Back during the industrial revolution, countries like Canada, the UK, and the US created factory like settings where individuals were removed from their creative processes. Once upon a time, farmers, workers etc. had a say in how things were run, and could innovate or create new processes to help fulfill their lives. Marx called this idea estrangement: in essence he argued that we are estranged from our labour and just become like the machines that we were meant to service. We were bred into banality, working tirelessly to build things we would never be able to afford. Where people’s lives may have used to be shorter, they at least had some say over how things would be done (except for all the minorities who obviously did not). This process of forced banality is something I would like to term: Wonder-Block. It’s the process when nothing seems achievable, even a beautiful sunset seems like a dull moment. The snow-tipped mountains that surround my place are suddenly the colour of slush, instead of bright white.
As time continued, and we gave people more rights, we changed the schema of what it meant to live. Now people wanted to work service jobs instead of industrial jobs. Unions raged, prices increased, until a solution was found: globalism. China was now willing to do what we did not for extremely cheap. Now we could focus on being inspired, create brilliant pieces of art, and someone else would be forced to create them, some Other. Essentially this choice to move our labour to another country allowed us to be detached from the process, less involved, less likely to be empathetic to people outside our nation-state, we moved on, allowing us to create things, be inspired, follow our passions: rise above.
So now, you can be left with either two thoughts: you are either frustrated at the state of how we have detached ourselves from other people’s lives so readily, or you can say: “Well, we can wonder, so it is fine that others can’t.” You could also be apathetic, but apathy is not a thought so much as it is a lack of one. Indifference is not criticality. To the second group of people, consider this: the amount of social, philosophical and technological achievement that has occurred in the last 40 years has been brought about by people who were not forced into being labourers but instead got to dream. Both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates came from working class backgrounds. When people are given the ability to achieve their full potential, when there is an existential drive, we get to experience great works. The opportunity structures have to exist for that to occur though. All of those people who are working at Foxxconn making someone’s Iphone don’t get that privilege. They’ll never get to innovate.
To me that seems like a great waste of human resources. Imagine a world where such access existed. That instead of being unfairly punished for living in the wrong country we gave people the ability to experience and change the world they lived in. When there is no hope, wonder cannot occur. If we really want to maximize human potential, then giving people freedom is the first thing we can do.