When I left real estate in 2000, I got into reading a whole bunch of books. I was exhausted, burned out from doing something I didn’t like for too long.
The one that had the biggest effect on my life was a biography of Cecil Rhodes aka Mr Rhodesia. He landed in Africa when he was 16 and by the time of his death at 48, he had brought 1/3 of Africa under British control. Here’s a little quote from his will via Wikipedia:
“To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and of colonisation by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour and enterprise”
What he and others did was prospect for gold and diamonds. To do that they needed labour. But the black Africans had little interest in digging in a deep hole all day long for shiny rocks. They had a nice life lolling about their huts, tending a few cattle, hunting when needed and basically having the whole day to themselves to do what they want.
So what they did was impose a hut tax on the locals. You had to pay 1 shilling a month to the British or they’d come and burn your hut down, take your land. And of course the only way to get your shilling was to go to work for the British digging for shiny rocks.
But even this proved too unreliable and too much hassle, so they actually just imprisoned them all! Yep they worked during the day and were locked up in barracks at night. Basically forced labour camps. This is how westernised civilisation was built!
And so it hit me like a bolt out of the blue: You cannot live in a westernised country without earning money! Why? Because all the land is owned, there’s nowhere you can live without incurring cost. Either you’re renting or owning, and in either case there are costs. So you have to work. You have to work to pay the rent/mortgage and other bills.
And so you cannot rest. And being as exhausted as I was, that was really what I wanted to do. Just sit under a tree all day and look at the ocean or whatever. Just rest. Rest rest rest is what I craved. I had been so busy for so long that I just wanted to leave it all behind. Not an uncommon refrain today. So many books/movies/tv programs on escaping the city/rat race for the country idyll. (Mostly they get it all wrong by mortgaging themselves to the hilt to build a huge great thing full of the flashest things imaginable – so that they can escape…)
I had never questioned this before, the fact that you have to earn money just to be able to rest. To be able to lie down somewhere without someone coming along and saying “Oi you move along, this is my property!” I had just taken it for granted. Bought into the whole dream of earn, buy, have. Not ‘be’.
This is one of the reasons why Britain et al took over the world. Every single one of their citizens is working and competing. Which builds an economy which can be taxed and used to fund an army/navy which can then go and ‘extend’ the Empire. And of course other countries have followed suit (notably China in recent years) and so now the whole world has bought into the idea of money money money, growth, growth, growth.
So then comes the question “Well if I have to earn money, to live in this society, how will I do so?” And I didn’t have an answer really. I tried doing some contract software again, but found being cloistered up in rooms with no windows with very little social interaction quite depressing, even if the work content could be quite interesting at times.
And then I started putting the money into buildings. Buying old commercial buildings and doing them up. Which is what I’m still doing today. Mostly just to have money so that I don’t have to run around like a chicken with it’s head chopped off.
I vividly remember, as a child, seeing ants on concrete on a hot sunny day. They’d run around and around outside their burrow in a crack in the pavement and if I followed any one individual ant, it was clear they were just running around in some convoluted pattern, going nowhere. And as an adult I think we do this a lot. We’re constantly running, achieving, earning. The treadmill that is modern day life.
Materialism, the desire for status and things. It’s the new religion.