National Blow-Off Day
I was on my way through town this morning, heading south out from Austin’s core as others headed north toward what I assume was their jobs. Traffic going my way was markedly thinner than the stop-and-go crush of the northwardly flow. I found myself thinking “I wonder if that is what it looked like in Egypt as the people left the slave-district to build Pharaoh’s pyramid.” The whole ‘going-to-work’ thing took on a sharp focus for me at that moment. People, I believe, go to work for one reason: the Pharaoh says that they have to.
Anyone who has talked to me lately knows that I have really been hung-up on the imposed systems of our society. Probably the last two decades of my life has been an on-going exploration of and resistance to those systems that exist and define our lives. Whether lately I have been getting “better” or “worse” about these issues is a matter of relative opinion; I am becoming more frustrated and more prone to act. Thus, a new blog and a “new” idea.
Obviously, I use the idea of “Pharaoh” symbolically. This Pharaoh is the systems of order that are imposed on each of us almost as soon as we are born. Boy/girl, rich/poor, good/bad, quick/slow, motivated/lackadaisical, producer/consumer, content/disillusioned…we are given pre-defined sets of options leading each of us to be better slaves for the Pharaoh. Ideally (for the Pharoh), we buy his bullshit about satisfaction with our lot, accept what he passes off as entertainment to keep us pacified, envy our immediate “superiors” in the system just enough to strive for the baubles that they have, and never…ever look up from our set tasks to wonder if we might be better off without the Pharaoh. What keeps us from just taking our own measure of goods and walking off into the desert?
Wisely, the system keeps each of us thinking that we are individuals, and that as individuals we are powerless against the unified might of the Pharaoh and his resources. As a matter of fact, ideally we ARE a part of his resources he would use against any individual that would decry him and his methods. “Keep your head down.” “Don’t rock the boat.” “Quit complaining.” “Just do what you are told.” Some people are so dependent on the system that they will fight and die to defend it. The possibilities frighten them. There are beasts in the desert, waiting to devour them. Without the protection of the Pharaoh, they are lost.
The power of the Pharaoh, of the system, is in its ability to demonstrate how, through the unification of its resources (you and me), it is able to make its will reality. Our will as individuals, we are told, is not worthy of manifestation. Obey the system, the police-man is your friend, A is A just because.
I watched the cars drive north as I went south, and wondered what would happen if they all just turned around and went home. The Pharaoh says they have to go to work. They have to work not to have the things they want, but to earn the things they need. The wants are delusional, established by the system, to make us easier to motivate. Maslow suggests a hierarchy of needs that I won’t detail here. Suffice it to say that the Pharaoh, the system, has established laws that make it illegal or extremely difficult to achieve the most basic of those needs without assuming a position within the system. Food, one of the most basic needs, grows everywhere. You can pick it from the trees, pluck it from the fields, and hunt it in the forests. That is, unless the Pharaoh manages the trees, controls the fields, and makes hunting game nearly illegal. We have allowed an artificial gambling house to arise in our reality and encompass us; all the tables are rigged, all the decks marked, and the house wins… always. The means to satisfying your basic needs are regulated by the government, therefore you are under their control.
What would happen if they all just turned around? The flow of cash powered by the consumer/worker-drone is the life-blood of the system. If the slaves cease to work, the system ceases to function. He that can destroy a thing controls that thing.
Obviously, the consequences of such an act would be dire…but what if it were not a permanent cessation of the normal paradigm? What if, for one day, when the bees were supposed to go about their tasks for the queen, they all instead just did what they wanted? What if, as an act of defiance of the system, everyone just took one day, together, and did not go to work? We would have a true National Blow-Off Day. For 24 hours, business would have no choice but to either close their doors or else the owners would need to work the registers themselves. The point of the demonstration would be to convince ourselves that the individuals are truly empowered, that our lives are in fact our own. I am not talking about a holiday, a pre-scheduled and system-ordained break from work. I mean a true, “everyone calls in sick” day.
The conditions of the experiment would be simple. Everyone would agree to do this on the same day; let’s say Monday, October 31st. Nobody likes Mondays anyway, and we could all use a three day weekend. Everyone just calls in sick. You don’t take a vacation day. You don’t give your manager/boss/supervisor/division coordinator/corporate masters any warning. Even if they know it is coming, the point is that the system should not have time to prepare to cope with the stoppage.
Everyone would also agree not to patronize anything that would require that one of their fellow wage-slaves be at work to service them. Hopefully, everything is closed by 11am anyway, but just in case someone doesn’t get the memo NO MONEY FLOWS ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 31ST! Some could see this as anti-capitalist. That is untrue. I suggest that everyone prepare for the 24 hours when the system stops; gas up your cars, buy plenty of food, make certain to have your games/rent your movies/have your sex lotions all in your favorite flavors…whatever. Preparation for the National Blow-Off Day might actually stimulate the economy, but the slight increase prior will not be as impressive as the 24 hour lull. The point is that you turn your back on the system for 24 hours.
Be prepared for anything. If everyone does stop working the power could go out (how did we manage before electricity?), the police and emergency services might be inactive (what will we do if mom and dad isn’t around to protect us?), and hospitals might not be staffed (what about our boo-boos?). Take care of yourself and your family. Go camping. Take your family out to the woods and enjoy one another’s company. Call in sick from deep in the forest and then shut off your cell-phone. Invite some friends over and light a bon-fire…whatever. It is one day of irresponsibility.
And, let us dare imagine that this idea actually catches on. When the system compensates and we see the smiling face of Obama-hotep or whoever wears the Pharaoh’s mask at that time announcing that the government has adapted the National Blow-Off Day to it official holiday calendar, be prepared for an underground call for a new National Stay Home Day on a different date. Revolution is a part of our heritage; we became a society by giving the king the middle-finger. It is time to start stretching that digit again.