Are we being pigeonholed into slavery?

September 21, 2012 3:43 pm

On my commute home from work I look at the man sat opposite me. He is wearing a grey suit and is slumped in a battered old seat. The tie is gone, collar undone and suit jacket folded neatly in his lap. He seems determined to stay awake, but slowly his eyes begin to close. Finally he succumbs to the fatigue and eventually his head starts lolling about like that of a “press base toy”.  I think about the day he might’ve had; sitting behind a desk, staring at his computer screen as endless requests flood in. Is he a CEO, a Vice President, an Analyst, I wonder? Regardless, his exhaustion has caught on. As I glance around the carriage I see I’m not the only one yawning.

Bringing me to my point, when was it decided that our careers trumped our personal lives in every sense?

Ok, so let’s very briefly asses the history of employment:

Before the industrial revolution (1750 – 1850) manual labour was the dominant occupation. The majority of jobs were local to the home, allowing people to balance their familial duties with their work obligations. Trade expansion induced a dramatic shift from manual labour to mechanical manufacturing. Increased productivity resulted in economic growth, and with growth the possibility of expansion. As immediate transportation became less of a spectacle and more of a means to an end the distinct separation between personal and work life began. One may surmise that the ultimate goal of commuting to work was to get ready for the corporate world and leave behind the sentiments of family and home.

I think we have to question our jobs in relation to our lives. How it affects us both negatively and positively. Personally, I love that I frequently meet new people and gain insight into a variation of industries, I am constantly learning. However the capitalist market I work in (Banking) goes against the majority of my beliefs, and is inevitably a moral dilemma. I compromise for the system, but gone are the days when getting a job you enjoyed or could at least tolerate was a viable possibility.

Canary Wharf: built up, unnatural, artificial. Can spending so much time here BE healthy?

Today’s youth (myself included) are expected to praise the heavens for any low –paid position that may miraculously come our way. Remember, taxes are up and employment opportunities are down. Regardless of how much we may despise going in every day, the media alongside many others in power, constantly scare-monger us into appreciating the dull job we so fortunately have the pleasure of showing up to do. To quote my Aunt “Multi-national corporations and Governments are forcing us to make do with less and be grateful for it.” Meanwhile, the big businesses make more profit than ever before.

Leading on from that, I think work has become a central factor in the decline of courtesy. An elderly woman can walk the street burdened with a heavy load of shopping and we are simply too busy to lend a hand. Instead we focus on how we can get from A to B in the fastest way possible. We city folk live without the support of a community nowadays and seem rather content in our stern glances exchanged on public transport. To put it simply, we’ve isolated ourselves.

As my fellow tube dweller is jolted back into consciousness by the announcement of our arrival at Bond Street station, I think that we too must wake up. It’s essential that we either accept the drudgery foisted upon us or come up with a radical new system, ideally enabling us to re-claim our lives as our own rather than those of the totalitarian fat cats sat in power.

Are you compromising what you truly believe in for your job?


  • The 99% are in slavery, and 98.5% of them do not know it. This is very sad, as the article says: it’s time to wake up! We are all working to benefit a minority: banking families, petro-chemicals, big-pharma, these guys sit way above governments in power hierarchies. As the American presidential elections show, potential power brokers (politicians) are bought and paid for right from the get-go, it does not matter who gets elected, their strings are attached to the same puppeteers! Politicians reward for complence – a high paid non-executive post behind closed doors, eg Tony Blair on the Board of J P Morgan-Chase, Peter Mandelson in that eitist and secrative group Bilderberg. And what do these people do behind closed doors? Change socio-economic power in their favour, to suit thier plans. We are not just talking power and money, but population control: people sick for life depending on big-pharma; families in debt to banks for life, nations adicted to oil for transport, power and fashion products. BUT remember, we are the 99%, and we are a whole lot larger than the 1% in control – people power has changed inequalities in ther past and can do so again.

    • Simon Phillips

      What a chilling reminder that functionally we are generating citizens who are corporate automata. And I agree entirely with all the points you, Silvah and Roger raise.
      But it isn’t all doom and gloom. There will always be people who simply choose not to engage their minds politically, and they can and do thrive happily within the system. There are also many people who enjoy their jobs.
      There will also always be dissenters: people who are capable of achieving alternative lifestyles and holding radical attitudes.
      The encounter on the Tube train is sobering, but we have all share the opportunity to be stimulated by music, art and social environments that defy any attempt to straitjacket us.
      That said, this DOES seem to be a particularly impoverished time, and many of us really do work blindly to reinforce an oppressive regime.
      To adapt Wilde, we may well all be in the gutter, but we can all look at the stars if so inclined.

  • silvah

    Any social organisation compels us to sacrifice SOME personal autonomy for the common good. In employments, workers have duties to support themselves and others, thus they cannot be as ‘free’ as they would wish. However, it is in the vested interests of politicians, whether secular or religious, to limit individual sovereignty even further. They profit by it immensely in many ways, often unjustly. Unfortunately, too many of us prefer a complacent dependency on the contrived social structures that our leaders impose upon us. To preserve any balance between social responsibilities and self-determination we must remain eternally vigilant lest our personal autonomy be whittled away. While it may be true that we create our own reality, we do so collectively as families, communities, nations and as a species. The alpha-leaders are always in the minority and can be challenged. But where a herd mentality prevails, mavericks are seldom accepted either by leaders or by their peers.

  • Kalisayswhat

    Thank you all, I really appreciate the feedback and Simon I agree that there are amazing things to celebrate in this life, It’s nice to know that optimism is alive and well. I hope to one day find an alternative way of life that doesn’t depend solely on the corrupt system I am progressive becoming more enraged with. That, my friend, will be a happy day.

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