About too much work being pointless
Is it still work, if it damages society?
The first few paragraphs of this posts are the main points of one David Graeber’s last writings, “To save the world, we’re going to have to stop working”. The last is a reading list of some of my posts on the same issues, which in my opinion deserve much more reflection than they get (even if it is just to refuse them!).
“Our society is addicted to work. If there’s anything left and right both seem to agree on, it’s that jobs are good. Everyone should have a job. Work is our badge of moral citizenship. We seem to have convinced ourselves as a society that anyone who isn’t working harder than they would like to be working, at something they don’t enjoy, is a bad, unworthy person.”
“Much of this work is entirely pointless. Whole industries [or] lines of work… exist primarily to convince us there is some reason for their existence. [Much of this work] it’s also almost invariably better compensated. As we’ve seen in lockdown, the more obviously your work benefits other people, the less they pay you.”
“If this isn’t obvious, the main reason is we’re constantly encouraged to look at social problems as if they were questions of personal morality. All this work, all the carbon we’re pouring into the atmosphere, must somehow be the result of our consumerism; therefore to stop eating meat or dream of flying off to beach vacations. But this is just wrong. It’s not our pleasures that are destroying the world. It’s our puritanism, our feeling that we have to suffer in order to deserve those pleasures. If we want to save the world, we’re going to have to stop working.”
“[And here are three of the first counter-measures]:”
- Massively reduce climate change just by eliminating bullshit jobs.
- Stop building that is purely speculative, e.g. airports or building that will not be used.
- End planned obsolescence by forcing manufacturers to “make military-grade products for everyone”