Two Cons: “Institutional Education” and “Meaningful Work”

You fell into the trap: you got an institutional education.  You funded that education with loans. Those loans, you still believe, will have to be repaid. Also, there’s all the consumer debt you slowly accumulated while looking for “a career,” that silly, stupid beast. Ah, now all the loans will be repaid by working them off. That’s why you work now, that’s why you have that bullshit job you have.

The hook went deep and it’s still got you. Can you feel it jerk its way into your gut?

Had you known, many years ago when you were young and stupid, that the goal of institutional education was to coerce you to work each day for the rest of your life on the grounds that you now had to pay off that debt you got, then you would have avoided the trap. Where were all the grown-ups, then? Huh? But you didn’t know and there weren’t any grown-ups (or they were out to exploit you) and you didn’t say no to that moron Common Sense: that education is “obviously” funded by taking out loans and that the point of education is to make you into a total worker.

Man is this shitty. But it gets worse.

Because since then you’ve deceived yourself into believing that old song and dance, which is really a new song and not much of a dance, about doing “meaningful work.” Bleck! You’re gonna work–you bought this lie too–most of your waking hours; you’re gonna work largely to pay off the debts you wouldn’t have had had you not be so “educated” (can it even be called education, or shall we better call it by its name: a nasty, ugly, rotten con?); and you trick yourself daily into believing that you’re doing meaningful work when in truth it’s a bullshit job. But all this is what the early Marx sniffed it out as: it’s ideology, that is, false consciousness, false beliefs, continually reinforced, about what is actually the case.

Oh but you know you’re not alone. Because everyone around you is working and working each day, all day because they too believe they have to pay off debts and because they too believe (i.e., make themselves believe) that they’re doing “something meaningful” with their lives. Stick first, carrot second. Indistinguishable actually because the carrot was always attached to the stick. That was the magic trick.

The world of total work, meanwhile, casts its ever longer, ever larger shadow over the totality of life. Is there anything else? Huh, Amazon.com?

Now, maybe, maybe, you get the joke. The world of total work is a world of actual enslavement. Only this time each person has enslaved himself. Damn if that dead asshole Foucault wasn’t right about that. How about that for an absurdly new turn of events? Self-enslavement: perhaps, at such scale, a novel form of folly.

What other great inventions can we humans come up with? Come on now: something to outdo the Anthropocene.

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