Monday, 2 August 2010

Work and the "meaning of life"

Joe Moran writes in Sunday's Guardian/Observer (Cif), The ants march on, but we'd be happier as grasshoppers: the idea that work is the meaning of existence has little basis in biology:
". . nature writers like Mabey have pointed out that seeing work as the meaning of life is a human, metaphysical invention; it has little basis in biology."
Actually, the work ethic which governs and is wrecking our lives (as well as the planet) DOES have its roots in biology: in the misplaced and perverted expression of our Darwinian nature, which, in the artificial environment of human civilisation, has latched onto the pursuit and exercise of POWER as the most useful route to individual survival and reproductive success.
Work (of the kind we are talking about) translates into economic growth and MONEY, which is POWER in its most versatile form.
Just as humans domesticated certain animals, not for the fun of it, i.e as pets, but in order to exploit them in their struggle for survival, advantage and "success", so too society's ruling elites domesticated their own kind, and themselves into the bargain, in order to exploit them. We are trained and conditioned (just like a dog, by a regime of rewards and punishments, or promises/threats of them) to work long and hard, in order to produce the material wealth which, originally society's elites, and now everyone, wants and feels entitled to.
Work is a source of POWER (though not just, or even primarily, for those actually doing it), the possession of which has the potential to greatly enhance an individual's chances of survival and (especially male) reproductive success, which, from a purely biological perspective, IS the "meaning of life".