Human Resources of the World, Unite!

Eran holds the credit card and identity card during the demonstration against land reform

Eran holds the credit card and identity card during the demonstration against land reform

I have to give Eran Ben Yemini credit for setting off this train of thought when, at the recent demonstration against land reform, he observed that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government want to change us from citizens into consumers,  to determine our identities by our credit cards rather than our ID cards. I don’t think this a new phenomenon but rather part of trend that has been developing over the last 50 years. This is what makes the mad dash towards privatization so dangerous, that it is not new. The worship of market forces as the answer for all that ails us is a religion practiced by so many for so long that few even bother to question its’ basic tenets. You see, Mr. Netanyahu is not perpetuating a conspiracy nor is he a radical when he promotes his pro-business agenda. He is well within the mainstream. Slowly but surely we are being turned from individuals into human resources; human resources that spend the majority of their waking hours either working or consuming.

So where is all of this leading? Unfortunately I don’t think the following scenario is too far off. You get in your car in the morning and spend an hour in traffic jams going to work in Tel Aviv. You don’t live there but in Savyonei Kiryat Ono because that is the closest to Tel Aviv that someone with a normal salary can get an apartment. You spend your day making a newer version of something that already exists and works perfectly well. You have lunch in a chain restaurant that serves same standard mediocrity no matter where in Israel it is, standardized so that so that any employee can learn to prepare it in the minimum time with the minimum amount of training. You go back to the office to outsource some more of the work your company does to the other side of the world in order to save a couple of shekels, just in time to get back in the traffic jam home. On the way you stop where that nice orange grove once stood and they now raised another shopping mall, so similar to all the rest of them that you can’t tell whether you are in Eilat or Metula. You get home just in time to have missed putting your kids to bed, nuke some food, watch a rerun of a so-so reality show on public TV, order a new, improved GPS so that you don’t get lost in the traffic jams to work and go to sleep.

It makes me think of the Matrix when Neo wakes up to reality and realizes that he is being used as a battery. Privatization is turning us into human batteries, human resources. We are not teachers, doctors, programmers, cooks or police officers. We are being turned into education employees, health employees, software employees, food employees and security employees.

What am I doing to stop this from happening? First, I’ve changed my voting patterns. No more Meretz, no more Labour; they have too long a track record of doing nothing. Second. I’ve joined the Green Movement, my moral choice, no more strategic voting for me. Thirdly, I’ve realized that changing Israel for the better depends on me. Not through grand gestures but rather daily acts of optimism; by writing here, by talking to people at lunch, by changing the way I consume and eat and commute and raise my daughter. It is you and I and thousands of other human resources that will ensure that our lives are not determined by the invisible hand of market forces and mainstream blandness. Human resources of the world, unite!

Bram Spiero

5 responses to “Human Resources of the World, Unite!

  1. Indeed, sad but true
    I admire you for being able to step out of the “movie” and write about it
    Well written

  2. Daniel Ben-Tal

    My feelings exactly.
    For many years I prided myself on ‘flirting’ with accepted social practices while fooling myself that I was living outside the mainstream mind-set. Now that I am a wage-earning commuter with young bellies (and minds) to nourish, I wonder if I’m just another one of the millions sliding down that slippery slope to blind consumerism. Essentially, this lifestyle makes my living in Israel an irrelevance – I could easily be doing the same thing in other places on the planet.
    That’s why I’ve also ceased voting for Meretz, and chose the Green Movement in the last election. However, unless the party reaches the critical mass of votes necessary to pass the threshold for election to the next Knesset, I fear it will soon become a sidelined anachronism.
    btw, Who wrote this blog?

  3. It is what looks like the little things that count. A few weeks after the February 2009 elections, I went to the local grocery store, wearing my Yeruka T-shirt. Arkady the owner said, “So that’s what’s left? A T shirt?” We both smiled and he said, “But you know, you are winning.”
    “What do you mean?” I asked.
    “I see it here in my store,” said Arkady. “People are more aware. They check what is in the packaged foods they buy. They take fewer bags. They recycle bottles. They compare prices. When the next elections come, they will be ready to listen to you.”

    I hope he is right.

  4. עודד גלעד

    Essentially, the problem is that the world consumer is too strong, too free to harm, with no contradictory force to restrain him. Voluntary green or socially responsible consumerism is very important, but would not suffice. The idea of citizenship and trying to limit the consumer via the government is a crucial part of the solution, but as long as the consumer is global and the citizen is local the consumer will always win. The world citizen, represented in world government, is the only force that will be able to truly strain the world consumer.

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