My National Novel Writing Month attempt opens with the words, Jimmy Drift Killed Himself.
I take a hop, skip and a jump over the initial arc. This is the inciting event. There isn't a day-as-normal beforehand. It is literally the first thing that the reader learns about the world: that a man whose name we are meant to know took his own life.
It opens this way because while this is new and unusual to the characters involved - the main character in particular, Alya K, a childhood friend of Jimmy Drift - this isn't new or unusual to the world the book is set in.
In a corporatocracy - the definition of which can be found here - the workers and citizens being ruled are essentially a resource.
Anyone who has worked in a business that requires a large amount of raw aggregate or materials for processing will know that there are margins of acceptable loss. That not every nut and bolt that comes into the workshop will be considered worthy or acceptable, and that if you find a screw that is damaged, you don't use it. You need a bucket of fine sand but this one got damp? Got to go get another one.
Stepping into a more modern setting, who hasn't been into a store with an automated check-out machine? Who hasn't found that out of the four machines available, one of them seems to be perpetually broken? All they are waiting for is a part, right? But there is a line of problems that leads to that part not being fitted. It has to be done by the company that put in the machines, and they have to clear everything, all of which is a very tidy earner for the company that makes those machines. Why sell someone a single unit, when you could sell them years upon years of continued service?
If the store could repair it themselves, though - no doubt they would just yank the unit open, put in the replacement part and throw the old one away immediately. Got to keep the store running, after all.
Under a corporatocracy, human beings who aren't shareholders or otherwise considered of primary importance to the company are either the consumers of the goods the company provides or part of the construction and delivery process. They are the nuts, bolts and screws. They are the aggregate. They are the bits in the self-service machine.
If they don't work according to the user or manufacturer's specifics, they get thrown out.
I've blogged before about Blade Runner - about how the treatment of the Replicants should be a warning to us, how it is a parable for an underclass considered too low or base to see as people. You know who I am talking about, what I am talking about. The Replicants - specifically the more advanced Replicants presented in the original movie - are built in with a limited lifespan because it is easier than giving them freedom or happiness.
So what do the people who made them and who used them care? What does anyone care? The usefulness of a person becomes the standard by which they are judged, and that isn't even something new. A great many societies have sought to minimise and marginalise those that they don't see as being useful in a societal sense. Can't work? No help for you. Can't do something we value? No help for you. Get into this camp. Get into this asylum.
When your only value or worth is tied to the work you do - when your life revolves around how your cogs turn as part of that great machine - then is it surprising that those who don't turn the same as anyone else would find themselves at a loss? Lacking in purpose? Would find the things that make life worthwhile harder and harder to achieve?
Especially knowing that, if anything happened to make an individual not useful - the individual would be replaced without a thought.
Businesses can't be trusted to look after people. It's like asking sharks to look after seal pups, bears to look after salmon. We are food. We are a resource. We are the grains of sand used to file down the imperfections of a surface. If we can't be used, we can be discarded. They don't really have to care very much about what happens if we discard ourselves, after the very environment they created opens the fissures into which we fall. Those fissures sell products - they are a thing held up as a place you will end up if you don't spend, don't save, don't do the things you are being told to.
Things we can't afford to do. So we fall down anyway.
And there's always another consumer, and always another worker.
Let's just remember that when those statistics come out - the amount of people that commit suicide every year - those are lives destroyed. Real lives. Not resources, as the shareholders would see them. Lives.
Just letting it happen is a monstrous but very everyday sin.
Post a Comment