Friday, 15 April 2011


After meeting young college graduates without work or working in fields outside their academic training, I thought of writing this article to address some issues of our time. One can easily search on the web for statistics of unemployed, underemployed college graduates, or employed in areas unrelated to their degree, and there one finds that this number is staggering.

Yet, the mainstream media, experts and consultants argue that it is the fault of the individual that s/he chose THE WRONG field to study. I had no idea that any type of college education was THE WRONG field, until apologists of corporate welfare capitalism defined it as such. If one studies physics, but most jobs are in high tech electronics, physics is THE WRONG field. In short, creativity and the quest for self-development is determined by the marketplace that inculcates into society the image of prudent career choices.

The modern guru media mavens, consultants, and businesses and politicians they serve are shaping both individual identity and social conscience that is far adrift from any human-based and human-geared model. And why not, given that the ultimate goal is to develop a corporate social conscience and a corporate-molded identity. Would our world and humanity be better off if John Steinbeck, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Einstein, just to bring up a few examples, had followed the corporate model of social conscience and individual identity? 

The innate moral compass is guided by both rational and irrational forces and shaped by family, community, local, national and world culture. This is in essence what leads to the individual to develop a strong or weak social conscience rooted in a sense of social justice and it is indicative of mature and reflective development of the mind that recognizes the individual is an appendage of the community. Not to sound as though the I am promoting the Hindu philosophy, but it is imperative to stress that it is difficult for the individual to know the many complex layers of self independently or separately of the community that encompasses all of mankind as Einstein argued. Therefore, having a social conscience is a way of self-understanding and appreciating the inexorable link between self and world.
Another dimension of social conscience is the embodiment of society's values and norms that invariably include religious doctrinal influences either consciously or not. Without wishing to enter into a detailed analysis of how religious conscience could be antithetical to social conscience because the former emphasizes personal salvation as the ultimate goal, I would argue that religious conscience can and has throughout history raised social conscience. Most people would agree that social conscience brings to mind such terms as altruism, benevolence, and above all humaneness toward one's fellow man. Therefore, we will dismiss for the sake of our thesis the suggestions that 'shopping' to benefit the economy, maximizing profit as a manifestation of 'success' (or a Calvanist sign that God favors the successful person), and other such examples that have individual benefit as the ultimate goal.

How has social conscience waned as the corresponding rise of the market economy evolved in the last half century? Atomistic value system is not a product of 'baby boomers' or 'generation X'; it is not a manifestation of post-WWII materialistic society; nor is it the byproduct of a bourgeois Western society that American-centered capitalism molded in the post-Great Depression era, especially in the 'affluent society' known for ostentatious consumerism (shopping mall revolution) from the late 1950s to the present. Atomistic values are found in ancient societies, but institutional structures that undercut social conscience or define it to suit their atomistic goals are of more recent origin.

Transcending time and place, the atomistic value system is rooted in learned behavior that the individual is above and outside the empirical world that is there to cater to the needs and desires of the individual who has no reciprocal obligation or ethical duty to serve the community. Separateness of consciousness - individual v. community - is what allows for the growth of atomistic values that in the individual's mind become the only reality. How is human identity shaped and why is it so steeped in atomistic values at a time that the social fabric is redefined if not disintegrating? Family may appear as the obvious answer, but what shapes family values? Institutions that mold individual identity of self v. community do so because there is an ideological, political, social, and economic interest in promoting such values.

The market-based political economy and institutions operating under its aegis is the dominant influence in shaping atomistic values. Is it a necessarily a negative development for the welfare of society to have the political economy shape atomistic values? Not at all if the goal of society is to promote a pyramid social structure (structural inequality) with all of its energies designed to commercialize (commoditize) everything from religion to theoretical science, thus subordinating creativity to the realm of a useful commodity intended to promote yet another round of profits. In such a society, the human mind's creative potential is conditioned to serve the institutional structures instead of realizing the innate creative potential.

If we agree that society is the total sum of atomistic interests in a state of perpetual conflict, and there is no sense of responsibility to the collective welfare, then the world in which we live is indeed great. But is it possible for any society to operate under such model, or is this a prescription for slow long-term decadence?Is it possible for such a society to be subordinating the creative mind into commercialized success or oblivion?

Is the human mind relegated to the realm of the corporate model - untapped human potential to generate more profits; to mindless depictions by the mass media and popular commercial entertainment with the only goal of greater profits; to the political realm where blatant lies and distortions are so packaged that they appear more truthful than any religious dogma? Has the desire for mere survival killed all sense of social conscience and buried creativity beneath the rubble of a decadent political economy shaping an atomistic culture and value system?

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