In the modern world people need jobs. Employment gives us a source of income so that we can pay bills, make a home and bring up kids. We take this as both fact and inevitable, for most of us will be short a lottery win or, lamentably, independent means
It was not always like this.
For our recent ancestors [all of those humans who lived before the invention of agriculture some 10,000 years ago] it was enough to find food, water and shelter on the back of your own effort.
People hunted and gathered with their time as they sourced from nature what was needed. They lived in groups to share out the workload, spread the risk of bringing up the kids, and protect the best gathering patches, but in the end they ate what they found.
No doubt there were roles within these groups but no jobs.
We assume that the employer worker story — the perennial struggle between capital and labor — began much later and in the scheme of things very recently. Paid work probably began in earnest around the time agriculture which would mean that 190,000 years had past where anatomically modern humans had existed without a salary.
Today everyone in the western [and increasingly the eastern] world has the notion of a job and we assume that most covet one. People know the difference between employer and employee even if they may not fully understand the mobilization of capital. Except that half the people alive today find their ‘jobs’ in subsistence agriculture where all their time is taken up growing food for themselves and their family.
In many ways half the world’s people are closer to the joblessness of our ancestors, tending and gathering from their kitchen gardens, paddies and maize fields. The other half could not imagine life was possible without work. How else would the rent get paid?
Idea for healthy thinking
Do you think it is possible in mature economies to return to such joblessness or roles without jobs?
It is hard to imagine that we could give up our competitive natures. Money and our desire to compete for ever more of it satisfies that need without resorting to its obvious alternative of beating each other up.
After all those hunter-gatherers did more than hunt wildlife with their spears and arrows.