The Deadliest Disease

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philosophy / reading / tech

I know hardly anything about Galahad except that everybody dislikes him.”
“Dislikes him?”
“They complain about him being inhuman.”
Lancelot considered his cup.
“He is inhuman,” he said at last. “But why should he be human? Are angels supposed to be human?”

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

History of Aging

It’s interesting to look at the societal shift in how we view our elders: a story that harkens back to the siutation in antiquity between Athens and Sparta. In Homer’s time, Athens famously prided itself on favoring the young over the old – the Council of Elders was a mere mirage of power while the young reigned over everything. In Sparta, the elderly Gerusia, 28 members over the age of 60, controlled affairs through a top-down approach. The Englightenment returned to the time of Athens by rejecting ugliness, traditional wisdom, and anything to do with old age. The printing press and the freedom to read books were the killing blows to the power of elders over their societies. Why listen to a church elder when there were hundreds of books at your disposal?

Fast forward to a century ago. Telling a Londoner that they could feasibly expect to live to the age of 80; or that they could have kids without fear of mortality; or that they and their family could be incoculated against smallpox and measles would have justifiably thrown you into the asylum.

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The Modern Proletariat

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philosophy / tech

“In truth, [the proletariat] were not human beings; they were merely toiling machines in the service of the few aristocrats who had guided history down to that time. 

The industrial revolution has simply carried this out to its logical end by making the workers machines pure and simple, taking from them the last trace of independent activity, and so forcing them to think and demand a position worthy of men.”

Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England

To the innocent and often untrained eye, the bay area is a living utopia. One thinks it’s a treasure trove of bright people that aspire to build a brave new world. Like a Randian novel,  they can frolic amongst the chosen coders and get untold riches from building great companies. On closer inspection this is a clever deception – designed to deceive the worker. If anything, the tech worker is susceptible to many of the concerns that Engels vehemently fought against. As Marx implies: any freedom we feel is merely an illusion – the wool is collectively draped over our eyes. Nowhere does this apply more than the software engineer in Silicon Valley. 

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