We are through the looking glass, all the rules have changed. As the government shake their fists at the unemployed masses, their faces twisted in rage, they fail to realise that it is they who have let us down. This is not the age of indentured labour, miners strikes and enforced ignorance. It is not the age of Lau Tsu and Machiavelli.
'Do not exalt the worthy, and so keep the common folk from contention.
Do not let them see desirable things, and so spare the hearts/minds of the common folk from disorder.
Therefore the way the sage governs is to keep their hearts and minds empty and their bellies full.
He keeps their wills weak and their bones strong.
He always keeps the common folk free from the capacity for knowing and from feeling desire.
And prevents the knowledgeable from ever daring to act.'
- Lau Tzu
Nobody in their right mind, living in an enlighted age such as the one we are entering into would work under such principles. The youth of today aren't lazy, they're too intelligent to involve themselves in such practices. The mentally ill, as commonly as not, are the unexalted worthy. It's not surprising that so many of us drop out of a society that teaches us to look after ourselves at the expense of others, a society that teaches us that there are people in the world who are unredeemably evil, a society that often exalts the greedy and the unscrupulous at the expense of everyone else.
In my experience, those of us unencumbered by a political education are not inherently selfish or lazy. Quite the opposite. But we have been living in a society where the access to resources has been traditionally controlled by a priviliged few, who expect everyone else to conform to their (grey and uninspiring) expectations and values before releasing any of those resources. I have two things to say about that. 'Fuck' and 'off'.
So what's the alternative? Well there's no point fighting the state. Warfare is, and always has been, inefficient and wasteful. It is better to make your enemy your friend. The easiest way to do this is to make more money than them. How do we do this? Traditionally this is done by gaining a 'competitive advantage'.
One gains the competitive advantage through controlling the supply chain, squeezing the competition out of the market, underpaying suppliers, saturation marketing, neuro-linguistic programming, collusion, profiteering and monopolisation.
The government doesn't particularly approve of such tactics. In fact they generally support diversity, innovation and social entrepeneurship. The government is not our enemy in this instance. As long as we can work within the rules of the free market (again, not an evil concept), the government is our friend.
How can we gain the advantage without resorting to such tactics? Well, let's start by changing the terminology. Let's look at 'collaborative advantage' instead of 'competitive advantage'. When we work with motivated people, we can multiply the overall profitability, so we don't have to compete with them for limited resources. Instead we work with them to increase our scope and coverage. We can gain advantage through the use of technology to increase our network and reduce overheads. We can 'work clever' instead of 'working hard' to maximise our efficiency and make the best use of our time. We can also leverage upon people's philanthropy, rather than their inherent selfishness, to earn more, by doing things that help our communities or our environment.
So how can you be philanthropic and make money at the same time? Well it's simple. Any money above and beyond that which you need to live at some basic level of comfort can be re-invested into other people. If you have good friends and are creative and engaging outside the work place, it is possible to enjoy life without the latest wide screen television or a bottle of wine or two before bed, every night.