I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jobs Don’t Work! The whole structure of modern life has at its center the waged job. It doesn’t really matter if you’re making a paltry minimum wage (or less!) or nearly six figures (or more)—well, it does matter to YOU, since more money is better than less, self-evidently. But the deeper logic of our relationship to how we make life, how we reproduce the material and social conditions of our daily existence, is quite similar regardless of pay scale.
In this era, if you’re not pushing a shopping cart around looking for cans and bottles, or riding in your private jet to the next country club or gallery opening you probably describe yourself as “middle class.” This self-labeling carries social consequences that we don’t think or talk much about. If someone asks you what you do, you’ll probably answer with what your paid job is before quickly changing the subject, since talking about how unsatisfactory your work probably is just makes you look bad. It is socially forbidden to discuss how much money you actually make, even if comparing pay and benefits in a more transparent way would actually be extremely helpful to everyone. Instead, we are expected to glow with pride over how we trade our human capacities for creativity, engagement, sharing, skills, etc., for a vague but always apparently adequate amount of money. Complaints are frowned upon, whether regarding the work itself, the company, or the mysterious level of compensation. It’s ok to bitch about the boss, but all complaining is answered with the same pat solution: get another job! It is simply not allowed into the conversation—or most imaginations—that the “job” is itself the problem. That humans organized into a capitalist economy based on wage-work (whether by the hour or by the annual salary) necessarily leads the vast majority of us into profound loneliness, frustration over our inability to affect the world around us through what we do all day, despair over the emptiness of our daily lives, and a self-reproducing closed circuit of confusion and self-delusion. More »