"Why We Quit" - Civilian conscientious objectors.
Why We Quit. Civilian conscientious objectors. The work ethic is unethical.
by Todd Boyle
The human species, surely, has some inborn characteristics that endure
over time frames of thousands of years. Our human nature is not so
far from us -- it is accessible to anybody in touch with their own
body and mind. It screams out to us through the desires and
aversions we feel.
For example I'm a 55 year old guy. My nature tells me to drop
everything about once a day, and walk out the door and bicycle or run
across the landscape, for an hour or more. The exercise seems to
balance my blood chemistry. The movement seems to satisfy some
craving or curiosity to investigate the area.
During the dark winter months my nature tells me to curl up in a warm
bed and sleep a lot-- sometimes 12 hours a day including naps.
The social order around us obviously does not operate by the same
instincts. I see a lot of useless commotion, a continual roar of
noise, the environment dominated by constant traffic and
I see a political economy guided by a very small number of people
who write the paychecks for our bosses and bureaucrats,
a vast population of employees doing whatever we're told,
and most of the instructions we're receiving useless in satisfying
anybody's human needs.
What humans need is pretty simple. Maslow's hierarchy. Decent food,
warmth. 90% of the GDP is not necessary for our biological needs. Our
food is produced by less than 10% of the workforce. The other 36
hours of our 40 hours of work is art. We could be doing *anything*.
Or nothing. Why is our art so ugly and violent? Why do we have to kill
millions of people 10,000 miles away, and spread toxic pollution and
destroy our oceans and lands?
What's in the skyscrapers downtown, truly, is useless commotion -
people struggling for control over the material outputs of a globally
integrated economy. People persuading, selling, manipulating and
inducing and compelling other people to do things. Marketing, law,
software and financial services, the accounting, the brokers, holding
companies, and corporate suites. Ask the people. Many of them openly
admit their occupations are fundamentally obsolete, or corrupt, or at
As a CPA for 20 years I realized my profession was intrinsically
corrupt. Accounting is a fabric of lies for tax and reporting, for the
advantage of the powerful.
I gave my life to something that was unnecessary for any real
production. We were paid by the powerful, always grudgingly and with
contempt, to recharacterize their losses as profits, or profits as losses.
And that is the story of downtown Seattle. It contributes less than
nothing to the production of goods and services. Organization,
scheduling, and coordination of human activity is essential. And
downtowns were once necessary-- managers and clerks needed
to be close together. But then came the telephone. And radio.
and computers, networks, and cellphones.
All necessary mental work is done by computers -- all of the routine
inventory, accounting, scheduling, logistics. Anybody doing that kind
of work has been sacked, the same as laborers who were replaced by
machinery. When a barcode scan at the cash register automatically
adjusts every inventory, shipping and manufacturing schedule all the
way back to the raw material suppliers, why do we need a concentration
of skyscrapers downtown, let alone building more freeways and bridges there?
Humanity adapted to automation in an ugly way. We could have worked
less. Instead, our work changed into a destructive manipulation of
other people -- empire.
Today's downtown is about capture. It stalks and subdues producers of
everything, to collect rents or fees. It prevents alternative ways of
doing things that cannot be captured. It is a hydroelectric dam, extracting
energy from humanity in pursuit of desire, and forcing ever higher
volumes of activity.
resources of the planet - a motor racing without a governor. We have a
duty at some point to be satisfied. To quit producing and consuming.
Quitting is the only ethical thing to do.
In fact the work ethic must be abandoned. Humanity learned a work
ethic as adaptation to the industrial revolution. But now it is just
as inappropriate as tribal mores during the industrial age.
The question is, what will be the new ethic? The people in those
skyscrapers have long abandoned the work ethic. They have learned to
avoid work and maximize takings. That is the business ethic.
My ethic is much simpler: quit working, and float like a jellyfish.
The war in Iraq has been the last straw, for me.
I burned my CPA license. I am a conscientious objector. I've
been thru this too many times already. The Vietnam war, the Reagan
wars, the Gulf war. I'm tired of obeying the orders of unfit bosses
and dictators. I will work no more forever. I have my dignity.
There is sufficient food. There is sufficient warmth. There is nothing