- Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man (p. 145)
The degree to which the civilizational mentality interjects itself in the most insidious manner between its citizens and liberation never ceases to amaze.
On an individual level, it holds the ability to alter the framing conditions of thought and narrows human imagination to within its deathly confines. Unfreedoms on a scale never before imagined become the new normality, and the very systems which oppress us become simultaneously the same institutions which keep us alive.
This was brought home to me recently on quitting a degrading, miserable, soul-less job in a mobile phone company call centre after just one eight-hour shift on the call floor. To think that any money, let alone the minimum wage, is sufficient remuneration for spending hours on end discussing the minutiae of an irate, exasperated person's iPhone contract boggles the mind.
One important learning outcome taken from the experience was a reinforcement of the fact that much, if not most, technology comes with a dark side that its users would much rather forget, or turn a blind eye to. Advanced cellular communications technology necessitates that someone work long hours for very little money, not just doing the dangerous work of mining and manufacturing the physical products - much of which doesn't even take place on this side of the world any more - but also dealing with the many instances when such technologies fail, or simply administering the complex IT systems involved etc. Someone in this technological world has to do the work but, the important point is, will it ever be you?
Communications technologies such as mobile phones apparently have their uses, and the mainstream media seems to take immense pleasure in pointing to the role they played in, for example, the Arab Spring uprisings. But this surely misleads more than it instructs. An holistic view of the the role of such technologies must acknowledge their facilitation of the mass destruction of the natural world, not to mention their vital place in continuing the move of human social reality into the virtual sphere. Perhaps, after being on the receiving end of such degradations, there really is a degree of hypocrisy
in anarcho-primitivists maintaining that sometimes the tools of modernity must be used to take apart the very modernity it eschews.
However, a second point of note, on leaving the job was the reaction of bemusement (combined with near-hostility) I got from one close friend, for not being able to do it for longer. Civilization is built on the centrality of toil as an almost patriotic act, and has been from the beginning. Advanced capitalist societies, though, display a sublime ability to build up expectations that you will subject yourself to unhappiness (the "prerequisite" from Marcuse's quote above), or face the wrath of society for being a "failure." And I am a failure by the standards of our culture. I can't hold down a lowly, call centre job. How perverse is this form of doublespeak when he or she who, for example, values their time too greatly to be corralled into a job he or she hates becomes the "failure"? If this is the definition then I'll gladly accept the label.
This mentality is drilled into us from a very early age, as Eisenstein has noted in The Ascent of Humanity:
"...We seek to instill good "study habits" and a strong work ethic in our children, a sense of responsibility lest they learn to put play, pleasure, and joy first. What kind of adult would they become then? Probably an undisciplined adult who cannot hold a nine-to-five job and has little patience with boring, demeaning, or unpleasant work - the kind of work most of the population accepts as a grim necessity. So school comes first, then homework, then piano practice, then little league soccer. Then, if there is any time left, they can play."
Is misery really necessary for people to be happy? Must I really slave in order to be free? For such is the ideology of civilization, of agriculture, the ideology of the treadmill. Invest in hardship now, and you'll be rewarded later. You reap what you sow. But is anyone really being rewarded? The non-human world certainly isn't. And with, for example, the news of ever-"soaring" use of anti-depressants  in the developed world I would argue that even those who are supposedly at the top of the pyramid of the status quo aren't being rewarded either.
It's time to get out of this lose-lose game, before it does what history shows that it always has - brings itself down, and takes all down with it.
 Note how the conclusion of that article isn't that people are, for a reason we should probably investigate, suffering mental anguish and hardship, but that depression and associated illnesses costs the economy "almost £11 billion a year in lost earnings".