Human Versus The Machine

We can’t ignore our incompetency any longer. We can’t compete with our own technology. The machine simply possesses more skill. With its databases, it dwarfs the body of knowledge contained within our heads. It can produce more in a year than the individual human could in an entire lifetime. The effect of this is that society has grown immensely complicated. We struggle to package it all, struggle to aggregate all the confusion into an understandable form but in the midst of all this confusion, one feature of modern society is clear. The individual takes the beating. The machine, including the institutions as part of its apparatus, gets the bailouts, and the imperfect, laboring individual gets very little. We might improve ourselves to stay relevant in this economy, but the machine already surpassed us in aptitude. We don’t possess the brain power to process as much data, and we can’t obtain first hand experience in all facets of life. We’re no more omnicompetent and omnipresent than animals.

We really have underestimated animals. We’ve vastly overestimated ourselves. The animal is thought to lack reason and intelligence, but many times it is us who can’t see what is plain and obvious. We can’t eat money. We can’t use objects as surrogate companions. Knowing this, we chase money and collect meaningless objects anyway. When is humanity perfectly reasonable? Do we not find ourselves in a dark place surrounded by liars, con artists, thieves, murderers, and rapists? If we really are superior to animals, we certainly don’t show it. In order to rise above our primal instincts, we must understand our limitations. To progress as a species, we must admit to building unmanageable superstructures. We’ve created parasitical corporations. We’ve created governments and other complex, oppressive bodies that disenfranchise and demoralize the individual. We’re rightfully concerned with these institutions, for they seldom bolster humanity and many times end up corrupting it.

I understand why we cower under the shadow of these institutions. The individual can’t perform miracles. We definitely can’t do much in such a hostile environment as this. We try to make the best of this economy even though it steals our humanity, our hope, and our will to live, and I understand why people want to escape. Pleasure might be an appealing alternative to all of this, but pleasure isn’t the truth. Many of us are in dire economic straits. To make matters worse, there will be many who’ll try to justify our hardship. They say that the poor are lazy, unskilled, and not worthy of employment. They say all of this despite any evidence to the contrary. These are the same people who know very little of the poor. They speak in ignorance. They cling to the unrealistic notion that hard work magically translates into wealth, and it mentally cripples them. They group the underemployed and unemployed under the same demeaning label, and what they don’t understand is that the world isn’t a just place. Hard work can be fruitless and wealth can be stolen. Thus, as our society shuns the poor and characterizes them unfairly, why should they bother caring anymore? Society made it clear that they have no more stake in the world than the roadkill sprawled out on the highway.

What can men do when there is absolutely no hope? What can they do when there’s no one around to depend on for support? What they might do is lash out in an anti-social way. I don’t condone violence nor do I perpetrate it, but I understand that when society treats the poor like they’re monsters, the poor gives society the monsters it expects. Plus, if we label them monsters, we can absolve ourselves of our responsibility. If they’re only monsters, we can give ourselves permission to keep floating through life like ghosts with no backbone and no common decency. We try hard to forget, but none of us are totally insulated from the poor. I know we like to pretend the poor are living on another planet. We like to pretend the poor are all drug addicts and criminals but more and more people, through not so much fault of their own, are in fact dropping out of the upper and middle classes and struggling financially. Plenty of people from diverse backgrounds, including young adults, are beginning to understand economic hardship. Where are the signs of economic recovery touted by the mainstream media? College graduates have yet to stop working retail, serving coffee, and drowning in their outstanding, unforgivable debt.

Human Being, Not A Utility

These people are casualties of the broken economic system. This system destroyed much of the wealth that was created by the people. Our wealth was dependent on American manufacturing, and corporations shipped their manufacturing plants overseas. Now we reap the consequences. A prosperous nation produces, hence why the American economy never recovered after its transition to a service economy. As the economy consistently worsens, loyalty wanes in the business world. Employers are less loyal to their employees, and employees return the favor. This tension is of course not limited to business. Although it shouldn’t, the economic disaster definitely spoils our personal relationships. Marriage is now a husk of what it formerly was. In the past, marriage used to imply love and commitment and deep respect for vows. Our vows and our word mean nothing now. Culturally, we have no discipline nor sense of decency. The promise to love and cherish comes with stipulations and if the money stops flowing, many women break their vows and abandon their commitment. These transactional marriages are becoming the norm since many women are too materialistic and narcissistic to learn how to live with less. As soon as a man loses his job, chances are that his wife will be unfaithful and leave him for another whose financial life is in order. Doesn’t this remind us of the corporate bottom line? This is disgraceful. A human being is not a utility.

Jobs are scarce and employers have the power. Employers not only underpay desperate job applicants but once they’re hired, they increase their work load to unfathomable levels. Though to be clear, not all corporations intend to profit at the expense of the individual. Our economic failure isn’t as simple as we pretend it to be. War is complicated too but obviously much more detrimental to the individual and much more beneficial to the institutions. For example, the United States carpet bombed Laos and Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Carpet bombing is indiscriminate killing, the type of killing that sums up the true nature of war. This is how war really works. It has little to do with any romantic notions about serving one’s country. Even the best of intentions won’t outright prevent civilian casualties and once war is declared, we all can bet that the violence will spill over and encroach on civilian life.

War doesn’t even end after peace is declared. Once the ammunition rounds cease and stop tearing up our cities and natural landscapes, the violence doesn’t miraculously stop. The local civilians don’t automatically return to normal life, and they don’t stop suffering and dying. This is because the aftermath of war can last for decades. The Vietnamese are still suffering from the lingering effects of the Vietnam War. They’re unknowingly triggering mines, the same mines which were buried in their soil decades ago. In Laos, civilians are still finding unexploded bombs dropped by the United States during the same war. The bombs can explode sporadically. Even when handled by a professional, they are nowhere near safe. Operation Keelhaul is another tragic event in which civilians suffer and die after the war officially ends. World War II was officially over, and the Allies forced Soviet refugees to return back to their psychopathic communist country. The Soviet Union naturally welcomed them like they would any political dissidents. They proceeded to either execute them or imprison them in their gulags. Once again, the individual unjustly suffers and dies. It’s almost as if these political and economic structures are farming humans. Our structures treat us like exploitable sacks of meat.

Humans themselves, of course, allow this to happen. We gave consent. It’s just too bad that we’re too busy obsessing over what feels good to realize this. Ultimately it is ourselves, not the heartless, societal machinery, that force humanity into perpetual, inhumane servitude. The brutality of war won’t occur without our passiveness and our participation. Nothing good comes from war. War is the societal machine marking humans as imperfections, offensive absurdities meant to be expunged. Sadly, humans agree to this extermination. We generally don’t protest it. We’re too busy trying to get rich and trying to copulate with as many people we can get our hands on. As long as we’re allowed to earn money and escape in self-indulgence, we’re fine with tyranny, right? This is why banding together with a sense of honor is important. Helping each other, without judgment, without this smug sense of superiority, is important. One individual is no match for the societal machine. A group of non-cooperative individuals is no match for this machine either. The societal machine runs on violence and exploitation. Humans fueled it, serviced it, and maintained it for decades.