13 votes

The abolition of work

17 comments

  1. [11]
    chrysanth
    (edited )
    Link
    This was an enjoyable read, and there are some stellar lines in here. Some things I'm not a fan of, though. The author's reference to feminism is clearly to the liberal "girlboss" kind, but there...

    This was an enjoyable read, and there are some stellar lines in here. Some things I'm not a fan of, though. The author's reference to feminism is clearly to the liberal "girlboss" kind, but there are many feminisms and many of them are anti-work like he is (or perhaps pro-play would be more accurate). There's only so much space in the piece, but glossing over this diversity within the label "feminism" isn't something I would have been okay with publishing.

    The demeaning system of domination I’ve described rules over half the waking hours of a majority of women and the vast majority of men for decades, for most of their lifespans.

    This line threw me off as well. I understand the point he's making, that men have traditionally been the productive laborers and women the reproductive laborers, and so men are subjected to certain work dynamics that don't quite exist in the household, but he also acknowledges later how reproductive labor is inseparable from work anyway... so IMO there was no need to make the distinction here, feels a bit arbitrary.

    These are relatively minor nitpicks though. One line or two I enjoyed in particular:

    People who are regimented all their lives, handed to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home in the end, are habituated to hierarchy and psychologically enslaved. Their aptitude for autonomy is so atrophied that their fear of freedom is among their few rationally grounded phobias.

    A bit provocative in how far it goes ("psychologically enslaved"), but the principle he's describing is pretty ironclad. Insofar as school as it exists today is work, I feel this myself most obviously at the ends of semesters. I don't know what to do with myself and end up scrolling through social media instead of doing something, anything, I actually enjoy (in other words, play), because I don't even know what is enjoyable anymore. Autonomy is terrifying because it is something I forgot how to do, or something I never knew how to do. Thanks for posting the article.

    10 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      The article is from 1980. Back then there was a lot less women in the workplace.

      The demeaning system of domination I’ve described rules over half the waking hours of a majority of women and the vast majority of men for decades, for most of their lifespans.

      This line threw me off as well...

      The article is from 1980. Back then there was a lot less women in the workplace.

      11 votes
    2. [9]
      Micycle_the_Bichael
      Link Parent
      GOD this has been such a big struggle for me lately. I've grown to resent my free time because I just don't know how to fill it anymore. All my old hobbies don't bring me joy anymore, I can't even...

      because I don't even know what is enjoyable anymore. Autonomy is terrifying because it is something I forgot how to do, or something I never knew how to do.

      GOD this has been such a big struggle for me lately. I've grown to resent my free time because I just don't know how to fill it anymore. All my old hobbies don't bring me joy anymore, I can't even imagine what I would want to try to replace them. Most night I just end up smoking weed and watching anime because it's the only thing I can think of that doesn't sound bad. And even then thats more of a neutral thing than something I look forward to doing. I hate that the culture I've grown up in has warped my brain so much to the point where I can't think about what I want to do without my brain wanting me to justify how it helps me advance my career or how I could eventually monetize it. It makes me feel so depressed and like I'm fundamentally broken, but I've got 15 years of school and work ingraining "if you aren't being productive, you're falling behind and you'll be a failure in life" drilled so deep into me even when I know its wrong its hard to undo.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        NaraVara
        Link Parent
        Not sure what your old hobbies were, but I have found that a lot of modern video games seem to have shifted their design philosophies from being fun pastimes to being compulsion engines. Playing...

        All my old hobbies don't bring me joy anymore

        Not sure what your old hobbies were, but I have found that a lot of modern video games seem to have shifted their design philosophies from being fun pastimes to being compulsion engines. Playing them often feels me leaving a little bit drained, like I've wasted a bunch of time, rather than engaged. The way they do this is by taking away your autonomy in exploration and discovery. They instead constantly direct you where to go and what to do.

        I'm playing Hollow Knight right now and the experience has been "freeing" in a way I haven't felt while gaming since Breath of the Wild. And the thing both of them have in common is that there are no map markers or compasses. You are in charge of figuring out what to do next and you figure out how to get there. There's nobody leading you by the nose and any time you finish doing whatever you wanted to do feels like a good time to take a break from the game. There's no FOMO or the anxiety of an unchecked box to drive you.

        I suspect a lot of hobbies that leaned into "gamified" interactions are like this now. They're so focused on making sure you know what you're "supposed" to do that they turn the feeling of 'play' into a kind of work, thus sapping the fun out of it in an attempt to make you "consume" all the "content" on offer. Social media certainly does this. But so does the news and just about everything else online. It all contributes to a sense of burnout with everything.

        7 votes
        1. Micycle_the_Bichael
          Link Parent
          Funny that you should say that, because Hollow Knight is my favorite game of all time to the point where one of my next two tattoos is going to be Hollow Knight themed :) its the only game in...

