Barry Seidman marks Labor Day with a discussion of the rhetoric and effects of the so-called Protestant Work Ethic, which has allowed a separation of work from “jobs” in the American mindset. If as humanists we value “the good life,” along with creativity, freedom and the interest in each of us becoming the best we can be, why do so many of us ignore or even encourage a socioeconomic system which deprives so many of us of these things?

Work in the normative sense is about the natural human proclivity to be productive, contributing members of society via creative, liberating and satisfying efforts. Such work is about freely associated labor, equal opportunity, the ability of each member of society to find and perform whatever kind of work he or she enjoys and can excel at, and work performed without relying on command authority or any other form of coercion.

Work as “jobs” (that is, work as we know it today under capitalism), is quite something else. We worship work (jobs) in today’s culture, identifying those who can’t work or find it difficult to find satisfying, joyful work, as lazy, deviant or “too picky”. When people can’t succeed in our work-money centered society, we blame them rather than the system they’ve found themselves in. We even go as far as to argue that those who don’t well adjust to the system are therefore mentally or emotionally challenged somehow!

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Sunsara Taylor will speak with Douglas Blackmon about “the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude … and those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking,” as she uncovers the material basis which allowed such to occur (as opposed to some sense of divine working out of things or natural inferiority), and how the psychological burden of not having material explanations for this persisting inequality has had consequences right up to today.

A passage from “Slavery by any other Name“:

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Distracted: The Erosion of Attention an the Coming Dark Age w/Maggie Jackson

From the Publisher:

We have oceans of information at our fingertips, yet we seek knowledge in Yahoo headlines glimpsed on the run. We are networked as never before, but we connect with friends and family via email and fleeting face-to-face moments that are rescheduled a dozen times. Distracted is a gripping exposé of this hyper-mobile, cyber-centric, attention-deficient life. Day by day, we are eroding our capacity for deep attention— the building block of intimacy, wisdom and cultural progress. The implications for a healthy society are stark.

And yet we can recover our powers of focus through a renaissance of attention. Neuroscience is just now decoding the workings of attention, with its three pillars of focus, awareness and judgment, and revealing how these skills can be shaped and taught. This is exciting news for all of us living in an age of overload. In her sweeping quest to unravel the nature of attention and detail its losses, Maggie Jackson introduces us to scientists, cartographers, marketers, educators, wired teens, and even roboticists. She offers us a compelling wake-up call, an adventure story, and reasons for hope.

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A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part Two

For more than 30 years now, the United States has taken a turn to the Right in how we organize our society. Prison populations have skyrocketed, prison sentences and anti-crime laws have become more and more draconian, torture has been used at home and abroad in the name of security, and the state has tightened its noose around those of us not in the upper classes… especially non-whites and the poor. Why has this occurred? What role has the rise in political Christianity played in the push for far right policies? Are there underlying reasons for this sad state of affairs beyond religion and the conservative politics of the Reagan/Bush era that are not even being talked about? And what can we do to make America more democratic, egalitarian and humanistic?

These are the questions we asked of journalists’ Sasha Abramsky, author of American Furies: Crime, Punishment and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment and Kristian Williams, author of American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination and Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.

A Victory for Vengeance?: America’s Methods of Domination; Part One

For more than 30 years now, the United States has taken a turn to the Right in how we organize our society. Prison populations have skyrocketed, prison sentences and anti-crime laws have become more and more draconian, torture has been used at home and abroad in the name of security, and the state has tightened its noose around those of us not in the upper classes… especially non-whites and the poor. Why has this occurred? What role has the rise in political Christianity played in the push for far right policies? Are there underlying reasons for this sad state of affairs beyond religion and the conservative politics of the Reagan/Bush era that are not even being talked about? And what can we do to make America more democratic, egalitarian and humanistic?

These are the questions we asked of journalists’ Sasha Abramsky, author of American Furies: Crime, Punishment and Vengeance in the Age of Mass Imprisonment and Kristian Williams, author of American Methods: Torture and the Logic of Domination and Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America.