TED Conversations

Mackenzie Andersen

manager, Andersen Studio

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Pride in one’s work matters to the individual and the society. Work brings life meaning- work is not just a means to an end.

Leslie T Chang is using an “end justifies the means argument”, which purportedly represents the voice and courage of the workers in the global factories but serves the corporate agenda well. Nothing she says is untrue as it is a general truth that people will make the best of whatever circumstances in which they find themselves. Chang’s argument at best works as a collective voice of a collective society and represents a sort of tyranny of the majority in which those that don’t fit the collective world view don’t really matter and as such they become the social outsiders who in this day and age are ripe candidates for the global terrorist movement.

I in this blog post, I pursue the denigration of the act of “making” in which I make the connection between the local ( in my case Maine, USA) and the global. This post is part of an ongoing series.


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    May 24 2013: I am not sure what you are calling nonsense .This subject is actually pride in one's "work" and the conversation was posted in response to the conversation Leslie C Chang- The Voices of Chinese Workers who presents the scenario that it is only Westerners who care about the working conditions in the sort of factory that you describe. Ms Chang, a well dressed young Harvard educated Asian woman bases her opinions on interviewing Chinese workers whom she glorifies for accepting the job in its self as having no particualr meaning other than ast a means to an end. Ms Chang presents this as a bravado attitude on the part of the Chinese worker as if they are putting one up on the owners of the means of production, which these days is the global investment community

    .My gut instinct when I heard Ms Chang;s presentation was that she is a clever spokesperson for the corporate factories, posing as a spokesperson for the Chinese workers. She is presenting the way that the owners of the means of production want the worker to think because the owners have created exactly the conditions about which you speak- conditions in which there is little pride to be had in the work that one preforms in the here now. The value of the work is indeed outside of the job as the only value of the job is as a means to an end- which is measured by wealth and what wealth can acheive.

    I am saying that is delusional glorified corporate hype. The work process matters to the human expereince and has an intrinsic value of its own independent of the wealth that it may or may not bring but my vision of work is not framed by the factory type of job that you have described. You seem to be in agreement with Ms Chang in taking the pride out of the work process and then seeking pride somewhere else and of course one can derive pride from activities outside of work but that is not the point. All of life matters.
    • May 28 2013: Ms. A.: I'm afraid the idea that Industrial Society is going to provide even tolerable "Jobs" for everyone is seriously out of date. The Luddites pointed out the problem, but even they did not have to cope with AI and robots, I see nothing in the History of Capitalism, or its practice (outside of a few eccentrics like Henry Ford) that does, or could , justify paying a live person an
      "excessive" salary for doing something that a robot could do better.
      As for myself, and my Nordic sympathizers, we naturally work like beavers, just for the creative feelings it brings. (I'm not kidding, Look at all those rich kid scientific geniuses in Victorian England) But the pay is limited.
      It is not hopeless, however. Just as our present comfortable level of civilization was enabled by cheap coal and oil, basically, our future can be even better once we get serious about using Thorium LFTR energy (cheaper than coal, and plentiful) Once it is accepted by everyone that "jobs" are a thing of the past, it becomes the "Rich family" problem: What do we do to keep younger ones out of trouble, with no jobs. lThe answer is the usual: we create "jobs" , however useless and inefficient, according to taste.and interest. Like lots of Artwork, NGOs, anything at all. We would be able to afford it. All we have to do is convince the !% that if they don't go along with it, its the French Revolution all over again.
      All is not hopeless, however.

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