End Wage Slavery
Slavery was never abolished, it was just made impermanent.
Having to rent yourself out to someone else for 40 hours/week in order to survive is not freedom. You’re a slave with better work-life balance (albeit less job security).
A 1869 New York Times article described wage labor as “a system of slavery as absolute if not as degrading as that which lately prevailed at the South”.
So why 150 years later does wage slavery still exist? The same reason slavery lasted thousands of years:
- Ideological justification
- Difficulty of changing the status quo defended by a powerful armed state
How society rationalizes Wage Slavery
Wage slavery has been deemed morally permissible in the collective conscious by the assumptions that:
- You have no right to anything that isn’t yours
- All the land and natural resources are privately owned
This inherently makes people not born with wealth dependent on the owners who happen to own all the land and wealth, manifesting itself in the wage slave relationship. Either starve and go homeless, or sell yourself out to the highest bidder and become a wage slave (or find another way to obtain money).
Since you’re inherently worthless, you must go into debt in order to receive an education for a diploma that you (realistically) need in order to get a decent job, mortgage a house, and eventually retire. Maybe by the time you’re 65 and have chronic back pain, your mortgage and student loans will be fully paid off and you’ll finally be able to live life with dignity for yourself rather than for the owners, subsiding off basic income (social security) and socialized medicine (medicare) for old people.
It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to see the systematically entrenched disparity here. Either you’re born with ownership, or you must literally sell yourself for a slice of that pie. Society is split into owners and non-owners, capital and labor, rich and poor, independent and dependent, masters and slaves, or whatever you want to call it.
The way our system is set up, it will always be this way, no matter how collectively wealthy our society is. This is not liberty or freedom, it is slavery with benefits — or slavery rebranded.
But why should anyone be entitled to anything that isn’t theirs?
Why should anyone have to sell out their entire lives to put bread on the table while entire generations of families don’t have to work a day in their lives?
Our society puts way too much priority on money, to the point where we neglect basic common sense, such as the principle that individuals should have dignity and be endowed with basic freedoms such as liberty and autonomy.
Despite the fact that wage slaves vastly outnumber their owners, it’s unfortunately very difficult to induce change within our wealth-weighted representative democracy. Most wage slaves don’t even realize that they’re slaves, and eliminating wage slavery would be completely against the interest of our “representatives” (half of Congressmen are millionaires) and the wealthy individuals/corporations that buy them out.
How do wage slaves not realize that they’re slaves?
They’re too busy competing against each other for crumbs to see the bigger picture. They’re kept in a state of permanent financial stress — half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and almost everyone is one surprise medical disaster away from bankruptcy. When you’re stuck in the “Safety” rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, overhauling the system isn’t your highest priority.
Even the relatively well-off are too focused on their personal quest for freedom (financial independence), which by the time they’re old enough to achieve they’ve either developed Stockholm Syndrome or are too old to care. Also when you’re finally wealthy, it’s not in your personal interest to reduce your own wealth. Most people — like the slavemasters— don’t have the integrity to fight for what’s right, as opposed to whatever is in their own selfish personal interest.
The wealthy-owned media is particularly effective at brainwashing the wage slaves into believing they’re free, or distracting them with irrelevant scandals and issues of lesser importance (eg. building a wall to stop the immigrants). Fox News, a propaganda arm of the wealthy elite masquerading as a news network, is the most watched TV channel in all of television. Advertisers also contribute to this permanent state of distraction by creating a culture of consumerism.
How to end wage slavery
The first step is to make wage slaves aware of the fact that they’re slaves. This all comes down to education and giving people the tools to see through the propaganda and bullshit. The recent U.S. presidential election shows that enough people are outraged and are fed up with the status quo.
In terms of actually policy changes, Universal Basic Income (UBI) has the great traction and promise. UBI eliminates the dependence of the wage slave on their master, effectively ending wage slavery. Even if the UBI didn’t work as effectively as intended, it would sow the seeds for an intellectual revolution due to the intellectual bandwidth freed up from wage slavery. Work would no longer be tied to profit, and thus we could finally focus on fixing and upgrading our archaic and broken political system. Ideally the UBI would be funded primarily by a land value tax and Pigovian taxes (eg. carbon tax).
Short of that, wage slaves can fight for better working conditions such as more flexible hours, remote work, more democracy in the workplace (corporations are run like tyrannical authoritarian regimes with strict militant-like hierarchies), and reduced hours. The fight for an 8 hour work day was a prolonged struggle, but it doesn’t have to end there.
We have an uphill battle because it’s a lot harder for wage slaves to speak out against wage slavery than other issues (eg. net neutrality) for fear of being fired, deemed unemployable, or even being banished from working in their industry. The masters who benefit from slavery have no incentive to end this system that benefits them, and the wage slaves are thrown just enough crumbs and promise of more bread (the American Dream) to be complacent.
But the French Revolution was successful. If ending slavery isn’t worth fighting for, then I don’t know what is.