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From Livelihoods to Deadlihoods


From Livelihoods to Deadlihoods

Ashish Kothari

In India, economic development and modernity have transformed livelihoods into deadlihoods. They are wiping out millennia-old livelihoods that were ways of life with no sharp division between work and leisure, and replacing them with dreary assembly line jobs where we wait desperately for weekends and holidays.

Economic progress, we are told, is about moving from primary sector jobs to manufacturing and services. And so the livelihoods that keep all of us alive – farming, forestry, pastoralism, fisheries, and related crafts – are considered backward.


In order for the consumer culture to thrive, there had to be distancing from nature. Nature gives so much freely. What ideology therefore could justify putting a price on so much... even water!

I happen to think there's a more sinister design to having people look at manual labors as "less than." I have relatives in Puerto Rico and a deep love of the island. I also realize that a good percentage of its economy comes from tourism and retail.

There was a time when there was much more farming, but so-called modernity has conditioned people to leave the land and therefore depend upon store-bought food. And as many who read C.D. recognize, much in the way of store bought food is controlled by a handful of powerful corporations. In fact, they refer to themselves as "industrial food!" of all oxymorons.

Losing manual skills--like how to weld, preserve food, grow vegetables, catch fish, repair clothing and shoes and so much else is part of a net loss to human beings in the way of basic independence. With so many lacking basic survival skills, most people are at the mercy of the Market-Masters.

And just as the Hedge Funds barons get first dibs on goods, services, salaries, and savings... these crony capitalists may well be using their Shock Doctrine philosophy to place much of humanity in such a corner (when it comes to basic survival items--like food which will become harder to come by as unnatural floods, heat waves, and droughts wipe out major crops) that they'll be able to ask any price. That's why so many are trying to maneuver their purchased politicians into passing laws that will privatize WATER!

India is a patriarchal society, and all patriarchal societies tend to view the Earth Mother/Mother Nature as something to be used, conquered, dominated, abused, or exploited. That's also the prevailing global attitude towards women and all things feminine.

Until THIS factor of the spiritual equation is understood and corrected, people may be able to find jobs that are more about leisure than drone-labor; but it won't change the fundamental calculus that has robbed the people of their incomes, in many areas, their home equity, their spirits, their freedom, and lately... their sense of hope. Currently, the very question of sentient beings' survival is also on the line: hence the urgent need to Balance The Equation!

A different relationship with Nature and the Feminine Side of The (Divine) Force is long overdue. I believe it's part of the reformation that has been prophesied in (and through) a variety of prisms ranging from Christianity's "End Times," to astrology's "Age phase transition," to meteorologists' understanding of major, radical climate change, to Hopi Indians seeing the rise of a 6th World, etc.


When I was a kid, we were being told quite freequently about the coming "leisuire age" when all would be done by machines and we would not need to toil for more than 17 hours a week and would still get paid a decent wage..

Ho hum. A pig flew by the other day, pursued by a hen with teeth.


there was a time, not so long ago, when the woman who ran the complicated establishment known as a home was respected and able to feel validated in the work. Not suggesting kinder, kuchen und kirke here, but a satisfying blend of tasks and activities that left one feeling they'd done something good. (I am bracing for the expected blast of criticism from those who misinterpret this as some sort of anti-feminist sentiment)


Will someone please get this man some more shiny gadgets and junk food. He clearly has no idea how we roll here in the 'developed' world.


This is SUCH an excellent article! And the paucity of comments on it says much, IMO - about where we seem to have our heads stuck ...

The theme of this piece is equally, if not more, relevant with regard to our own country - the disdain for physical labor, and condescension exhibited toward those engaged in it, the elevation of the concepts of "efficiency" and "productivity" elevated to the status of "cardinal" virtues in the religion of "business" whose houses we worship in - without ever seriously examining precisely what it is we are being "efficient" in "producing" ....

"Let’s assume that this is inevitable and desirable."

That is precisely the problem - too many have been convinced for too long that our situation is "inevitable" and a sign of "progress" which, "of course", in some grand scheme is "desirable" even if we don't quite get it - and so having resigned ourselves to it we set about "adapting" to it even when that requires more and more drugs and booze, or as the guy says, "shopping"; we have given up being agents of change in society and instead decided we need to change ourselves even when the required changes wreak havoc with our psyches and "inevitably" with our bodies - that's the irony, the only "inevitable" thing about this situation is the degradation of body and soul that comes from "accepting" the "inevitability" of the dysfunctional society we have mislabeled as "progressive" ...

And this is true not only of our economy but of our politics - i see it here and elsewhere all the time ....

There is so much more that can, and should, be said ...