A clothes dryer for Mr Dula

Mathias Maurer

They are: 1) the belief of never-ending growth; 2) the belief in the “invisible hand”; 3) the belief in meaningfulness. 

Regarding 1): Nothing that is alive grows without end. At some point growth stops and then it passes away. Children grow and develop – their parents and teachers “invest” in them out of love for the child whose future is, however, unpredictable. Thus education cannot be quantified, only the qualities associated with it remain. Yet the knowledge and education industries keep creating new needs in order ultimately to transform them into consumption. Waldorf schools do, however, actually believe in eternal growth, not in an economic or material sense but as the continuing soul and spiritual capacity to develop of each individual human being. 

Regarding 2): What is it that is supposed to be invisible in the conditions created by humans? It is a postulate that negates our ability to shape our social life and the necessary assumption of responsibility for humanity, our planet, indeed for the cosmos as a whole. The egoism which it is suggested is the driver of all economic activity cannot pass as a religious or divine motif. If it were, then a level of blind allegiance and negation of facts would have to be assumed that eclipses all historical examples: the US finance company BlackRock is the “visible hand” which could easily run rings around any national budget: it does not redistribute but concentrates capital in the hands of the few.  Waldorf schools take children irrespective of income. 

Regarding 3): That every person should have a tolerable income will probably be accepted by most people. Only in distress do human beings fall back on simply trying to stay alive. But does that still make sense today? Paradoxically it is only what does not correspond to such egotistical self-preservation that gives meaning. Who would be unaware of the story of the rich unhappy man? Money might make life more comfortable but the happiness built on it is an illusion. 

Let me tell a story in this respect: I wanted to sell an almost new clothes dryer for 100 euros on a well-known online market place. Mr Dula came: “I’ll give you 30 euros.” I said: “No, at least 50 euros.” Mr Dula would not budge. I said: “50 euros is giving it away.” Mr Dula offered 40 euros. Then I said after further haggling: “I’ll give it to you.” Mr Dula looked at me incredulously, then laughed: “OK, 50 euros.” He had somehow understood that every negotiated price can express recognition of a social relationship and attribute appropriate appreciation of people and things. In doing so, the three beliefs were unobtrusively but very satisfactorily suspended for buyer and seller.