Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day 2014

Remember on this day all those who died in mine shafts, drowned in canals, fell from skyscrapers, suffocated from fibrous lungs, crushed beneath rollers, whipped by masters, scourged by bailiffs, all those denied the just compensation for their physical exertions: community contentment amid nature's adversity alone.

We were once all in this together as a species. Now our species has its borders and border guards. Wages, and public and private debts, reinforce the imposition of economic selective pressures; labor stratification is extinction by other means, adding to nature further ways of selecting for new species. If you listen to the rhetoric of the economic strong, they also confirm this point, where market interaction and success decide together who lives and who dies. 'Market share' is thus a human way of saying what humans say nature already does by evolving: innovating new strategies for reproduction (genetic profit) and evaluating those strategies with harsh and equal application of consumer desire (natural selection as the consumption of material by decomposers, parasites, viruses, predators). So, I'm not saying anything unusual, other than our present economic system is designed to kill the defenseless poor and reproduce those successfully killing, the way they say nature already works.

Labor Day is a day set aside to remember, though, that nature also has those entrepreneurs called chloroplasts, inside a wide variety of life forms. Working slow, carefully, and with much patience, our little brilliant entrepreneurs take light and air and make sweet life, as if from nothing. These entrepreneurs work in dependable, trustworthy, and vulnerable ways, but they are hard working. They get to work when the sun rises and don't stop until the sun sets. They never take a day off. They merely ask for protection, water, and a place to leave their sweat.

Many of the world's human laborers are like that. Without them, the entire global economic struggle of predators and prey, the macroeconomic wars where idea machines forming one group go up against idea machines forming another group, the thermodynamics of Life As We Know It, all of this will come to a silent, decaying stillness, and only the homeless scavengers will remain to rebuild.

Labor Day is not just for our coal-faced children coming home from a long dig in the caves. It's also for all our unsung laborers, all those who strive to do well under The Man.

1 comment:

  1. And keeping with this metaphorics, I will add that extremophiles are not simply the most outlandish of entrepreneurs and economic inventors, but they conduct their business in entirely alien and marginal niches. While driven by the same profit motive driving other branches of life, their marginal lifestyle reaping in fortunes down below operates completely invisibly from the eyes of human investors and consumers and capitalists. Metaphorically speaking, human extremophile economic agensts are people who make money at the extreme margins of society, in the dirtiest of places, doing the grossest of necessary jobs, whose lifestyles were never meant to appear inspiring or desirable to the mainstream.

    Theirs is a labor power no one significant celebrates, no charity telethon pleads, no non-profits hold up as paradigms or success stories. No camera lingers over the human extremophiles but those solely interested in incredulity (believe it or not) or bizarre (news of the weird).

    Labor Day is therefore not for them.


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