Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

creative expression as a human right

What would a world without the profit motive actually look like? To what ideals are we actually striving, when we talk about shrugging off primitive, animalistic instincts and consciously shaping our evolution as a civilization and as a species? It is difficult to answer these questions with any great degree of detail, since such a word would be so profoundly different from our own it would be virtually unrecognizable. Our minds in their current states are, perhaps, unable of even fathoming what a civilization would look like that was consciously designed at every level, down to the most minute detail.

But it is fairly easy to speak in generalities. We can point to the major flaws in today’s social order, and simply state that, in a better and more just world, such flaws would not exist. So, for example, when I say that the profit motive is a primitive and barbaric impulse that should be cast aside in favor of a more evolved world view, what, precisely, am I advocating?

Well, a world without the profit motive would be a world where everyone had, at the very least, enough. There would be a certain minimum standard of living provided to every human being simply for because he/she is a human being. It’s that simple. Being human entitles to certain basic rights; hence the term, woefully disregarded in our culture, human rights.

Having enough food to eat is a basic human right. Having access to clean water is a basic human right. Access to proven, effective medical care is a basic human right, and no one should be profiting from the illness of anyone. Shelter and protection from the elements is a basic human right, as is access to education and the full breadth of the knowledge base that humanity has been steadily expanding since our forefather first stood on two legs all those eons ago. And perhaps most importantly of all, the the ability to engage in creative expression is a basic right, a right that is so fundamental to what it means to be human that it is shocking our current social order has managed to survive for as long as it has.

In a wage-slavery system such as our own, people are forced to spend the bulk of their lives engaged in menial tasks, merely to fill their bellies and keep roofs over their heads. The 40-hour work-week, itself an abomination, is largely a thing of the past as most workers today devote 50 or more hours of each week to a job which is in most cases utterly meaningless.

If the supposition is correct that creative expression is a fundamental human need, what effect would this have on a person’s sense of happiness, fulfillment and personal well-being? If a person spends the majority of his/her life engaged in a task which has no real meaning beyond a cog keeping machine of capitalism functioning, can that person truly be happy? Can that person find a sense of satisfaction in life? And if not, couldn’t we classify this system of wage-slavery as a form of torture?

In an ideal society, one which is shaped around our most cherished values as fully conscious, self-aware human beings, the fundamental needs of food, water, shelter and health care would be taken care of, allowing all people of all walks of life to devote their previous time on earth to fulfilling that ancient and most crucial need of meaningful creative expression.

People often question how society would function without the profit motive. Why would people continue working and innovating, if there was no material reward for doing so? If a person does not need to work in order to feed himself and his family, why would he choose to engage in work? Such questions ignore what is perhaps the most quintessential of all human qualities: the need for creative expression. The motivation for humans to partake in meaningful activities that contribute towards the betterment of the species would not be material gain, but rather than innate need for humans to express themselves, solve problems, and expand the limits of understanding and knowledge. Few humans would be content to merely sit around their home each day eating and drinking; humans crave challenge, and nearly all humans will seek out meaningful challenges if given the opportunity to do so.

The time is long past for our schools to be extolling the virtues of capitalism and the universality of the profit motive. Parents and teachers alike must begin nurturing that curious and inquisitive nature that is present in every human child, leading children to realize that this impulse to learn and grow and express oneself is the most beautiful and fundamental of all human qualities, and that this quality in and of itself is the only motivation we need to live and prosper and grow.

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One response to “creative expression as a human right

  1. René September 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    An old post but it made me sad regardless. I myself am 19 at the moment and doing an internship for 40 hours a week and after even just one week I feel hopeless. Is this what I’m studying for for years and years? To waste my life behind a desk typing code (doing a IT study) which does not even benefit humankind… Is that a life which society wants me to have? I feel sad about the state of mankind if it is. I want to make a difference, better the world even though it is terribly cliché. If I die I want to have made a print in history even if it is small. The twisted modern society can not facilitate this and instead I feel/am bound to spend 40+ hours a week doing a pretty useless job. What is the point of me being in this world then? Loved ones is ofcourse one point but how can my actions ever benefit large groups of people? I am just one man and the pressure of society makes sure I will not develop, that I will not find your own “calling”. When I am done with my study I will continue on university but what after that? Life on your own? You have to pay the rent… Get a job and get bound to it and destroy your chances of truly finding your own path. Money makes this materialistic society run after all. Get a job, marry a woman, get children… Hell throw in a dog just for the heck of it and work 40+ hours a week without anyone ever noticing it, any other sucker could just take my place anyway. When you get old and die your children are next in the modern materialistic pipeline. Experience the world? There is no time for that! Ok then go on vacation for 2 weeks and “discover” the world, now chop we need you back here double time for useless crap! Mankind’s existence is so futile. I got a bad day obviously but my life feels wasted already…

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