from minas and shekels of silver to kurs of barley.

Finally, the Code of Ur Nammu identified murder and rape as capital offenses. Murder is still considered a capital offense under the United States Code; however rape is not unless it results in the death of the victim.

Although it was written thousands of years ago, the Code of Ur Nammu continues to affect our lives. By outlining laws in a cause-and-effect format, Ur Nammu set a precedent that would eventually become the norm.

THE FUTURE OF THE LAWS

As we’ve experienced throughout history, laws are hardly set in stone. We’ve seen some pretty significant changes in the law over the years, from the abolishment of slavery to the legalization of same-sex marriage. Elections and even petition websites such as Change.org have enormous influence on laws, putting the power back in the hands of the people. Only time will tell how our laws will continue to evolve and change.
(source)

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Message Sujet: THE MANY BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF LIFE   Ven 26 Jan - 22:02


THE MANY BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF LIFE


Whether you are a fervent reader of religious texts, fan of mythology, or frequenter of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, in some way or another, you are probably familiar with the concept of the Tree of Life.

Because the Tree of Life has had myriad origin stories, symbols, and meanings over time and across cultures, the many branches of its history offer complex truths about nature.

By taking a closer look at the many ways the Tree of Life manifests itself throughout the world, we might better understand how this piece of nature has risen to such stature throughout our society and continues to be such a well-known symbol revered by many.

ORIGINS OF THE TREE OF LIFE

To find the seed of the Tree of Life, we must dive into the places where it first appears: religious texts. In this case, the Bible offers an initial reference to the Tree of Life.

The earliest account of the Tree of Life is mentioned in Genesis 2:8-9, when describing the Garden of Eden — there it is called the source of eternal life. It reappears in the last book of the Bible, Revelations, as part of a new garden of paradise.

However, the Christian faith is far from the only religion or belief system to make reference to a Tree of Life. In Islam, it is called the Tree of Immortality, and in Judaism, Etz Chaim, which is Hebrew for tree of life. Other references appear in Hinduism, Buddhism, and paganism.

Of course, the tree of life also has roots in metaphysical studies as well, as we will touch on further below.

TREE OF LIFE MEANING

Due to the diverse places in which a Tree of Life is mentioned, the Tree of Life meaning varies depending on what lens you look through.

Here we will take a look at just a few definitions of the Tree of Life according to different religious traditions and beliefs.

BIBLICAL / CHRISTIAN

As mentioned above, in Christianity, the Tree of Life has significance in that it is said to have been the vehicle used by evil in the form of a snake that encouraged Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which was forbidden.

However, the body of Jesus Christ has also been referred to as the Fruit of the Tree of Life in the Catholic faith. The cross on which he died was called the Tree of Life as well, since Jesus’ death is viewed by Christians as a sacrifice that then delivered eternal life to those who believe in him.

KABBALAH

In the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, the Tree of Life has two different symbols: upside down and right side up. These two placements are said to have distinct meanings — the original being upside down, with “roots flowing from the divine place of unity and infinite light,” which is also referred to as the Tree of Emanation.

However, the other Tree of Life symbol goes the other direction — back toward the source. In this depiction, the roots go into the ground and limbs toward the sky, indicating evolution or initiation.

These depictions are also said to depict Sephirot, or emanations of the soul.

METAPHYSICAL

The metaphysical meaning of the Tree of Life is clear — indicating each being is a child of the Universe, with a right to exist and a responsibility to be oneself.

Because Metaphysics ties the natural world with the spiritual, the Tree of Life in this case represents a Cosmic Family tree of stores, demonstrating the links between people and with the past, including where people have merged, split off, and rejoined.

TREE OF LIFE SYMBOLOGY

Being that the Tree of Life is such a pervasive symbol for people from many backgrounds, it is worth investigating more of its symbolism and meaning.

While it is called the Cosmic Tree, the World Tree, and the Holy Tree, among other names, its symbolic meaning of strength, wisdom, protection, beauty, and redemption might hold true across many belief systems.

In the Christian faith, the writers of Proverbs reference the Tree of Life with four truths, including wisdom, righteousness, fulfilled hope, and a wholesome tongue.

In more metaphorical sense, the Tree of Life can represent natural creation, as in Kabbalastic mysticism — with a complete map of the soul and its attributes.

TREE OF LIFE TODAY

Other clues about the Tree of Life may be found in Sacred Geometry, which also credits roots, flowers, and fruits with the Tree of Life label, based on their healing qualities and diversity.

Today, the Tree of Life is still revered as a divine metaphor, as studies of sacred geometry note, “the way a seed becomes a tree and bears fruit, the One creator unfolds into the Many forms of manifest existence.”

While many meanings and explanations of the Tree of Life’s structure have been gathered already, it remains a point of study for those in the metaphysical community.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Obviously, the Tree of Life’s origins, meanings across different belief systems, and symbolism open up many avenues for further explanation of this grandiose symbol.

It may be the case that to truly understand the Tree of Life entirely, one must abandon the notion of following one school of thought, and instead merge the many ideas presented over time to get a comprehensive sense of what the Tree of Life means historically, religiously, mythologically, and spiritually.

You may even find exploring many different individuals’ interpretations, insights, and visual renderings of the Tree of Life can open up different notions about this powerful symbol.
(source)

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Message Sujet: THE MYSTERY & INTRIGUE OF UNDERWATER CITIES   Ven 26 Jan - 22:26


THE MYSTERY & INTRIGUE OF UNDERWATER CITIES


If you had lived in the ancient city of Atlantis, you would have been a member of a sophisticated, utopian civilization, living on a huge island full of gems, gold, silver, and exotic wildlife. Your lush island nation was a powerful empire that conquered African and European nations using its powerful navy and protection from the god Poseidon.

However, as your fellow citizens’ power grew, their ethics declined, and they became greedy. As punishment for becoming morally corrupt, your entire civilization was destroyed by earthquakes and floods, and then it sunk into the depths of the sea.

This is the story of the underwater city Atlantis, described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato around 360 B.C. in his dialogues “Timaeus” and “Critias.”

People have been fascinated with this lost underwater civilization legend for thousands of years, and there have been countless “discoveries” of Atlantis in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Aegean Sea, and other bodies of water.

WAS ATLANTIS REAL OR AT LEAST BASED ON A REAL CIVILIZATION?

It depends on who you ask. Many believe it was a real place and should be remembered as a lesson in how ruthless greed and power cause harm, so the universe (or other entity) responds with punitive action. Those who aren’t prepared or enlightened suffer.

Others believe Plato created the story to illustrate his philosophical ideas of an ideal society and serve as a cautionary tale. While many claim to have located the city under the sea, its existence is still shrouded in mystery. There is no widely accepted, undisputed proof Atlantis ever existed. In addition, there have been no references to Atlantis in any other ancient texts except Plato’s.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER LOST UNDERWATER CIVILIZATIONS?

SUNKEN CITY OF CUBA

Marine engineer Pauline Zalitzky’s and her husband Paul Weinzweig were exploring the ocean floor (in conjunction with the Cuban government) off the western tip of Cuba in 2001 using advanced sonar equipment to search for sunken Spanish ships containing lost treasures.

Imagine Zalitsky’s surprise when instead of a treasure-laden Spanish galleon, she discovered a series of massive stone bricks, other geometric shapes, structures, and pyramids that resembled a city under the sea. Those who study underwater discoveries around the globe were hopping with excitement and scrutinized the images carefully, some even thinking Zalitsky had found Atlantis.

The Sunken City of Cuba was found in about 700 meters (2,300 feet) of water, which was quite a bit deeper than other known underwater cities. Researchers thought it would have taken roughly 50,000 years for the city to sink to this depth. At that time, it is believed no cultures had the ability to build structures this advanced.

WAS CUBA’S SUNKEN CITY ANOTHER LOST UNDERWATER CIVILIZATION?

Maybe. According to Mayan and Yucateco oral stories that were passed down through the ages, their ancestors inhabited an island nation that vanished underwater. Some researchers speculated there was once a land bridge that connected Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula with Cuba, so this could have been that civilization. Others suggest the Caribbean could have been a dry basin at some point, making it easy to construct a city on its bed, even if below sea level.

While the geometric shapes certainly appear to be manmade and not anomalies of nature, many scientists are skeptical due to the underwater city’s extreme depth. Throughout Earth’s history, sea levels have risen and fallen, but most researchers say it never fell this far.

While there was a flurry of activity shortly after the findings, many who carefully reviewed the sonar images say they are inconclusive. Computer enhancements made the structures look more man made. Conspiracy theorists say Zalitsky was warned off, but interest in the site has diminished due to lack of evidence.

ANOTHER DISPUTED UNDERWATER CITY: YONAGUNI MONUMENT

The Yonaguni Monument is a submerged rock formation off of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands. Discovered by a diver looking for a place to observe sharks in 1987, some believe it may be the Lost Continent of Mu, Japan’s “Atlantis.”

Marine geologist Masaaki Kimura at the University of the Ryukyus believes Yonaguni Monument’s many right angles and carvings are definitely manmade. He says he has identified 10 structures, including a stadium, castle, temples, and roads, which date back to about 5,000 years ago. The architecture and carvings are similar to other ancient Asian structures, according to Kimura.

Others dispute the evidence of this lost underwater civilization, saying the sandstone making up the structures tends to break along planes, creating straight edges. They say carvings and other indentations were created by natural underwater eddies.

UNDISPUTED LOST UNDERWATER CITIES

Researchers, geologists, archeologists, historians, spiritual leaders, and many others have disputed the existence of Atlantis, the Sunken City of Cuba, Yonaguni, and other underwater discoveries. Many mainstream scientists doubt their existence, but what about underwater cities that have been proven to exist?

PORT ROYAL – “THE WICKEDEST CITY ON EARTH”

In the late 1600s, Port Royal on Jamaica’s southeast coast was one of the largest and most important European cities in the New World. Port Royal’s deep harbor and protected location made it an ideal hub of activity for merchants, privateers, slave traders, tradesman, sailors, and notorious pirates, including Captain Henry Morgan and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Accounts from sailing captains and citizens described more than 2,000 buildings occupying about 51 acres at the height of its prosperity in the 1690s.

On June 7, 1692, a massive earthquake and subsequent tidal wave hit the island, plunging 20 acres of the city into the ocean immediately, and killing thousands. While some structures remained, the city never regained its former size and significance.

PORT ROYAL: FROM WICKED TO AUTHENTIC SUNKEN CITY

Port Royal’s population of pirates, prostitutes, slaves, sailors, and soldiers naturally led to a lively atmosphere of decadence and debauchery. Was Port Royal destroyed because of its immoral reputation? Regardless of why it was destroyed, today it is recognized by scholars as the only authentic sunken city in the Western Hemisphere.

Numerous buildings, structures, and artifacts have been excavated. Combined with historical documents, they provide an excellent view into the architecture, city planning, diet, cooking activities, and other aspects of daily life in this 17th century colonial city. As of this writing, Port Royal is on UNESCO’s tentative list of cities to gain World Heritage status.

OTHER UNDISPUTED UNDERWATER CITIES

Dwarka is one of the most studied underwater discoveries in India’s Gulf of Cambay. It’s still a thriving city today, but marine archeologists have been studying its ancient underwater ruins for decades. According to ancient Hindu texts, Dwarka was a beautiful, prosperous city founded by the god Krishna. Dwarka was destroyed when the evil King Salva attacked with a flying machine, and it sank into the sea when Krishna left.

Alexandria, Egypt (home of Cleopatra), Teonimanu in the Solomon Islands, and Pavlopetri, Greece, are among many well-studied sunken cities that were thought to be destroyed by earthquakes and subsequent flooding.

DID NATURAL DISASTERS OR DIVINE INTERVENTION CAUSE ANCIENT CITIES TO SINK UNDERWATER?

During ancient times, including when Plato lived, frequent tectonic activity caused massive earthquakes, floods, and other catastrophic events that might explain why so many cities vanished underwater. Many of these sunken cities are shrouded in myths and legends, but were those legends simply based on the geological events?

Those who favor a more transcendental or metaphysical explanation suggest there is some kind of divine intervention at work, and these destroyed civilizations were paying the price for their immoral deeds.

Regardless of why these cities around the globe slipped underwater, they are fascinating windows into the history of civilization.
(source)

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Message Sujet: DID EXTRATERRESTRIALS GENETICALLY ENGINEER HUMANS?   Ven 26 Jan - 22:36


DID EXTRATERRESTRIALS GENETICALLY ENGINEER HUMANS?


Creationism and evolution are two popular theories of how humankind came to be. While they are perhaps the most widespread theories, there is another school of thought: Humans were created by extraterrestrials.

It may sound far-fetched at first, but, arguably, no more so than creationism or evolution. Some researchers, like Zecharia Sitchin, believe extraterrestrials genetically engineered humans to work as slaves. Others, like David Icke, hypothesize extraterrestrials are even more diabolical and have manipulated human consciousness to control the entire world. Let’s take a closer look at the different subsects of this lesser-known theory.

REPTILIANS

Former sports broadcaster-turned-researcher David Icke conducted extensive research on the role extraterrestrials play in human engineering.

Icke adamantly claims an extraterrestrial species, known as the Reptilians, control our world. These menacing creatures allegedly have the power to shapeshift and take human form, and have assumed the forms of political leaders to maintain global control.

Reptilian-like figures are prominent in many ancient texts — the serpent in Genesis’ Garden of Eden; the half-bird, half-snake Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl; and Greek mythology’s Medusa are all great examples. This recurring theme of “god-like” Reptilians could potentially indicate these creatures have been on Earth throughout human existence and perhaps played a role in creating us in the first place.

MIXED BLOODLINES

Another theory explores the idea that extraterrestrials manipulated our DNA to create a mixed bloodline on our planet. The most notable piece of evidence to support this theory is something called the Rh factor.

The presence of the Rh factor in human blood makes the blood type positive, while its absence makes it negative. Most people are Rh positive, and only 15 percent of the population does not have the Rh factor.

The Rh factor can be attributed to other species, specifically primates. The absence of it continues to remain a mystery. However, some believe it stems from extraterrestrials. Most alien abductees are Rh negative. Is this a coincidence? It seems unlikely.

THE MISSING LINK

“Missing link” is a popular term we’ve all heard at one point or another. It’s an informal term used to describe a transitional species, or a species that connects two together, such as apes and humans.

Gregg Braden has explored missing links and human genetic modification in depth. He publicizes the fact that human DNA shows “unmistakable signs of planning” that evolution alone cannot explain. In addition, he points to the fact that, according to the fossil record, modern, highly intelligent humans seemed to appear almost overnight about 200,000 years ago.

How did we progress so quickly from primitive apes to highly advanced beings? Is it possible that another species deliberately manipulated our genetic code?

EXTRATERRESTRIALS & GENETICALLY MODIFIED HUMANS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

Some of the aforementioned theories may sound a bit uncanny, but there is plenty of evidence that suggests extraterrestrials indeed influenced mankind. Ancient artworkwritten texts like the Popol Vuh, and ancient artifacts all depict or reference otherworldly beings. Perhaps their impact is even more powerful. Perhaps we modern humans are a product of extraterrestrial engineering.

As genetic engineering continues to evolve and change over time, one can’t help but wonder if this is new technology or if history is repeating itself. We’ve completed enormous feats throughout the years, from discovering DNA to sequencing the human genome to cloning animals and even genetically modifying human embryos.

Such incredible power and progression inevitably raises ethical concerns over whether or not we are “playing God.” Could we also be "playing alien"? It will be interesting, to say the least, to see where genetic engineering takes us next.
(source)

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Message Sujet: On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant   Jeu 4 Oct - 13:07


On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant


In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.

Why did Keynes' promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the '60s—never materialise? The standard line today is that he didn't figure in the massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and more toys and pleasures, we've collectively chosen the latter. This presents a nice morality tale, but even a moment's reflection shows it can't really be true. Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and industries since the '20s, but very few have anything to do with the production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.

So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry, and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time, ‘professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers’ tripled, growing ‘from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.’ In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away (even if you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world population as they used to be.)

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world's population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning of not even so much of the ‘service’ sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect on all those people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support for these industries, or for that matter the whole host of ancillary industries (dog-washers, all-night pizza delivery) that only exist because everyone else is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.

These are what I propose to call ‘bullshit jobs’.

It's as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism, this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as they had to (this is why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat). But, of course, this is the sort of very problem market competition is supposed to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don't really need to employ. Still, somehow, it happens.

While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making, moving, fixing and maintaining things; through some strange alchemy no one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

The answer clearly isn't economic: it's moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the '60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don't like and are not especially good at. Say they were hired because they were excellent cabinet-makers, and then discover they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Neither does the task really need to be done—at least, there's only a very limited number of fish that need to be fried. Yet somehow, they all become so obsessed with resentment at the thought that some of their co-workers might be spending more time making cabinets, and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying responsibilities, that before long there's endless piles of useless badly cooked fish piling up all over the workshop and it's all that anyone really does. I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics of our own economy.

Now, I realise any such argument is going to run into immediate objections: ‘who are you to say what jobs are really “necessary”? What's necessary anyway? You're an anthropology professor, what's the “need” for that?’ (And indeed a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.

I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not long ago I got back in touch with a school friend who I hadn't seen since I was 12. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I'd heard some of his songs on the radio having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of unsuccessful albums, he'd lost his contract, and plagued with debts and a newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, ‘taking the default choice of so many directionless folk: law school.’ Now he's a corporate lawyer working in a prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation, should not really exist.

There's a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? (Answer: if 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, what we call ‘the market’ reflects what they think is useful or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in these jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever met a corporate lawyer who didn't think their job was bullshit. The same goes for almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely (one or t'other?) Give them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and stupid their job really is.

This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one's job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one's work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it's obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It's not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.

Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism. You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for paralysing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers can paralyse London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems to be precisely what annoys people. It's even clearer in the US, where Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against school teachers, or auto workers (and not, significantly, against the school administrators or auto industry managers who actually cause the problems) for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It's as if they are being told ‘but you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on top of that you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health care?

If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it's hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3–4 hour days. (source)

David Graeber

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