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Bullshit Jobs

David Graeber

I would like this book to be an arrow aimed at the heart of our civilization. There is something very wrong with what we have made ourselves. We have become a civilization based on work - not even ‘productive work’ but work as an end and meaning in itself. We have come to believe that men and women who do not work harder than they wish as jobs they do not particularly enjoy are bad people unworthy of love, care, or assistance from their communities. It is as if we have collectively acquiesced to our own enslavement...This is a disastrous state of affairs. I wish it to end.
— David Graeber

This book is awesome.

It’s fun, well-researched, smart, witty, and important. And Rebecca Solnit has a blurb on the back, an unusual, exciting link to this kind of work.

“There was once a time when…It was considered a good thing that there might be a few years in a young man’s or woman’s life where money was not the primary motivation; where he or she could thus be free to pursue other forms of value: say, philosophy, poetry, athletics, sexual experimentation, altered states of consciousness, politics, or the history of Western art. Nowadays it is considered important they should should work.”

Graeber’s an anthropologist, his book is accordingly full of first-hand accounts, experiential evidence of his thesis that we’ve forgotten what the economy is for, and let it blindly shape life for us.

“This is one of the things that comes through strongly in the testimonies I assembled: the infuriating ambiguity. There is something terrible, ridiculous, outrageous going on, but it’s not clear whether you are even allowed to acknowledge it, and it’s usually even less clear who or what can be blamed.”

 

I wrote an essay drawing from this book, expanding what Graeber calls the ‘Safe-Word Theory of Social Liberation: