A funny video by David Graeber on the value of work.
When I meet people at parties. I’d often say, “I’m an anthropologist. What do you do?” And people would not want to admit it. After you get them a little drunk they’ll say,
“Well, you know, actually, I’m the senior east coast vision manager for this… I don’t actually do anything! I rewrite reports and then have meetings. Then give them to other people who have meetings about the reports.”
Or they would say,
“Well, I don’t really do anything. I have this computer job. I could automate it and write software to do the whole thing but don’t tell my boss!”
“I want to do a job where I care for other people and benefit them in some way. If you want to do that they pay so little you can’t take care of your own family.”
David Graeber has been talking about the proliferation of bullshit jobs for quite a few years. Bullshit jobs are the direct consequence of jobs being the main and often the only way of gaining access to wealth.
They really pushed this originally puritan idea that work is valuable in itself —it doesn’t have to produce anything. If you’re not working at something you don’t particularly like you’re just a bad person, a workshy character. In a perverse way, the uselessness of the work actually became a virtue. Anything that made the work fulfilling sort of undercut that disciplinary role of work.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with rewarding effort… as long as the work done actually creates value, it is not negawork!
David Graeber thinks we’re at the brink of a reformulation of what work is and what is valuable about it. That could really lead to a reformulation of how we organise everything.
Featured Image: David Graeber on the Value of Work. Illustration & animation: Jack Dubben (https://jackdubben.com/)
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