The clock ticks monotonously as the silent buzz of your office space whirl forth. Surrounding your insanity is the churn of shredders, the buzz of printers, the click of keyboards, the sips of coffee, the march of a horde of business casual zombies. You place your head in your heads and face your desk. What a nightmare this must be to you. A prisoner of your own cubicle, you must be reflecting on the decisions in life that brought you here. Surely, you had bigger dreams than this.
In high school and college, you dreamed of changing the world for the better. You probably participated in some event that you thought would make the world a better place, or at least a better place for you personally. You played some sport or were engaged in some club that made you feel like a star. Perhaps you were more introvertedly involved: reading and engaging in private artistic pursuits. Regardless of what you were actually involved in, they all share one common trait: they gave you some sense of purpose.
That sense of purpose is the real thing that you are missing in life. While you may miss shooting hoops or having the time to read specifically, what you really miss, in a general, philosophical sense, is having things that give you purpose.
Marx described this dilemma way back in the Communist Manifesto. As the world transitioned from self-reliance to specialization with the industrial revolution, we gained efficiency and lost purpose. This lead to what Marx described as a crisis for the laborer. When the laborer goes from making a chair to then only putting the legs on a chair, they begin to lose their confidence that they can actually produce the chair themselves. Suddenly, the task seems futile and their purpose is lost.
We face the same crisis today. In the world of capitalism, we have pushed for more specialization and more efficiency without taking the time to find our purpose. There is no wonder why the capitalist nations are simultaneously the wealthiest and most depressed: we are so efficient but at the cost of our purpose.
Marx was wrong about many things, but this crisis of purpose is one of the areas that he hit right on the head. Our economies are once again transitioning to a time when most of our work will soon be replaced by machines. In this nexus point, we face an even more daunting crisis for laborers.
To save ourselves, and capitalism, we must all find our purpose.