Bullshit Jobs

anthropologist David Graeber book Bullshit Jobs, this summary from Wikipedia

In Bullshit Jobs, American anthropologist David Graeber posits that the productivity benefits of automation have not led to a 15-hour workweek, as predicted by economist John Maynard Keynes in 1930, but instead to “bullshit jobs”: “a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.”[1] While these jobs can offer good compensation and ample free time, Graeber holds that the pointlessness of the work grates at their humanity and creates a “profound psychological violence”.[1]

The author contends that more than half of societal work is pointless, both large parts of some jobs and, as he describes, five types of entirely pointless jobs:

flunkies, who serve to make their superiors feel important, e.g., receptionists, administrative assistants, door attendants, store greeters, makers of websites whose sites neglect ease of use and speed for looks;
goons, who act to harm or deceive others on behalf of their employer, e.g., lobbyists, corporate lawyers, telemarketers, public relations specialists, community managers;
duct tapers, who temporarily fix problems that could be fixed permanently, e.g., programmers repairing bloated code, airline desk staff who calm passengers whose bags do not arrive;
box tickers, who create the appearance that something useful is being done when it is not, e.g., survey administrators, in-house magazine journalists, corporate compliance officers, quality service managers;
taskmasters, who create extra work for those who do not need it, e.g., middle management, leadership professionals.[2][1]
Graeber argues that these jobs are largely in the private sector despite the idea that market competition would root out such inefficiencies. In companies, he concludes that the rise of service sector jobs owes less to economic need than to “managerial feudalism”, in which employers need underlings in order to feel important and maintain competitive status and power.[1][2] In society, he credits the Puritan-capitalist work ethic for making the labor of capitalism into religious duty: that workers did not reap advances in productivity as a reduced workday because, as a societal norm, they believe that work determines their self-worth, even as they find that work pointless. Graeber describes this cycle as “profound psychological violence”[2] and “a scar across our collective soul”.[3] Graeber suggests that one of the challenges to confronting our feelings about bullshit jobs is a lack of a behavioral script in much the same way that people are unsure of how to feel if they are the object of unrequited love. In turn, rather than correcting this system, Graeber writes, individuals attack those whose jobs are innately fulfilling.[3]

Graeber holds that work as a source of virtue is a recent idea, that work was disdained by the aristocracy in classical times, but inverted as virtuous through then-radical philosophers like John Locke. The Puritan idea of virtue through suffering justified the toil of the working classes as noble.[2] And so, Graeber continues, bullshit jobs justify contemporary patterns of living: that the pains of dull work are suitable justification for the ability to fulfill consumer desires, and that fulfilling those desires is indeed the reward for suffering through pointless work. Accordingly, over time, the prosperity extracted from technological advances has been reinvested into industry and consumer growth for its own sake rather than the purchase of additional leisure time from work.[1] Bullshit jobs also serve political ends, in which political parties are more concerned about having jobs than whether the jobs are fulfilling. In addition, he contends, populations occupied with busy work have less time to revolt.[3]

As a potential solution, Graeber suggests universal basic income, a livable benefit paid to all, without qualification, which would let people work at their leisure.[2] The author credits a natural human work cycle of cramming and slacking as the most productive way to work, as farmers, fishers, warriors, and novelists vary in the rigor of work based on the need for productivity, not the standard working hours, which can appear arbitrary when compared to cycles of productivity. Graeber contends that time not spent pursuing pointless work could instead be spent pursuing creative activities.[1]

Garw Goch thoughts

Have you ever wondered why the massive improvements in industrial production, automation or technology has not led to a huge decrease in work?

What would a world look like without unnecessary work? What is unnecessary work? If it was eleminated what would our lives be like?

If we start at Marx’s view that profit comes from Labour that would mean at least 10% of work was not needed probably more.

If we take Yanis Varoufakis’s ideas on a future socialist society, we would need no stock exchange, no banks just one credit union, and no upper management,.

Murry Bookchin suggested we run our communities and production democratically, not the bullshit democracy we’re we give some professional flunky 5 years to do whichever lobbyist pays him the most for but delegate democracy where the community makes the decisions and the delegate simply enacts them.

Comsumerism and advertising, bullshit work?

In the 1930s advertising changed from selling you “what you need” to “what you want” this shift in marketing led to huge comsumerism after WW2. Advertising is a trillion dollar industry that is driving a new surveillance capitalism, huge resources have been put into human behaviour studies.

Advertising behavioural work has gone from prediction to manipulation, they watch you through your camera, track you, listen to you through your microphone, they read your emails and messages to see how you speak, write and think. They hope to communicate with you like your friends or parents to achieve a sale.

I would say all advertising is bullshit work and God knows how many lawyers and flunky’s it harbours, or how many artist and scientists waste they’re lives on this crap.

The biggest bullshit job as got to be the Military industrial complex, in the USA alone its budget is 760 billion USA GDP is about 30 trillion, then you got the CIA, FBI, ATF, Homeland security, DEA, federal and state police, capital police, border guards, prison guards, state police. All these people just to defend property?

So where are we? No bankers, stock brokers, security/military, weapons manufacturers, advertising, politicalians, civil servants, insurance sellers, scientists/artist who do useless tasks, and all the jobs David Graeber brought up, nearly forgot the Rich and all the flunkies hiding their money and wiping their arses.

So if we just want to look after our families provide food, shelter and health care how much labour would that take? 10 hours a week for maybe 20 years of your life?

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