Hello, Neo. Who are you? How many people understand the point of this scene? Really understand it? Relax! I’m not gonna make you watch the whole thing. Whether the Watchowskis intended it or not, this scene serves as a perfect critique of captialism. Wait, Rich, don’t you pitch your books
at the end of every video? Aren’t you participating in capitalism? Yes, because the alternative is starvation. A slave can obey his master to avoid
a whipping and still believe that slavery is wrong. Likewise, a man can sell the fruits of his labour
to survive and still believe that capitalism is wrong. The original Matrix frames its narrative around the conflict between authoritarianism and choice. The machines have imposed harsh living conditions on the humans. Morpheus and his group of subversives are fighting to restore humanity’s ability to choose its own destiny. To choose to leave the Matrix and live in the real world. Or to bend the Matrix to their will. The first film heavily implies that all humans can do what Neo does if they just believe hard enough. What sets Neo apart is not some fundamental aspect of his cyber DNA but his ability to understand that the Matrix is his personal playground. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone. And then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Anything is possible if you just believe it. It’s a pretty shallow narrative. Which explains why it was so popular at the turn of the millenium when there was a real hunger to believe that anything was possible if we just put our minds to it. The power of positive thinking and all that. People still cling to this narrative today. Last year, I had a guy trying to tell me that the only thing I had to do to become a NYT best selling author was to believe it would happen to me. Back in the day, when people asked me about the Matrix, I used to tell them, “Love the fight scenes, hate the story.” But then Reloaded came along. And don’t get me wrong; in many ways, Reloaded is a bloated mess of a film. But it offered what is quite honestly the best critique of the message presented in the original Matrix. As I was saying, she stumbled on a solution whereby Nearly 99% of all test subjects accepted the program as long as they were given a choice. Even if they were only aware of the choice at a near unconscious level. Did you catch that? The Architect is saying that the vast majority of people will go along with a corrupt and oppressive system as long as you let them choose it for themselves. But what about those humans who don’t choose to be compliant little batteries in the robot power plant? What about the ones who want out of the Matrix? Well, you let them choose that. And you apply systems of control to limit the damage they can do. Every few generations, you introduce a specific individual who carries a version of the Matrix source code. Thus explaining why he can manipulate the environment in ways no other human can. You build a mythology around this individual, encouraging the other humans to view him as a religious icon. Thus ensuring that the humans are participating in a rebellion that you have controlled from the outset. You give humans a choice. But you limit their options. That way you remain in control. This is what the Architect is telling Neo. And this happens in real life. This is what capitalism does. A few months ago, a friend of mine told me about a conversation he had with his step dad in which the step dad defended the existence of a gender pay gap by claiming that women do less work and therefore deserve less money. Excuse me for a moment. That’ll do it. I’m good now! The step dad’s argument went something like this: “Now, I’ve worked a lot of warehouse jobs, and many of them specifically state in the posting that the applicant must be able to lift 50 pounds. Women apply for these jobs and get these jobs. But they can’t lift 50 pounds. Now, shouldn’t they be paid a little less for not being able to meet the job requirements? My friend is blind and interested in joining the field of Social Work. So I asked him How would you feel if somebody told you that you should be paid less because the agency specified, in the job posting, that you must have your own car so you can visit families who don’t live on bus routes? Of course, he said, “I wouldn’t apply for that job.” Sounds pretty neat and tidy, right? If you apply for a job, knowing that you can’t meet one of the qualifications, then the company is justified in paying you less because you didn’t have to apply for that job. It was your choice. But let’s look at how this plays out in the real world. A likely scenario looks like this: My friend gets his diploma and eagerly heads off to join the work force. He starts perusing job sites, looking for work in his field. After a week of searching, he finds 23 postings. 21 of which specify that he must have his own car. What should he do now? He drastically lowers his odds of finding a job if he only applies for 2 out of 23 positions. All of his friends and family tell him to apply for as many jobs as possible. So he takes that advice. And he applies to every job he sees, knowing that most list at least one qualification he can’t meet. Several weeks go by in which he applies for every job without a single call back. Just when he’s starting to lose hope, the phone rings. It’s the head recruiter at a social work agency. They’re interested in meeting him for an interview. But here’s the catch. It’s one of the postings that specified the requirement of a car Should my friend be paid less because he can’t meet that requirement? Doesn’t the logic of choice go both ways? After all, if the agency hires him, they do so knowing that he can’t drive. At what point did my friend specifically choose a job that required a car over one that did not? For him, there was no option to take a job that did not require a car. It was this or unemployment. And it’s not like our society is particularly kind to people who choose unemployment. If you’re going to suggest that scenarios like this don’t play out in real life, I can assure you that they do. It may not be the same thing every time, but I would say about 90% of the jobs I’ve applied for have listed at least one qualification that I can’t meet. A young woman in the United States works for a company that does not provide health insurance. Yes, they exist She goes searching for a suitable health care plan. But her meager salary of $25 000 a year coupled with the higher cost of housing in her city