An adjective often used by politicians trying to influence us to support their policies is hardworking, but what are they really doing by using it?
Hardworking is putting in a lot of effort, but isn't that what people are generally doing? The inclusion of it is implying that maybe some are not, and so perhaps should be excluded from consideration. The word is implying that only hard work counts for anything, but who is saying that that is a valid thing for us to be doing? After all, we have been promised for decades that technology would allow us more leisure time, but many are having to work more just to survive.
The whole implication is part of the modern propaganda that only though hard work can we advance our lives, but that doesn't apply to those who are born into wealth. The real question is whether we should have to be working so hard at all. A different emphasis that doesn't favour making money so a few can be very rich would allow all of us to just work a few hours a week as that would be all that is required to keep our societies ticking over to keep us all in a comfortable, if not conspicuously-consuming, life.
The word is part of the propaganda that pushes us to create a lot of excess wealth that the few take for themselves, largely as a result of us spending the money that we have earnt on a lot of extraneous goods and services that the same few are telling us, by bombarding us through advertising, will supposedly enhance our lives. So not only are we supposed to work long stressful hours, but dissipate all the effort by blowing it on expensive stuff that provides us marginal value.
There is a con going on here, and that is that keeping us focused on working hard and getting rewards is a ruse to stop us asking why we need to. We are seemingly only useful while we are the fodder that keeps a system going that is devoted to the benefit of a few, but makes sure that most of us can never break out of the stress treadmill. And even then, those stresses are useful to feed a healthcare system that also syphons off the hard-earned money to benefit the same few.
It's like as if every point of our contact with the neoliberal system has been optimised to extract as much value from us as possible, without providing us with enough to actually break free of it. But that is only if we follow its rules, and we don't have to do that. We can back off from the commitment to its false values and choose alternatives that don't sacrifice our health and wellbeing.
Neoliberalism is based upon money, and while it rules, we have to rely upon money to survive in the system. However, we personally don't have to base all our decisions on money. We have been programmed from an early age that money is our ticket to freedom. But we don't actually get to be free if we act as if we are addicted to it. We are trained to think that the only way that we can change something about our lives is by spending money first. But that is not really the first thing we should think about.
We have been persuaded that anything we want is just a whim away, and that all that is required is just to spend the money to get it. But that is not how we really go about it. We have to do some thinking about it, even if it is about the logistics to actually make it happen. So, the first change is to think about what we actually want out of what we think we want, and then think about what alternatives might get us a similar experience without the outlay. Is there a much cheaper way that is just as satisfying?
Consistently choosing less expensive ways of occupying our time can lead to needing less money. At that point we can choose whether we want to spend on more things, or just work less hours so that we actually have more time to enjoy the less expensive things to do. Or we could just use some of that spare time to be present with people for longer, and not feeling like we have to cram them into artificially constrained schedules so we can get back to our busy jobs. So much we do is defined by our work life, but it doesn't have to be. We have chosen to be stressed. We can choose not to instead.
If enough people choose less work-dependent lifestyles, our societies will have to change so that they can function without so many hours to support them. Of course, those dependent upon the cranked up neoliberal system will fight back with more cajoling rhetoric and ever-increasing advertising, but by then we will have tuned out to a lot of it. Just as we will have individually chosen to do things in less expensive ways, our societies will have to choose do things in less expensive ways.
Societies spend a lot on buildings and other works that support the grandiose indulgences of the rich, but otherwise remain largely unused. We may have decided that rather than purchase expensive tickets to premier league sports games, we go to a local park and play a relaxing game with friends. That means that the grand sports pavilions designed to house a huge amount of spectators who buy overpriced food and team merchandise, and which are usually funded by taxpayers, will not be needed. The same for making our own music with friends rather than sit passively watching rich artists.
What we individually decide can have dramatic influences upon our societies when enough make similar decisions. We can set the example which gives permission for others to change their lives, and that is just because they get to see that the choices they have been making can be changed, and that doing so can substantially reduce the stresses that they have been putting on themselves to conform to largely false promises of supposedly better lives that have only imprisoned them in debt and continual reasons to deny themselves peace.
It seems hard to buck a system that spends so many resources on ensuring that people don't want to walk away from it, but it really comes down to making the simple choice to step away from believing it is the only way that we can run our societies, and then choosing what we can change in our lives that lessens our dependence upon what it purports to be necessary for our lives to be better. Often those things are to compensate for the problems caused by what else it provides, so walking away can untangle a lot of stress from our lives. We can choose to be free of so much stress.