Wednesday, March 31, 2010

social contract

So, let's just get this out of the way right now before we go any further. I'm pretty much Hobbesian in my view of man and society, even though I'd like to ascribe to be more Locke-ian. The basic argument between the two (for the purposes of this post, and not, say, an exhaustive compare/contrast research paper on the two) is that Hobbes believed that without the social contract man would exist in a state of nature that was "nasty, brutish, and short" whereas Locke believed that "human nature is characterized by reason and tolerance."

Traditional views of the social contract posit that we give up certain liberties and freedoms in order to live in civilized society.... Basically, you give up the right to murder people and take their bacon with the understanding that other people won't murder you and take your bacon.

Anyways. That's all fine well and good, but in today's society, I think, (I swear I'm getting to the funny bit, just stick with me) we're not really in danger of people murdering us to steal our bacon, for the most part. I mean, most people will go to the grocery store and buy their own bacon without having to deal with the messy murder part.

Personally, I think there's a new social contract theory that's operating. It's the one that says something along the lines of "I will not point out how utterly pointless my daily tasks are. I will not get irritated when my coworkers use buzz words. I will attend meetings that suck my soul out through powerpoint presentations. And I will do all of this in exchange for my paycheck, which, while not what I am worth, still allows me to buy bacon."

Because today the concern is less that I will be attacked by Indians who wish to do me harm, than it is I will be nagged into apathy and suddenly snap one day when they take my stapler.

They really oughta put this sort of thing in the employee manual, or at the very least, make you sign it when you're doing all the hiring paperwork. I think it would really drive home what you're getting into before it's too late.

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