12 Sep

On Bullshit Jobs

I’m guessing Strike! magazine comes from a very certain perspective (labor, union oriented). Nonetheless, as an entrepreneur and artist, a lot of this rings a bell with me:

“This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist? How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment. Yet it is the peculiar genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the fish-fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.  Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but one easy way to get a sense is to ask: what would happen were this entire class of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without teachers or dock-workers would soon be in trouble, and even one without science fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs, lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs or legal consultants to similarly vanish. (Many suspect it might markedly improve.) Yet apart from a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.”

(Via On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs | Strike! Magazine.)

I tend to come at this from the opposite perspective though. I often make the argument to my anti-red, flag-loving, 40-hr a week wage-bound friends that they live in a more Russian communist looking sort of environ than I do. To whit:

the number of salaried paper-pushers ultimately seems to expand, and more and more employees find themselves, not unlike Soviet workers actually, working 40 or even 50 hour weeks on paper, but effectively working 15 hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their time is spent organising or attending motivational seminars, updating their facebook profiles or downloading TV box-sets.

These same people get corporate healthcare (the large behemoth hands it out) socialized by the size of the large company. Their profits are handled by the large company. Many of them expect retirement to be handled by the large company.

Of course, that whole system is vaporizing too, to be fair.

Which is why this article was an interesting swirl, and got me wondering how we transition to whatever seems to be coming down the pipeline…