Monday, June 18, 2018

Bullsh*t Jobs: Myth of Modern Work

My wage slave job has no point. Well, it has one point, as I found out one day at work.

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory review -- the myth of capitalist efficiency
The BS box tickers have taken over (Alamy)
Is your job one that makes the world a better place? If not, it is probably "bullshit," part of a system that is keeping us under control. 

I had a bullshit job once. It involved answering the phone for an important man, except the phone didn’t ring for hours on end, so I spent the time guiltily converting my Ph.D. into a book.

I’ve also had several jobs that were not bullshit but were steadily bullshitized: interesting jobs in the media and academia that were increasingly taken up with filling out [bureaucratic] compliance forms and time allocation surveys.

I’ve also had a few sh*t jobs, but that’s something different. Toilets need to be cleaned. But to have a bullshit job is to know that if it were to disappear tomorrow, it would make no difference to the world: In fact, it might make the world a better place.
Tatted up butch cop giving out BS tickets
When I read [American anarchist London School of Economics Anthropology Professor] David Graeber’s essay "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs" in Strike! magazine in 2013, I felt somehow vindicated.

I had sat in the pub on many a Friday evening moaning to colleagues about data entry and inefficient meetings. But with the Martian gaze of the anthropologist, Graeber managed to articulate my plight in a way that made me feel part of some grand, absurdist outrage.

Black liberationist speaks after 40 year sentence
I wasn’t alone. The essay went viral, receiving more than a million hits and being translated into a dozen languages.

“Guerrilla” activists even replaced hundreds of ads in London tube carriages [subway trains] with quotes from the essay, presumably in order to jolt commuters out of their apathetic stupor. As is the way in the world of reactive non-fiction publishing, a book followed.
Leave those kids alone: helicopter parenting
The argument of both essay and book is this: In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that technological advances would enable us to work a 15-hour week.

Yet, we seem to be busier than ever before. Those workers who actually do stuff are burdened with increasing workloads, while box-tickers and bean-counters multiply.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years
In an age that supremely prizes capitalist efficiency, the proliferation of pointless jobs is a puzzle.

Why are employers in the public and private sector alike behaving like the bureaucracies of the old Soviet Union, shelling out wages to workers they don’t seem to need?

Since bullshit jobs make no economic sense, Graeber argues, their function must be political. A population kept busy with make-work is less likely to revolt. More

The secret rainforest in the heart of an [ORMES rich] African volcano in Mozambique

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