4 July 2001 the 27th anniversary of my resignation from employment
05:00 Woke from a nasty dream in which an orthodontic surgeon was advancing towards me (I was lying helpless on a hospital bed - or was it an operating table?) saying that he might not do what 'this person' wanted.
This person was an ordinary dentist who had been shocked to see the mess my teeth, and also my skull bones (which I've recently learnt are evolved from vertebrae) were in. Badly displaced. (...actually they are OK...). He has asked the orthodontist to put things right.
The orthodontist was lame, and bent sideways, perhaps because his own teeth (and skull and upper spine?) were distorted...
And then I switched on the radio to hear:
'The lord of the dance' - a BBC programme in which a Katha Kali dancer (with a strong Lancashire accent) told how, in the six hours of making up the face into a mask for the dance, she could feel the violence of the goddess Kali and other 'spirits of the dance' gradually taking possession of her so that she could perform not as herself but as them. How I love this sort of thing.
The programme (about the spirit of south Indian dances) was produced by Rosemary Harthill - she often makes inspired religious programmes - I feel that she is one of the people who are doing really good work at the moment, though I don't share her Christianity)
A news broadcast:
Germany's population is likely to drop by 20 million soon and people are calling for the admission, each year, of 40 thousand highly skilled people (plus their families) from other countries to keep up the high standard of living in Germany. (If I heard it aright?) They call for an end to perceiving Germany as a country of no immigration (or of no imagination!). Someone (who sounded well informed) said that the facts were unquestionable: young people are not having children until they older and old people are living much longer - so there are bound to be far too few young skilled people to keep the others in the comfort and in the economic security and welfare that they are used to.
My reaction (after the excitement of realising that we are indeed in the presence of historic or evolutionary change) was to remember my growing and lifelong conviction that there is deep a fault in the argument...
...all my experience and ideas concerning machines and people tell me that it is a mistake to believe that human work creates the wealth and 'high standard of living' in industrialised countries. It is not human muscles but the energy of the sun (released from fossil fuels and from direct sunlight by industrialised agriculture and other processes) that permits and keeps alive the vast increase in human population. The skilled people who believe that it is their work that is keeping the rest of us alive and in comfort are mistaken. Most of such work is, I believe, anti-social - because it vastly inflates the cost of things which can be produced automatically, without middle-class people. (see 'the internet and everyone' pages 79 to 103 for the detailed argument) It is anti-social and anti-life and anti-universe to create growth and jobs just to keep people occupied and out of social mischief and in possession of too many cars etc that should be far fewer and automatic and shared with everyone. We should retire from work immediately and leave nearly all of it to machines!
If my view is right (and I feel certain that it is!) then the correct action for Germany - and for all countries that are industrialising (and which aren't, at one speed or another?) is not to steal skilled people from less industrialised countries but to automate, to aim at a fixed state of no economic growth beyond a sustainable standard, and to empty the factories and offices of people - each of whom is given an equal share in the steady-state wealth that can be produced without human effort once the contradictions of the growth economy are undone.
Human skill is needed only for the achievement of a worldwide standard of living which, when it is achieved, ceases to depend on human work except for maintenance - and relies on cost-reduction and redundancy and unemployment and 'education for leisure and citizenship' to enable everyone to adapt to this vast change towards what I call 'the aristocracy of everyone'. Without work! We just have to change the language to what is 'post-industrially correct'. To be unemployed is divine and to do paid work is prostitution. Leave it to the sun!
...and now I run to cover before we all, in our paid roles as specialists and work-lovers, realise how destructive we are... that we are paid to take the narrow view. Let us look to our dreams... we can do it!