If ever there were a clear case of ubiquitous déjà vu, it is The Great Chain of Being Subservient. Not in the sense of being subject to authority for the maintenance of social order balanced with individual liberty, but in the subjugation of one’s life, gifts, talents, and yearnings for the sake of money—whether for one’s own gain (or survival) or for the gain of an employer or master.
History has seen men, women, and children cycle through soul-crushing subjugations to every type of master—with reforms and revolutions mostly just empowering some new over-lord.
We pretend The Great Chain (vis-à-vis humans) was broken with democratic and industrial revolutions yet we seem to have merely extended the reach of a harsh, unmerciful over-lord—debt. An over-lord, extant from ages past, loved by the market-place, oft fed by inadequate wages, and now bloated with manufactured desires.
Why do we, too often, sacrifice gifts, talents, dreams, soul, and integrity to over-lords like debt, pay-checks, perks, bonuses, loyalties, prestige, possessions, security, etc.? Perhaps the chief cause is Fear, as in “What will become of me if I leave my soul-depleting employment?” How long before oppressions and stress manifest in mental illness?1 Can one prosper in doing what nourishes the soul?
Haven’t we endured long enough the dogmas of competitive capitalism? Don’t we have enough evidence that cooperative capitalism is the more sure means to widespread prosperity and to the pursuit of happiness for the majority? Why is our excess (if we have any) locked in investment reserves (managed by financiers) instead of “kick starting”2 projects WE deem worthy?
Thankfully, more and more activists are challenging the discredited ideologies of omniscient markets and global glorifications. Until we reject the false extremes of “free-market competition,” self-interest, and profit-primacy, The Great Chain of Being Subservient will persist in its various manifestations from the most elite HyPEs (Highy Paid Employees) to the working poor to the involuntary unemployed.
Thoughts sparked in part from studying The Great Courses “Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World,” with Professor Robert Bucholz; from David C. Korten books; and from Yes! magazine.