August 18th, 2017

So, I’m nearly finished reading Rutger Bregman’s Utopia For Realists: How We Can Build The Ideal World and one of my first reactions was to think that I should send copies to all my elected representatives. They all need to read this book.

This morning I read Chapter 7—Why It Doesn’t Pay To Be A Banker—which references David Graeber’s brilliant, 2013* essay: On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs.

Bullshit jobs are, Bregman writes, …the jobs that even the people doing them admit are, in essence, superfluous.

Why do we, in the 21st century, have so many jobs that if the people performing those jobs (I can’t dignify them as work) all went on vacation at once no one would notice? Graeber explains:

The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.

Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at.

Go, read Graeber’s essay and then read Bregman’s book.


*Of course Douglas Adams nailed the concept decades ago….


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