Corruption and Misemployment
By John Taylor; 2010 Nov 19, Qudrat 16, 167 BE
So far we have two new institutions for Cosmopolis Earth, the stele and the worker's palace. Each is a technical aid in applying justice and other principles of Cosmopolitanism. The stele is a robotic mediator and an aid in stake-holding, fitting individual effort into the overall plans of Cosmopolis Earth, and vice versa.
As we saw, the spread of steles will establish a new right to advice, an expectation on the part of all to be properly guided at every stage of human endeavor.
The second institution is an adaptation of Flora Tristan's worker's palaces, a tool for equality between women and men at the grassroots level. More broadly, the worker's palace, to be built in each locality or neighborhood, would fulfill a major social goal that is now largely neglected, to assure that everyone has a hand in the world of work, preferably by plying a trade or profession. As everybody enters fully into an organized calling, the main source of corruption in human affairs will be cut off.
The Root of Corruption
In Panorthosia, John Amos Comenius holds that the root of corruption is lack of organization. Reforms cannot last until we somehow eliminate corruption. In a prayer "for the reformed age," Comenius wrote,
"So many efforts at reform have been attempted in all ages, often apparently reaching the brink of success but always relapsing into the former state of corruption, that we mortals are now as in the past as hapless as Sisyphus, and without thee [God] our efforts always have been and are and ever shall be doomed to failure." (Panorthosia, Chapter 27, p. 248)
For Comenius, fecklessness and idleness -- what we now label as unemployment -- are both causes and results of a vicious circle of disorganization. Every time work halts or jobs are lost, a random, disorganizing element is injected into our lives. Fewer hands can touch the reins of power, wealth concentrates into fewer pockets and a vicious cycle of centralized power accelerates. So dangerous is it that he would have made unemployment socially unacceptable, indeed illegal. Nor, as he points out, was he the first to think this. He cites many precedents in history where legislators laid down obligatory work laws.
"The Egyptians of old had a wise law, like the Chinese of today, forbidding the deaf, the blind, the halt, the maimed, and even the victims of gout, from going idle, regardless of their wealth. Solon, the Athenian lawgiver, passed a special law against the idle and indolent, giving everyone the power to bring an action against them. Also God in His holy word passed the law: 'If any will not work, neither shall he eat.' The Romans had no temple to Fors Fortuna, the so-called patron goddess of the idle and unemployed, inside the city, but built one across the Tiber to demonstrate that idleness must be kept away from the boundaries of a well-established city." (Panorthosia Ch. 24, VI, pp. 103-104)
Of course, one can be overemployed as well as unemployed. Like everything in life, work is beneficial only in moderation. There is a sweet spot where one's service is fulfilling but not overwhelming. When it blocks out leisure, it is excessive because leisure is necessary to a reflective, examined life. On the other hand, too much leisure and too little work breeds dissipation and excessive pleasure seeking.
As it is, the workplace is plagued by unemployment and the threat of unemployment and, worst of all, misemployment or crime. Comenius explains what true full employment would mean,
"No-one in the state should be allowed to be idle, in the sense of failing to make an honest living for himself and his family by serving society in general through farming, craftsmanship, trade, or politics. My argument is (1) that no-one should learn to misbehave through having nothing to do. Therefore this should be prevented in the individual's own interests; (2) that others should not be corrupted by this bad example; (3) that there should be no occasion for begging or sharp practices; (4) that in such circumstances the idle body does not nourish any of its parts."
The wisdom of this is clear. When society fails to involve young people very early in a productive trade, criminals willingly step in. Youth gangs and organized crime get a stranglehold on the lives of adolescents by offering entry positions as petty crooks, preying upon the common good. Full employment from the earliest age would help end one of the great blights on humanity, crime and misemployment, within a generation. Of course none of this would be possible if the local community did not make every effort to provide semi-skilled work for young apprentices. This would be one of the goals of Flora Tristan's worker's palace. Even if entry level jobs were heavily subsidized at first, the community would still profit overall from the savings of a steep drop in the crime rate.
Needless to say, the educational system has a central role to play. Its first duty should be to assure that every child in the world learns a trade. Having a balanced, fruitful career organizes one's life and makes it easier to hit an optimum level of work and leisure. It canalizes effort into meaningful investigation over the long term.
Vocational training must therefore start early, in primary school. Each pupil should be fully apprenticed in at least one trade upon graduation from middle school. This was commonplace until the mid-twentieth century but it for spurious reasons it was abandoned in favor of over a decade of sitting in a classroom.
Taking vocational training up once more would help both society and the youths themselves, since recent research indicates that adolescents need working relationships as early as age 15. Plying a trade would improve the general happiness and even brain development of adolescents. (see, Joe Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen, Escaping the Endless Adolescence, as discussed in, http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/nurture-shock/2009/11/05/why-teenagers-are-growing-up-so-slowly-today.html)
Once we have full employment, wisdom will become an attainable goal. Wisdom, Comenius believed, will mark our collective coming of age, the very consummation of human evolution. Once we enter into the cosmopolitan condition, it will even be possible to attain what he called pansophia, universal wisdom.
"For in the final age of the World man must come to the highest stage of all. Therefore philosophy, or the love of wisdom, is not sufficient; wisdom itself must be present, and not its shadow but its body, and its body in whole and not in part; therefore it is not merely wisdom, but Universal Wisdom, that we need. Similarly politics or poliarchy (skill in governing cities or kingdoms) is not enough; this final age requires Universal Rule, or wisdom in maintaining any human society at any time in peace and prosperity. Lastly, religion is not sufficient; what we need is Universal Religion, binding all souls to God in every way with all His virtues." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, Para 43, p. 169)
In the next section we will look at an institution designed to enable universal wisdom, the stoa.