Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Bullshit Jobs.

There’s an essay I happened upon in “The Economist,” that has fairly scared the shit out of me. It’s written by an anthropologist named David Graeber (and reprinted from “Strike!” magazine) and it’s called “On Bullshit Jobs.” Bullshit jobs

“The Economist” calls the essay “amusing.”

I think it’s anything but.

It starts this way: “In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshalled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It’s a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.”

Graeber is talking about Bullshit Jobs.

Much of our jobs included. We’re not producing food. Or anything for which the world hungers.

Yet the ruling class (yes, according to Graeber an avowed anarchist, there is a ruling class) believes too much leisure would imperil their control.

So, we are kept busy.

The repetitive tasks that used to be the province of assembly line workers are now done by us, managerial and administrative workers.

Yesterday I got an Excel doc from my client. I had asked for some quotations for an internal video I am creating for them. The document was 1,000 lines long. It had about 10,000 “cells” filled in.

I’ll stop this now. I have August timesheets to complete.


Phil Adams said...

Something to ponder while doing those timesheets.


Bukes said...

Graeber had it all wrong. No technology or system is ever developed so we can do less work. It's so we can do more in less time. Productivity. Profit. Technology in advertising.

And, would the bullshit parts of your job feel less bullshitty if you were your own boss?