Long before we were born, "The System” was already in place—a method of organizing life that is made up of sub-systems for our education, employment and governance.
Just like humans, this System evolved over time. Its purpose is to serve the greater good of the group—from tribe to settlement to society—which often requires sacrifices from its individuals, especially regarding labor.
In his ground-breaking 1964 treatise entitled “ One-Dimensional Man ,” German philosopher Herbert Marcuse (1898~1979) examined how the political, social and cultural structures that have made our lives easier have also limited our employment choices and freedom.
“People depend for their living on bosses and politicians and jobs and neighbors who make them speak and mean as they do,” he wrote.
Marcuse used the term “one-dimensional” to describe practices that conform to pre-existing structures, norms, behaviors and thinking—an inability to be critical and access potentials that transcend the existing System.
Getting out from under the System’s domination and control in order to obtain true individual liberty is the dream of many.
But the appeal of the System is great. It pays us for our time and labor. In return for conformity, it provides housing, food, clothing and protection. It also punishes us for breaking its rules.
How, then, might one escape? Is it really possible to leave the System?
The answer can be found in creativity. Doing what has been never been done before. Thinking what has never been thought before. Living and working in truly new ways.
Technology is providing the tools that allow this to happen. Instead of focusing on “finding a job” within the System, an innovator can now create work outside it.
Working from home, more and more people are starting businesses on the Internet and selling their services globally. Just consider these examples:
Authors of ebooks need not be dependent on traditional publishing and distribution channels.
By shooting videos that go “ viral ” through online social networks, young singers or comedians can become famous overnight.
The electronic age is making the playing field more even, so that a home-based seamstress can actually compete with designer fashion brands.
While some have turned to day-trading to take advantage of financial markets, others have found profit in buying and selling goods on auction web sites .
- More than a few of society’s “drop-outs” are now making a living by playing games all day long at online poker rooms .
This is the “brave new world” described by science fiction of the past. It can become a reality in the present for those who are willing to take the leap and leave the System behind.
Alfablue, November 2011