Saturday, May 25, 2024

David Graeber’s theory of ‘Bullshit Jobs’ in capitalist economy

A bullshit job is usually one that does not create any value for society. Mostly it is socialist governments that are accused of employing millions of useless employees. In his book Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, David Graeber argues that capitalism is a major generator of bullshit jobs which entangle masses into an endless routine of toil that produces no value. 

Graeber notes that in capitalism those employed in bullshit jobs often have more importance, power and privilege than those who have the responsibility for jobs that are absolutely critical. “Those who work bullshit jobs are often surrounded by honor and prestige; they are respected as professionals, well paid, and treated as high achievers,” Graeber writes. 

Large universities and even multinational companies like Apple, Microsoft and others have huge bureaucracies. Many of their jobs could be related to bullshit tasks like filling compliance forms and surveys, creating content that no one will read and going to meetings which lead to no outcomes. 

The most interesting argument that Graeber makes in the book is that bullshit jobs exist because modern civilization is based on the idea of hard work being an end in itself. Everyone must do hard labor for a number of hours every day—this is the fundamental principle of modern civilization. If real jobs don’t exist, then society will create bullshit jobs to make everyone labor. 

“Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at,” Graeber writes. He says that like medieval feudalism, capitalism creates an endless hierarchy of lords, vassals and retainers.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

The alchemy of hope

The most important drivers of nations are not the economic and political realities but the collective hopes of the masses that in the future dreams will come true and life will get better. Hope is not founded on facts—it is founded on mythologies, lies, dreams, stories, random experiences, religious feelings, emotions and unprovable philosophies.

Humans learned to hope before they learned to speak and read, create mythologies and stories, build civilizations and fight wars, philosophize and make scientific discoveries. For tens of thousands of years men have been hoping that the Gods, who can be appeased through prayers, exist. They have been hoping that when they die, they will escape from the suffering that they have endured on earth and live happily in heaven in the company of their Gods. 

Most modern men might not believe in Gods or in heaven and hell, but they have discovered ideologies and technologies which fill them with hope. Some have hope that communism will create a heaven on earth, a utopia. There are those who hope that the utopia will be created by capitalism. The conservatives profess hope in their own version of religion, nationalism and tradition. The technologically inclined profess hope in digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence. 

Hope is mankind’s primeval attribute—it is an essential character of the human mind and psychology. Hope enables us to believe in mythologies, lies, stories, dreams, religious ideas, philosophies and ideologies, and become inspired to struggle relentlessly and make great sacrifices for creating and sustaining civilizations. Our ability to hope is the key attribute differentiating us from other creatures on earth.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Must read for India’s politicians & bureaucrats: Tim Schwab’s The Bill Gates Problem

My negative opinion of Bill Gates has been confirmed by my reading of Tim Schwab’s book The Bill Gates Problem: Reckoning with the Myth of the Good Billionaire. Schwab accuses Gates of flooding money into the academic institutions, think tanks, media houses and advocacy groups to control their research and reporting, and their political and social activities.

“Gates donates money from his private wealth to his private foundation. He then assembles a small group of consultants and experts at the foundation’s half-billion-dollar corporate headquarters to decide what problems are worth his time, attention, and money—and what solutions should be pursued. Then the Gates Foundation floods money into universities, think tanks, newsrooms, and advocacy groups, giving them both a check and checklist of things to do. Suddenly, Gates has created an echo chamber of advocates pushing the political discourse toward his ideas. And the results have been stunning.”

He also accuses Gates of using his wealth to buy influence in the mainstream media.

“Bill Gates is not plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into journalism because he believes in the democratic ideals of the free press or because he is a personal fan of watchdog reporting. His private foundation funds the media for the exact opposite reason—to defang his watchdogs and bring them to heel, to promote his agenda and embellish his brand, to create propaganda that builds his political power, and to control the narrative that guides public understanding of his work.”

The book turns the spotlight on the myriad misdeeds that Bill Gates and his so-called charity have committed in several nations. According to Schwab, instead of improving healthcare in Africa, Gates’s charity has led to a decline in the quality of healthcare services in several instances. 

Bill Gates has been trying to push his vision of education and healthcare reforms in India. If India accepts the Gates plan for education and healthcare, then the country is doomed. I hope the politicians, bureaucrats, academics and journalists in India will read Tim Schwab’s book, and they will stop listening to Bill Gates.

I don’t trust Bill Gates. I have always seen him as a tech-villain who peddles philanthropic activities for buying false prestige and political influence. I find his TV interviews annoying because he talks like a medieval mullah delivering fatwas and sermons to his flock. 

Gates seems convinced that he has the answer to mankind’s every problem, but the solutions he offers are always politically correct, draconian and statist.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Nature cannot be destroyed: The mythology of environmentalism

Environmentalism is founded on the idea that whenever men create material things, they destroy nature. But nature is indestructible. No power in the universe can destroy nature.

From the tiniest subatomic particles to the supermassive black holes—everything in the universe will transform if sufficient force is applied on them. The duel between mass and energy is a constant feature of the universe. Everything in the universe is constantly being transformed—but nature is not being destroyed in the process.

Man is a product of nature and every material thing that man creates is part of nature. Man has the power to transform nature, but he has no power to destroy nature.

Agriculture is as natural as forests. Highways are as natural as the forest paths carved by elephants. Cities are as natural as the moulds built by termites and the hives built by the bees. The dams are as natural as the rivers. The refrigerators in our homes are as natural as the glaciers and snow-capped mountains. The shopping malls, the airports, the railway stations are as natural as the caves, carved by non-human forces. 

Man does not destroy nature even when he engineers a massive nuclear explosion. In the stars, clouds of cosmic dust, supernovae and other heavenly bodies nuclear explosions are happening all the time. All kinds of radiation, including light and heat, which are the fountainhead of life, are constantly getting generated in the universe primarily through nuclear explosions. 

Most environmentalists are atheists. They deny the existence of God in heaven, but they have developed a mythology which projects man as a super-powerful God-like entity who wields the power to destroy nature. This conception of mankind as the God who is capable of destroying nature, is flawed. Man is part of nature. Man is mortal, nature is eternal.