Friday on the Subway

I got up this morning feeling very joyful, it was Friday, casual day at work, so this is the day of the week I like to stand out by going in my business clothes. On the subway down to my office, I looked around the subway car and I noticed that the majority of the passengers all were dressed for casual day. My mind started going, thinking about how we conform ourselves to seemingly arbitrary standards that are set for us when joining a company, the further my thoughts took me, I realized that all of us follow the same rules, as if we lived in a Big Brother state.

Before reaching my subway stop, George Orwell’s book 1984 came to my mind and I was asking myself if are we heading there.

  • “In the book the character Winston Smith lives in London which is part of the country Oceania. Oceania is a totalitarian society led by Big Brother, who censors everybody’s behavior, even their thoughts. Winston is disgusted with his oppressed life and secretly longs to join the fabled Brotherhood, a supposed group of underground rebels intent on overthrowing the government.
  • Winston meets Julia and they secretly fall in love and have an affair, something which is considered a crime.  One day, while walking home, Winston encounters O’Brien, an inner party member, who gives Winston his address. Winston had exchanged glances with O’Brien before and had dreams about him giving him the impression that O’Brien was a member of the Brotherhood. Since Julia hated the party as much as Winston did, they went to O’Brien’s house together where they were introduced into the Brotherhood.
  • O’Brien is actually a faithful member of the Inner-Party and this is actually a trap for Winston, a trap that O’Brien has been cleverly setting for seven years. Winston and Julia are sent to the Ministry of Love, which is a sort of rehabilitation center for criminals accused of thought crime. There, Winston was separated from Julia, and tortured until his beliefs coincided with those of the Party. Winston denounces everything he believed him, even his love for Julia, and was released back into the public where he wastes his days at the Chestnut Tree drinking gin.”

We are controlled by rules, we need a license to drive a car, having a car we need to have an insurance and obey traffic rules, to travel we need a passport, we need an ID to get our money from the bank, whether we earn money or not, we need to file our taxes, it goes on and on. We are completely in the mercy of process and laws.  More and more, business sectors introduce processes and certify the individuals that are working in these sectors, project managers, accountants, real estate agents, insurance brokers, financial planners, the list is endless. So how did we get to this, one word –lawyers.

Behind almost all the industry associations there is a lawyer that has championed the cause of a profession and the creation of a process to certify individuals working in it. There are more lawyers today than there ever have been and we are a society at the mercy of lawyers that control our businesses, governments and our cities.

What will happen if we elect the wrong government and they decide to create new laws to control all the industry associations?

If that happens we are close to a totalitarian society and in my view, it seems we are heading in that direction. Currently what is going on is that we are creating a new class of professionals, who slot in between middle and the rich class. This class is all about process and control, a set way of doing things. I do not think we are exactly in the position Winston Smith in the book 1984, living in a society in which they cannot fall in love, but we have our taboos too, the biggest one being that we cannot be poor.