Opting out: the freeing philosophy of avoidance and refusal

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/04/14/opting-out-the-freeing-philosophy-of-avoidance-and-refusal.html


I despise that word; it’s dehumanizing… it implies that the people who are the driving force in a capitalist society are little better than maggots feasting on a carcass.

It seems like it started seeing widespread use about the same time that ‘personnel’ became popular to refer to workers. I think Holy St. Reagan was POTUS back then, so it’s his fault.
ETA: And don’t get me started on ‘Human Resources’…

Whenever I see that word, I mentally replace it with the word customer.
Because, that’s what we are.
We are the lifeblood of this economy… those businesses don’t exist without us.

And while I’m peevin’ over here, I might as well point out that you can’t ‘consume the news’… a phrase that is heard/seen from time to time, & it grinds my gears.
To consume something implies that it is gone after being consumed.

You can read the news, or listen to it, or watch it. And guess what? It’s still there!
Now, get off my lawn…

How to topple capitalism in three easy steps.
Sounds like a plan.


… contemporary news about “the homeless” should suffice to illustrate how being excluded from the system harms those excluded much more than it harms the system

If “you” are a prisoner, obviously you are given literally no choice about what “role” you play

and if you’re a “businessperson” or a “consumer” and you fail to do business and consume, then you’re simply not in that group anymore :confused:


I’m doing without, right now!

(May the spirit of @Papasan live on forever. I hope he’s doing well without, too.)


Even worse when it’s used as a synonym for “citizen” (a role that too many people already avoid or refuse).


How do you feel about “human resources”? That’s the one that gets to me.



It’s gotten even worse in recent years; I often hear management saying “we don’t have enough resource to do that”, when they really mean “we don’t have enough people.”
And the singular “resource” is not a typo, further dehumising people by lumping them all into some amorphous blob of “resource.”


Do the management style guides dictate that the resource is measured in person-hours, or in FTE?


Exactly. As with many things in late-stage capitalist society, the very act of opting out of its demands for excess requires some high degree of privilege. For example, in order to live comfortably without owning a car one will likely have the means to pay the sky-high housing prices of living in a 15-minute city.

I’m also reminded of Elon Musk claiming he’s a “homeless” couch surfer, or Boing Boing featured grifter James Altucher claiming anyone can live out of a single suitcase like him. That kind of asceticism is always easier when backed by the Amex platinum card one has in one’s minimalist wallet.

This Pratchett quote related to the famous “Vimes Boots Theory” also applies:

The very very rich could afford to be poor. Sybil Ramkin lived in the kind of poverty that was only available to the very rich, a poverty approached from the other side. Women who were merely well-off saved up and bought dresses made of silk edged with lace and pearls, but Lady Ramkin was so rich she could afford to stomp around the place in rubber boots and a tweed skirt that had belonged to her mother. She was so rich she could afford to live on biscuits and cheese sandwiches.


One term I have heard floating around is ‘trustafarian’, applying to the kids who bum around various locations pretending to be outside the system and beholden to no one while they “search for themselves.” Meanwhile, they have access to the resources of their very rich families in case of need.


This discussion kinda reminds me of George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who makes it his mission in life to avoid committments and gives motivational talks on how to do so. So when his sister needs his help to keep a groom from getting cold feet, hilarity ensues.

Anyway, I wouldn’t neccesarily look at that character as an example to follow.


Did you really just compare HR to the fucking holocaust… REALLY? What the fuck man… most people are just trying to do their god damn jobs, not commit genocide. Maybe tone that shit back just a smidge?


Except the Nazis did not think of those people as humans at all, resources or otherwise? And did much worse to them than make them work longer hours for lower pay? Like it was kind of a whole thing, I’m surprised you haven’t heard about it. :frowning:



Did you miss that part?
As a Historian, you should be familiar with the use of language to dehumanize and other who The Powers That Be consider to be the foe of the day.

The tactic is Death By A Thousand Cuts.
It is insidious. And slow…
So much so, that people don’t even notice it.
And it reduces PEOPLE to replaceable cogs in a machine.

And it is the sort of thing that leads to Holocausts… and Genocides… and other acts that show that humans can be the least humane of all.

But you know this already.

WTF, indeed.
So much communication is lost when people are confined to keyboards. Emoticons are imperfect solutions to convey concepts that are obvious in face-to-face interactions.

I agree with that.
In all my years of working, and in all the various jobs I have had, I can safely say that I never once had to commit genocide. :crazy_face:

Tone WHAT down??
The path some people want to take us on will lead to that conclusion.

Contrary to what you might think @Mindysan33, I like you and respect you; I have learned from you. And I can’t think of any of your opinions over the years that I disagree with.

I have the impression that we talk past each other, though.

Oh, they were certainly used as resources. Work is a resource, and they were worked to death.
Replaceable cogs in a machine…
See above.

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They didn’t think of them as human was my obvious point. I don’t love capitalism either, but Nazism did not come from disregard for the worker classes, it grew out of white supremacy and xenophobia. So I think that comparison is superficial to the point of trivializing atrocities. There are currently several genocides going on, the GOP is campaigning on more, and somehow none have to do with this.


Perhaps you should use a fictional example, like Orwell’s “freedom is slavery” to make that point, rather than the all too real “arbeit macht frei,” which gave false hope to literally millions of people as they were led to their deaths.


again, you seem to be comparing a modern job to nazis. Don’t do that. That is dehumanizing, in fact. :woman_shrugging:



Or just point out that HR is guard labour for corporations. Their stated duties could be handled by other offices and by managers, reducing overhead. However, their true function requires that they have a dedicated department.

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