Society is nothing more than individual psychology multiplied by too many to count. If narcissism is what drives this society, then only narcissism will explain it.
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I realize that “the system” is a nebulous term relying on an even more nebulous “unconscious”, lacking clear definition, so I’m going to try and define it. First, start with a single individual, and eliminate value words like “purpose” and “unintended consequences.” If a guy cheats on his girlfriend in a way that likely could get him caught, one might say, “he wants to get caught.”
Now add a few more individuals. I want an ipad, but I can’t afford the $10000 it would cost to make it in America AND generate to Apple the same nominal profit of $300/ipad, so then the ipad has to be made in China with cheaper labor. So while one can say, “the consumer wants an ipad,” and “Apple wants $300 in profit per ipad” the sum of those wants is “the system”: “The system wants cheap Chinese labor.” The system doesn’t want it because it’s awesome, it wants it because it added up the wants.
To be clear, the fact that ipad consumers don’t “want” cheap Chinese labor is irrelevant. All of their choices want cheap Chinese labor. You can say the same about renewable energies, something that everyone says they “want,” yet all of their choices sum up to the system’s want: the system wants to protect the oil industry. The CEO of ExxonMobil isn’t to blame, you are.
To go back to Sandberg, if the system wants cheap female labor, how would we change the system? Only by wanting different things. Simply, if the majority of women wanted to work less, that would be the game. But the majority of women do want to work less, but they also want to buy X, Y, Z aspirational products, and they want X,Y,Z way more then they want to work less. If you sum up those “wants,” and add in the wants of Nordstrom’s, Nine West, Whole Foods, Visa and Mastercard, etc, and throw in what the media wants, then it is technically correct to say: the system wants women to become batteries.
The final twist to this otherwise simple addition is that what you want is often taught to you by that very system. For example, in running through the above, what you didn’t say was, “maybe I don’t want an ipad.” That thought cannot occur to you…. because the system wants it. Try saying this to your friends and see what happens: “I’m not interested in a career, I just want to get married and have kids.”
The juiciest target for extraction by the system is not “The 1%”. The people that label is supposed to refer to can meet their wants and needs easily, and are more or less groomed by each other to behave in whatever way they do. Instead, the target is percentile 85-99, the “Aspirational 14%”, those with the resources to cover basic needs, but with the ideologically reinforced optimism to want what the 1% has some day (of course, in virtually all cases they never will, but the dream needs to be kept alive). The Aspirationals can be taught how/what to want.
Sorry for the wall of text, but this was the first thing that came to mind when seeing this TLP article.
What about this article appealed to you or made you think?