means that she can only afford premiums of about $200 a month. The only insurance agency offering plans at that rate is well known for its conservative stance on reproductive care. What’s more, the only doctors in their network refuse to prescribe methods of birth control like the IUD. What does this woman do? It’s easy to look at her and say “You didn’t have to choose that health insurance plan.” In fact, this is where the free market advocates would say something stupid “Well, you just can’t afford to have sex.” “Go get yourself a better job.” This, of course, ignores the fact that wages are going down throughout the entire economy. Ahem…Please note that when Rich says that wages are going down, what he really means is that wages are not keeping pace with inflation. And therefore the spending power of the average citizen has diminished. If this woman were living in a country with public healthcare, she could choose her own doctor with no restrictions If one doctor refused to prescribe the birth control she wanted, for whatever reason, she could simply go to another. No questions asked. It should be noted that market forces are often used in this way, as a form of social control. Want to keep women economically dependent on men? Don’t make birth control illegal. Just make it extremely hard to get. Don’t stifle her ability to choose. Just limit her options. One of the arguments in favour of markets is that they’re supposed to provide for individual choice. So, they’re kind of democratic. It’s quite the opposite. Markets radically restrict choice in a very important way. So take…Let’s be concrete. I have to get home tonight. The market does offer me a choice between a Toyota and a Chevrolet. It does *not* offer me a choice between a car and a subway. We see it again and again How many of you have heard this? “Don’t post your political opinions online.” “Potential employers might see them.” Maybe you think that’s perfectly fair. Maybe you don’t. But it is happening. Employers have fired people for political reasons. Let’s take a look at this article from the New York Times. In 2004, Lynne Gobbell was fired from her job for putting a John Kerry bumper sticker on her car. She later went on to work for the Kerry campaign. So…Good for her, I guess. In 2011, Megan Gellar, a waitress at the Outback Steakhouse, was sacked for wearing a bracelet that expressed her support for the Tea Party. Don’t let it be said that this doesn’t happen to right-wingers. And there have been numerous cases of bosses insinuating that their employees will be fired if they vote for the wrong candidate. Let’s look at this article from 2012. David Siegel, the owner of Westgate Resorts, sent a surprising e-mail to his employees. It said that if President Obama wins reelection and raises Siegel’s taxes, he will have to lay off workers and downsize his company. Note, to make this flagrant abuse of power slightly more palatable, Rich will read Siegel’s company-wide e-mail in a sexy New Orleans accent. Again, this is where the Free Market apologists would insist that if you don’t want a boss who tells you how to vote, just get another job. As if it’s really that simple. In 2017, it took unemployed Canadians an average of 19 weeks to find a job. Over 85 000 people were unemployed for 52 consecutive weeks. Did I mention that 40% of Canadians have only one month’s worth of savings? Quitting an awful job to find a better one really isn’t an option for most people. But hey! You could always search for a job while you’re still employed! Assuming you can find the time. And assuming you trust them not to fire you. While we’re on the subject, you might want to be careful. Because pissing off your boss can get you put on an HR black list. Which will be shared with everyone in your industry! I was probably on four or five of these BEFORE I started speaking out against capitalism. Are you starting to get a sense of just how powerful employers are? A corporation is a private tyranny. A corporation, if you look at its structure, is about as close to the totalitarian model as anything that human beings have created. Control is completely from top down. When you make people’s livelihood, their ability access basic necessities, dependent on employment, you create a pretty strong incentive to not speak out aga inst abuses of power. That’s how we ended up with a system where people are working longer hours for less pay in the service of companies that will trash this planet. 99% of all test subjects will accept the program as long as they’re given a choice. Oppress people, try to control them with brute force, and they will rebel. But if you give them a choice, many will accept oppression. Even if they’re not aware of what they’re doing. Give people a choice between limited options, all of which just happen to serve your interests, and they will accept it, thinking it was their idea. This is how capitalism works. 31 flavours of ice cream but only two political parties. When it’s something trivial, you’ll have so many options you might not be able to choose. Third: escalation of expectations. This hit me when I went to replace my jeans. I wear jeans almost all the time. And there was a time when jeans came in only one flavour, and you bought them And they fit like crap. And they were incredibly uncomfortable. And if you wore them long enough, and washed them enough times, they started to feel okay. So, I went to replace my jeans after years of wearing these old ones, and I said, “I want a pair of jeans. Here’s my size.” The shopkeeper said, “Do you want slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit? Do you want button fly or zipper fly? Do you want stone washed or acid washed? Do you want them distressed? My jaw dropped, and after I recovered, I said, “I want the kind that used to be the only kind.” But when it’s something important like where you live, where you work, or how your medical bills get paid, you’ll find that you have very little choice at all. My choices are my own And yet, how ironic… for I now find I have no choice at all. We need a system that gives people options. And to do that, we need to make sure that all people’s basic needs are met as a guaranteed human right. Hey, hey, it’s Rich This is the part where I ask you to like, subscribe and click the bell of this channel. And if you like science fiction, then you need to read the Justice Keepers Saga. Head over to Amazon.com where you can pick up the first book for just $3.99 That’s all for today! Bye!