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The Salesman.

The Magician

I have sometimes heard it questioned; "What useful function does a salesman provide to society?" And the question is almost invariably posed somewhat cynically, with the implication that the salesman provides nothing useful.

"Aside from trying to con you into buying something you don't want and don't need, at a price you can't afford, they try to steer you from what you want, in favor of what they have to offer". "They take up both your time and your money" is the assertion often made when referring to the classic negative stereotype of the salesman.

Although such creatures undoubtedly exist, there are many salesmen who attempt, and succeed, in providing a genuine service to their customers, supplying information both technical and comparative regarding the products they sell, painting a background of knowledge that is helpful in the decision making process.

And so the matter might be argued back and forth endlessly.

But, there are some basic fundamental principles in the employment of virtually all working class individuals that tend to render the entire subject rather mute. Firstly it is evident that like any other workers, salespeople are just ordinary folk doing their best, to pay the mortgage, help support the spouse and feed and cloth hungry children. Secondly it is a fundamental mistake to assume that the purpose of the salesman is to serve the customer. It is in fact no more the purpose of salespeople to serve the customer than it is the purpose of a bricklayer to build houses, or a mechanic to repair automobile engines. Of course these trades and professions do indeed engage in such activities and usually with great pride, but it is important to understand, if we wish to have an accurate conception of the world, that such activity is of a secondary nature springing from strategic necessity.

The primary purpose for which anyone is employed is to make money for the boss, the significant shareholder, that is to say, the person who already has such an excess of wealth that they can buy and sell the time and energy (both creative and physical) of others. The true purpose of employment then (at least in a capitalist's view) is to increase the disparity in wealth between the rich and the poor.

And so the baker is engaged in his trade, not to feed the hungry or even to make wages, but rather to make the rich even wealthier, even if it is at the cost, ironically, of making the poor hungrier.

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It is a common mistake to think that the purpose of employment is to make wages, but rather the necessity to make a wage is the tool of enslavement. If wages were fair then there would in fact be no profit left over by which the wealthy soak up the life energy of the working class for their own purposes, grasping control of the masses and gaining power both financial and political.

If what we truly desire, in the society of humanity, is equality of opportunity, if we want to live in a society that values the contributions of all with a sense of fairness, and respect for the human needs of all. If we wish to abolish this current system, of which its chief boast is that it is based entirely on greed, and replace it with a system that can effectively abolish poverty, a system based on the democratic egalitarian spirit of humankind. Then it must be abundantly clear that we have no interests in common with those who are currently at the helm, those who having wrestled control of factory and state, and who would, if it is deemed to be in their interest, drive us into war and pillage for their own gain, like common thieves who might drive a stolen car into a storefront to increase their wealth of booty.

If there is any truth to this picture, and I believe there is, then the accusation leveled at the salesman is truly a more fitting metaphor for those who sponsor, promote and administrate the current system.

"Aside from trying to con you into buying something you don't want and don't need, at a price you can't afford, they try to steer you from what you want, in favor of what they have to offer". "They take up both your time and your money."

In fact perhaps it is less a metaphor and more a literal reality.

And so, rather than engaging in a pissing contest, praising some types of working class employees, and criticizing others, we can make better use of what little time is left over from our long days of wage slavery by pushing aside the smoke and mirrors of government and corporate deception and taking on the task of organizing ourselves and educating ourselves about what is really going on in this world. Perhaps then, we will see through the cobwebs of deception that keep us fighting amongst ourselves and recognize the idiocy of irrelevant appellations of status, burdened upon us by the employing class, appellation like "permanent", "temporary", "probationary" and "illegal", all designed to classify us into various tiers with the intention of creating a sense of division and disrupting worker solidarity.

In Solidarity,
John Barker

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April 2005