Thursday, 12 March 2015

blue-collar or the golgafrinchans

Though I am never one to be surprised that I managed to miss an item of depth and scope and am usually very pleased for the serendipity of discovering it later—since after all there’s too much emphasis put on the new and novel (even if often it’s little more than a repackaged footnote), I was really floored when I was introduced anthropology professor David Graeber’s wiltingly vivid critique of the labour force as a reflection of the values of those who bind the purse strings. As predicted by economist John Maynard Keyes back in 1930, by the end of the century, mankind had harnessed technologies sufficient to allow us to fulfill our productivity quotas with a fifteen hour workweek and enjoy more leisure time without stint.

There is for me little room for doubt that that came about for us globally but we are not able to accept it and kept our current caste-system.  In a perfectly engineered jobs market, however, the growing bulk of which are in administration and management, are distastefully unfulfilling and we’ll plug away well beyond those first few break-even hours to whittle away at redundancy, said technology even stealing more of the balance of free-time. We’re committed to this for the sake of appearances and stability, rigged also for us to harbor resentment for those who we suspect not putting in their fair share of drudgery, that’s yet pointless and the invention of some corporate constabularies to keep us safely occupied. Naturally, those in power fear the tide of social unrest that characterised the 1960s and 1970s and don’t want to see it return—certainly accounting for why the Occupy-Movements were disdained.  Discord is also sewn, deviously well, among those tethered to their petty bailiwicks and those who perform actual work, a class maligned of teachers, sanitation workers and nurses and assailed with selfish questions of minimum wage, social security—and that intervening service-sector that’s been created to cater to that overwhelming sea of middling-management, also expected to work the customary workweek, though time must fly for them. 
And of course, there is a corollary envy for the wealthy, privileged and talented who got all the breaks and whom give us off course something to aspire to and a reason to play along.  Still, it does psychological violence to our morale.  Even with the amount of manufacturing jobs swept out of sight—in order to build and sustain this dystopian state of affairs, it’s not as if there are legions of assemblers and welders nor wild crews of labourers under the whip of a single floor bosses—and a disproportionate number of meaningless, imaginary jobs are held in the world’s workshops too. If this article is new to you as well, I highly recommend reading it, as I think my humble abstract has turned out to be nearly as long, and be sure to staff it through your aggrieved colleagues and co-workers.