FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

This Is Not a New Year

by ELLIOT SPERBER

While in some respects the end of the month of December marks the conclusion of a year and the beginning of a new year (the 2014th year anno domini – the “year of our lord”), in a far more important sense what is being celebrated is not a new year at all. It is, in fact, an actually ancient year – or, if you prefer, an ancient type of year (a calendar comprised of Sumerian – or biblical – seven-day weeks, and twelve ancient Roman months, among other cultural distinctions).

At this point one might remark that I am conflating the year with the calendar; but, in this context, is there really any meaningful distinction between the two? To be sure, whenever one celebrates the beginning of a year, one is celebrating a specific (formal or informal) calendar. Otherwise, every day (every hour!) would be the beginning of a new year. This leads us to another question: what kind of calendar – what kind of distribution of time, and organization of life – are we, in fact, celebrating?

The word calendar itself, it should be remarked, supplies us with a clue to the solution to this question; for the word “calendar” derives from the Latin word “Calendarium,” which means a banker’s account book. And there is little doubt that in this society money, as the trope has it, indeed “makes the world go round.” This is so, irrespective of the concrete fact that it isn’t money that makes the world go round so much as people who (through force, among other manipulations) determine that money should be our society’s “bottom line,” the final word. For instance, regardless of whether or not a particular project – military, social, economic, or otherwise – makes any sense, money, above any other consideration, will be the factor that determines what will be pursued.

In spite of the above, and in spite of the fact that the present calendar helps to naturalize an unjust social system, there are many among us who (though they may be metaphorically sick of, and literally sick from, this particular Gregorian calendar – with its manifold workdays, and workhours, not to mention its idiotic, patriotic holidays and religious vacations) unquestioningly submit to this distribution of time.

And since many among us will be celebrating the New Year in some fashion (whether because of some sort of inertia, or from genuine pleasure at having, ironically, a bit of a vacation from the everyday calendar), it would do us well to reflect a bit on what the designation “new year” actually means. What does this truly entail? Will there ever be a genuinely new year? And, if so, how would – or, what may be a better way to phrase the question: how should a new year look?

Though such a question, arguably, ought to be decided democratically at the community level, there is at least one point that should be beyond dispute: in order to improve our lives – to ameliorate the harms that our political-economy has caused, and continues to cause, ourselves as well as the world at large – a new year should have, at the very least, half as many workdays as the present year has. And since we not only have the technological capacity to maintain (and even improve) our quality of life while, at the same time, halving the number of  hours we work each year, simple good sense demands that we work toward creating a calendar in which at least half of all of the days are vacations.

That this may sound fanciful simply reflects the degree to which pathology has become the norm; for, aside from the fact that it makes a few people obscenely rich, there is no reason for people to work as many hours as people are forced to work – and the obscene wealth of a minority should not be terribly persuasive in a nominally democratic society. Some will no doubt remark – correctly – that such a “new year,” or new calendar, will not be compatible with, among other harmful institutions, the capitalistic political-economy. This is indubitably the case. That the present calendar is incompatible with democracy, however, is equally so. Which deserves priority?

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com He lives in New York City, and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com, and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

More articles by:
July 27, 2016
Richard Moser
The Party’s Over
M. G. Piety
Smoke and Mirrors in Philadelphia
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Humiliation Games: Notes on the Democratic Convention
Arun Gupta
Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Splinters Apart
John Eskow
The Loneliness of the American Leftist
Guillermo R. Gil
A Metaphoric Short Circuit: On Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC
Norman Pollack
Sanders, Our Tony Blair: A Defamation of Socialism
Claire Rater, Carol Spiegel and Jim Goodman
Consumers Can Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms
Guy D. Nave
Make America Great Again?
Sam Husseini
Why Sarah Silverman is a Comedienne
Dave Lindorff
No Crooked Sociopaths in the White House
Dan Bacher
The Hired Gun: Jerry Brown Snags Bruce Babbitt as New Point Man For Delta Tunnels
Peter Lee
Trumputin! And the DNC Leak(s)
David Macaray
Interns Are Exploited and Discriminated Against
Ann Garrison
Rwanda, the Clinton Dynasty, and the Case of Dr. Léopold Munyakazi
Brett Warnke
Storm Clouds Over Philly
Chris Zinda
Snakes of Deseret
July 26, 2016
Andrew Levine
Pillory Hillary Now
Kshama Sawant
A Call to Action: Walk Out from the Democratic National Convention!
Russell Mokhiber
The Rabble Rise Together Against Bernie, Barney, Elizabeth and Hillary
Jeffrey St. Clair
Don’t Cry For Me, DNC: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Angie Beeman
Why Doesn’t Middle America Trust Hillary? She Thinks She’s Better Than Us and We Know It
Paul Street
An Update on the Hate…
Fran Shor
Beyond Trump vs Clinton
Ellen Brown
Japan’s “Helicopter Money” Play: Road to Hyperinflation or Cure for Debt Deflation?
Richard W. Behan
The Banana Republic of America: Democracy Be Damned
Binoy Kampmark
Undermining Bernie Sanders: the DNC Campaign, WikiLeaks and Russia
Arun Gupta
Trickledown Revenge: the Racial Politics of Donald Trump
Sen. Bernard Sanders
What This Election is About: Speech to DNC Convention
David Swanson
DNC Now Less Popular Than Atheism
Linn Washington Jr.
‘Clintonville’ Reflects True Horror of Poverty in US
Deepak Tripathi
Britain in the Doldrums After the Brexit Vote
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Threats: Arbitrary Lines on Political Maps
Robert J. Gould
Proactive Philanthropy: Don’t Wait, Reach Out!
Victor Grossman
Horror and Sorrow in Germany
Nyla Ali Khan
Regionalism, Ethnicity, and Trifurcation: All in the Name of National Integration
Andrew Feinberg
The Good TPP
400 US Academics
Letter to US Government Officials Concerning Recent Events in Turkey
July 25, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
As the Election Turns: Trump the Anti-Neocon, Hillary the New Darling of the Neocons
Ted Rall
Hillary’s Strategy: Snub Liberal Democrats, Move Right to Nab Anti-Trump Republicans
William K. Black
Doubling Down on Wall Street: Hillary and Tim Kaine
Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Delegates Take on Bernie Sanders
Quincy Saul
Resurgent Mexico
Andy Thayer
Letter to a Bernie Activist
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan is Strengthened by the Failed Coup, But Turkey is the Loser
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail