Nyla Nox writing in Medium/The Coffeelicious: The annual cull — your life as surplus stock

‘Cull’- the ‘selective slaughter of inferior or surplus animals’ (Oxford English Dictionary)
Once a year, or sometimes at special occasions, a big company will execute a ‘cull’. A certain percentage of the workforce will be fired. It’s routine. It’s commonplace. It’s normal.
But what does that word actually mean — ‘cull’?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘cull’ is defined as ‘selective slaughter of inferior or surplus animals’.
And as I read this I get scared.
Is this how top managers and owners of big companies see us? And yet, they are using to choose this word. That makes us sub-human. And them? Superior to us sub-humans who need to be culled.
I am scared. How could a word like this become commonplace?
But I cannot look away anymore. This is now the philosophy that rules everyone. Inside and outside the corporations.
Ultimately it sends a strong signal: we, the culled, we, the cullable, are unfit to live.
As a banker’s slave, I was used to this.
Here is what happened to me (I worked on the night shift in the graphics center at the time, a graveyard of jobless humanities graduates):
“Waiting for the cull
People whispered. I didn’t know what they were saying.
The bankers furiously produced Pages.
‘They’re going to be culled, too’, said Ethan. ‘So they need output.’
Claire embarked on an impromptu lecture about the annual cull. Every year, she said, the Bank fired a certain percentage of its people. From all departments. This included the bankers, the secretaries, the maintenance staff and — she paused until she had every eye on her, and every ear phone pulled out — of course it also included the Center.
She, Claire, had survived many culls in the past. Oh, many, more than she could count. (one, two, three, four?)..
I noticed that not too many people were discussing their mortgages that night. Suddenly, the shadow of their debts loomed over their heads, mighty mountains that would come crashing down the second they lost their jobs.
‘Last in, first out’, said Peter, ‘that’s most likely.’ Rita and I shuddered. Peter bravely faced facts, especially now that he was all set on his course and advancing. His ticket out of here, and into a better land.
‘But when?’ I said.
Not even Claire and Ethan knew.
The C word
Imagine the Savannah.
Bush land. Umbrella thorn trees, thigh high grass.
In the bright sunlight, a herd of elephants is grazing. Senior mothers and aunties stake out their claims, juvenile males test their tusks and several tiny babies weave in and out of their family’s big legs. Everyone meanders purposefully, and the trees in their wake show evidence of it. The wildlife park is overgrazed.
Look up! A helicopter hovers over the land, over the elephants. Suddenly, it sweeps down. The herd, disturbed by the noise, turns towards their matriarch for guidance. She nervously twitches her giant ears. The heli comes closer. Dust swirls up. Elephants raise their trunks, loudly trumpeting their distress. The matriarch swerves from side to side. Babies hunker close to their mothers. A young male tries to charge the flying machine.
From the helicopter, the muzzle of a rifle protrudes. Shots ring out over the Savannah. The elephants can’t hide. But they can run. All at once, following their matriarch whose superb memory has mapped out the best route out of trouble, inherited through the generations.
Unfortunately she is up against far more cunning minds now. Helicopter and gun drive the elephants in the direction of a bleak clearing surrounded by very tall umbrella trees. There is only one way in, and the elephants hope to defend themselves there. But when they arrive, two more helis rise from behind the trees. The first blocks the exit.
Deadly gunfire blasts everything that moves. Elephants scream in terror, then in grief, trying to save their babies. When they are all down, one of the helicopters lands inside the clearing and armed rangers walk among the herd, shooting the mortally wounded. Then there is silence. For many months, other herds will come to this place, touching the remains of their cousins with the tender lips of their trunks, mourning the dead.
That is a cull.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘cull’ is defined as ‘selective slaughter of inferior or surplus animals’.
‘This cull was necessary’, says the park director. ‘There are too many elephants in the park, so we cull a certain percentage every year.’
And how are the elephants chosen for the cull? What marks a herd as the one condemned to die?
The director shakes his head at such naivety. ‘We shoot them at random’, he says.
The C word and the F word
Once again, lying on my bed in the afternoon, I couldn’t sleep. And neither could I keep away from the naughty books.
Philosophers of the enlightenment and 20th century historians were corrupting my mind. I read and re-read John Stuart Mill, Habermas, Foucault, Hannah Arendt… Books that I read or should have read during my studies and practice of anthropology.
And what I read looked very different to me now.
Some of these books kept me awake in fear, others sent me to sleep after a few pages.
When I bravely went back to the classics though, I was in for a bit of a shock. Plato’s ‘Republic’, written 2,500 years ago, was actually a pretty good text book for the kind of system we were under at the Most Successful Bank in the Universe right now. The main difference was that Plato’s elite group of philosophers who were destined to rule the state and everyone else (to the point of selective breeding), had been replaced by the elite of our natural leaders at the Most Successful Bank in the Universe. Though to be fair to Plato, he never killed the elephants.
Once again, corrupted and naughty on my afternoon bed, I was flirting with the F word.
I couldn’t help thinking how the concept of the cull, both in its imagery (making us into inferior animals) and its execution (and execution was the operative word here), was part of a proto-fascist ideology.”
I feel a great urgency to tell everyone what I saw and what I know.

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