The Neoliberal Capitalist Endgame

As Michael Anissimov explains in an excellent essay about class and the history of labor, that endgame culminates in: 70 hours of work a week, no children, no family.

We read:

The capitalist system pushes us to work as hard as possible to increase our wealth and therefore our social status. In a world with less emphasis on tribes, community, and extended family, wealth has become the primary indicator of social status. Communists/socialists and libertarians/capitalists are equally obsessed with wealth, money, and their distribution, speaking of them as if they were the beginning and end of all human value, providing us not with just essentials for living but also the substance of social status and the arbiter of self-worth.

The traditional view of life places higher value on family and independent pursuits over “work” for the sake of work itself. This is why Evola places action over work.

In a capitalist, industrial system, without the benefit of organic, local social order, there is a tendency for national corporations to grow in power until they exert decisive influence over all aspects of human society. A social system is created where income is the sole determinant of social status, so there is no reason not to work as long as possible. This process has reached its logical conclusion in places like Japan and South Korea, where fertility rates are at extreme lows and people with corporate careers regularly work or spend time with their co-workers all day every day. This has led to social devitalization whereby many young people have even lost interest in romantic relationships. This is the neoliberal capitalist endgame; 70 hours of work a week, no children, no family.

In a traditional, normal society, more emphasis is placed not only on leisure but also personal study, activity, hobbies, and exploration. That is why Keynes and many futurists of the 20th century believed that in the present time (post-2000), we would use our great wealth to facilitate more time away from work. Instead, we’re trapped on a status treadmill that asserts we must continue to work harder at any cost, to improve our social standing.

The trouble with social standing is that it is a zero sum game, and the harder everyone works, the harder everyone is in turn forced to work to advance themselves. This frantic ladder-climbing can be contrasted with the point of view of the peasant or farmer, who is happy with who he is, and works towards a secure life within the limits of his natural station. Instead of purely working towards maximizing income, he values the good things in life, the things that actually are known to bring happiness: family, an emphasis on producing work with an individual touch, directly benefiting from one’s own hard labor, leisure time, socializing, and so on.

Interestingly, these “good things in life” are also enjoyed by the ultra-rich. Primarily, they are enjoyed by the upper lower class and the ultra-rich. The middle class are stuck trying to move themselves in the direction of the ultra-rich, unaware that if they just sat still, they might be happier. The parallel between the upper lower class and the upper upper class was noticed by Paul Fussell in his book Class. Neither class has anything to prove, and is satisfied with who they are.

Readthe whole thing here.

8 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but based on the excerpt, I’m wondering if this is some sort of Marxist critique of capitalism. Did I miss sarcasm somewhere?

    Posted July 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Marxist? Heavens no. It’s a criticism of capitalism from the right.

    Posted July 25, 2014 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  3. Kevin Kim says

    Ah. I thought “Marxist” because Marxist critics of capitalism normally make the same points about how people are overworked and not paid what they’re worth, and about how people’s work often has a depersonalized quality, unlike the work of the farmer, who enjoys an organic relationship with the fruits of his labor. This critique is fundamental to the Marxist view of capitalism, its dangers, and its injustices.

    Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  4. Kevin Kim says

    Obviously, I’ll need to read the whole article.

    Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  5. fnn says

    Have they started working longer hours in Europe yet? I’m asking since I could be 20 years behind the times. Back then Euros were known for short hours,numerous holidays and long vacations.

    Posted July 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Kevin Kim says

    fnn,

    For what it’s worth, the French still agitate, now and then, for a shorter work week, which is very much in keeping with the overall anti-capitalistic outlook of most French folks. Why work yourself to death when there’s all that joie de vivre to experience?

    Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:13 am | Permalink
  7. The problem of higher productivity not resulting in more leisure is multi-faceted. But one aspect is inflationary monetary policy. TANSTAAFL – money printing, like debt, is just borrowing from the future. So when you get to the future, you’ve got to work even harder (or smarter) to maintain the same living standards.

    Somebody better figure out nuclear fusion quick.

    Posted July 26, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink
  8. “Somebody better figure out nuclear fusion quick.”

    That’s been done. What remains to be done is the harnessing of it …

    Posted July 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

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