If everyone is born unique and creative, how was it possible to brainwash billions of people to bury their creative spirits, genius, to give up their dreams, and to buy into the idea of being merely an employee in a factory, following instructions?
Part of it was economics, no doubt about it. Factory work offered average people with small dreams a chance to make a significant change in their standard of living. As a bonus, this new wealth came with a pension, job security, and even medical aid insurance.
But I don’t believe that this was enough to explain the massive embrace of a different way of life. The key piece of leverage was this promise: follow these instructions and you don’t have to think. Do your job and you don’t have to be responsible for decisions.
Most of all, you don’t have to bring your creative genius to work.
The factory mentality made many people rich. Got to school, get good grades, get a good job, follow instructions and earn a good salary. If you want more salary, go back to school, study further, pass, get promoted and earn higher salary. More and more. If you are good at following instructions you earn a good performance bonus.
In every company in every country in the world, people are waiting to be told what to do. Sure, many of us pretend that we would love to have control and authority and to bring our humanity to work. But given half a chance, we give it up, in a heartbeat for security of a salary. We settle for the comfort of a salary instead of the risk of exploring our creative genius, in the process selling our creative soul to the highest bidder.
Like scared civilians eager to do whatever a despot tells them, we give up our freedoms and responsibilities in exchange for the certainty that comes from being told what to do. People want to be told what to do because they are afraid (petrified) of figuring it out of for themselves.
So we take the deal. We agree to do a job in exchange for a set of instructions. And for the hundred years that it led to increasing standards of living, it seemed like a very good deal. Until 20,000 Ford employees at the River Rouge plant who were obedient, following instructions, we told that their services will no longer be required anymore at the end of the month.
It seemed like a very good idea to have factory job until employees’s jobs were standardised to a point that in an endeavor to reduce costs, those jobs are now replaced by machines. Mining compaines in Marikana (a mining town in the North West province of South Africa) are increasingly automating their key mining operations, after all machines don’t go on strike asking for a living wage.
Technology and automation has replaced standardised work that humans used to do both in the factory and in the office.
The factory job as we know it is coming to an end. The factory work remain important but is done by machines. Trade union membership is declining worldwide, not because workers are no longer interested in their rights but because companies are no longer employing workers in large numbers.
There are no longer jobs enough for everyone. No one is going to pick you, pick yourself.
Innovation, creativity, standing out and no fitting in, doing work that matters, doing your art, work that cannot be replaced by machines (or anyone) is what will make you indispensable.