Chapter from the book, The Future is Up to Us, by Nelson Peery :
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The foundation of happiness is contentment and its foundation is the elimination of strife. It is a negative thing. It flows from a negative thing. Contentment grows when you are no longer troubled. Our troubles arise from material scarcity.When we do away with that, we can begin to build the positive thing, happiness. Happiness is an emotion that arises with contribution.
This contribution can be in the form of raising a child, of painting a picture, of building an organization or a neighborhood. Happiness is a social thing. The idea is to have as full a life as humanly possible. This demands, first, that we struggle to create the conditions for a full life while we are here. Second, we have to look at death as part of life, not as the end. Life goes on. I don’t want to go like the ancient myth of the Eskimos. After the grandchildren are weaned and they have their teeth, and grandma has taught the daughters how to raise babies, she goes out and sits on the hillside and the bear eats her up, knowing that they’ll eat the bear and life goes on. I am saying that for now we cannot stop the cycle of youth, maturity, old age and decline and finally the ceasing of the functioning of their human resources. In that sense death is going to continue. But there isn’t real death.Oh yes, we can look at it individually,“Oh my God I’m dying that’s the end of it, that’s the end the world.When I die the world ends.”We can just as easily have a different ideology, an ideology that sees birth and rebirth as a constant, continual thing. “I come here, I serve my time, I enjoy my life, I procreate, I do all that is human.When I get ready to lay down and die I do so, at least with contentment.”
Marx said that the end of class society was going to be the beginning of human history.Thus, in the death of class society there is a real birth. Up to this point all we’ve really been is animals. Reacting to scarcity, struggling to get food, struggling to get clothing, struggling to get a house, struggling to get an education, struggling for all these things. If these necessaries are in abundance then we can turn to the real matters of life, the intellectual, cultural and interactive well being. So for the first time we will truly create our own history. We create our history now, but under defined circumstances that limit our choices. In other words we are not liberating ourselves.We’ve created our own history but it’s been a limited history.What we’ve created has been limited by the circumstances wherein we carry out our struggles. For example, the struggle against slavery couldn’t really end slavery, it could only transform slavery.We’re talking about an end to the struggle over allocation of scarcity.We’re talking about no longer having to struggle about getting a house.They will be stamped out by a robot at a factory.We will no longer worry about getting food, no longer worry about getting an education.Then, we can go ahead and create.
Some people say this heaven sounds a little dull. But if things were dull in heaven, so many people wouldn’t spend so much time and effort trying to get there.We are still going to be boogying and falling in love and raising our babies.We are going to do all the things that make us happy. Raising that kid, seeing her graduate from college, being assured of her well being.These are things that made us happy.What’s going to be dull about it? The only dull thing that we’ll get rid of is groping along for a living. Piling those bricks two on one, one on two.That’s the dull part of my life. Dancing and reading books has never been dull to me.
The history of all hitherto existing societies has been the history of class struggle.Now, when class struggle is over and when real human history begins, what does history mean? Up to this point I think history has meant the development of the means of production and societies reorganizing on that basis. In that sense of the word, it’s only been a mass record, it’s been a mass record of action and reaction.What we are talking about now is the ability of human beings to grab hold of themselves and their destiny and create a history of accomplishments, rather than this action and reaction. Accomplishments will be things that we choose to do, not that which we have to do, but which we choose to do.
When we set about reconstructing the earth, for example, reclaiming the earth, becoming part of the earth, again, I think that will be a real accomplishment.The first task of communism is to rebuild the earth, to clean it up, understand its rhythm, and become part of that rhythm.The first part of it is to stabilize the earth, and consequently stabilize humanity. Happiness will arise in that process. What would you do with yourself if you no longer had to worry about your food, shelter, and clothing? I know what I’d do.