          Funny that you should say that, because Hollow Knight is my favorite game of all time to the point where one of my next two tattoos is going to be Hollow Knight themed :) its the only game in recent memory where I have gotten even remotely close to 100% (well, 112%) completion. Maybe someday I'll have the patience, energy, and skill to beat that last pantheon....

          And you make a really good point on the map system. The map in Hollow Knight is one of my favorite aspects of the game. I'm playing a lot of metroidvanias for that reason. I was playing a lot of Dead Cells for a while before burning out on it. I've taken a quick pit stop to try and beat Ori and the Blind Forest, but I want to go play some of the older Castlevania games once I complete it.

          3 votes
      2. [5]
        mrbig
        Link Parent
        You sound like a perfect candidate for meditation. I suggest Zen.

        You sound like a perfect candidate for meditation. I suggest Zen.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          Micycle_the_Bichael
          Link Parent
          I keep trying but failing with meditation. Its something I was working on with my therapist (they retired so now I'm starting the process of finding a new one). My main problem with meditation is...

          I keep trying but failing with meditation. Its something I was working on with my therapist (they retired so now I'm starting the process of finding a new one). My main problem with meditation is my ADHD. I have a really hard time focusing on meditation and then I get frustrated at my inability to pay attention to the guides (even though they say in the guided meditation that its ok and not to get frustrated :/ ) Again, I say this not as a "I cannot meditate" but as a "it is a slow and frustrating process to get there."

          There are a lot more things going on in my personal life that make the above worse, but as this is a public site I will keep those more personal specifics to myself :)

          Edit: I did want to add though, thank you for the suggestion. I appreciate the thought towards helping improve my QOL. It's always nice when someone online tries to help you, and you didn't have to do that but you did. So thanks.

          5 votes
          1. mrbig
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I have ADHD also. Like yourself, I don't like guided meditation. It is a bit goal-focused, and anything that is goal-focused has a condition of success and a condition of failure. Life is already...

            I have ADHD also. Like yourself, I don't like guided meditation. It is a bit goal-focused, and anything that is goal-focused has a condition of success and a condition of failure. Life is already like that, I don't need a meditation technique that requires me to succeed.

            Zen meditation (zazen) is different. The goal is not to transcend; in fact, it questions the very need of having a strong goal for your practice. At the same, it does have goals -- Zen is not a philosophy in the traditional sense, it challenges reasoning and logic themselves. When someone points their finger to the Moon, it would be silly to keep looking at the finger. When words point to Zen, it would be silly to keep looking at the words.

            You have goals but also don't. It's pretty neat but hard to explain, you just gotta do it for yourself.

            So you just sit and breathe. If a thought or sensation arises, you acknowledge it, you see it surfaces and you let it go on its own momentum. Like a log being dragged by the river. You don't push anything away, but you also do not attach yourself to anything. You just breathe while things pass through you. If you become too attached, just go back to breathing with no guilt -- that is not a failure, but rather part of the process.

            For a philosophical introduction to Zen, read The Way of Zen, by Allan Watts. For a more practical and comforting instruction, try The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh. If you wanna know how to actually practice zazen, this link seems good (don't worry too much if you can't follow the instructions to the letter).

            There is also the outstanding Zen Speaks, a comic book that introduces core concepts of Zen through illustrated stories.

            2 votes
          2. wervenyt
            Link Parent
            I have severe ADHD as well, and find meditation to be the best treatment next to CNS stimulants. In addition to the info /u/mrbig supplied, for mindfulness-type meditation, I had a much easier...

            I have severe ADHD as well, and find meditation to be the best treatment next to CNS stimulants. In addition to the info /u/mrbig supplied, for mindfulness-type meditation, I had a much easier time following a simple realization: meditation practice is not about focusing on the breath (or whatever) for the longest streak and trying not to break it, it's about noticing when you've stopped focusing on the breath. Everybody who isn't a true master of themselves will be derailed dozens of times per sitting, and that's tenfold with an executive function disorder. The important part is to not react to the derailment except to get back on track.

            2 votes
          3. monarda
            Link Parent
            I don't know if you game at all, but if you do there is game called Playne that's more of a meditation software than an actual game. It does however gamify meditation, and I found it useful when I...

            I don't know if you game at all, but if you do there is game called Playne that's more of a meditation software than an actual game. It does however gamify meditation, and I found it useful when I was using it. Basically you grow the world as you meditate. I started with just a few minutes a day inside the game, and eventually was able to spend about a half hour meditating on my own. I don't have ADHD though. I did fall away from it but have been thinking about starting it up again. I see it costs money now. I think I got free access as an early user but will probably buy it. It's on Steam if you use that.

            1 vote
      3. skybrian
        Link Parent
        I find sometimes I have to just do things that I don’t look forward to because I know it’s likely I’ll enjoy them once I get there. That voice saying it’s going to be boring sometimes has to be...

        I find sometimes I have to just do things that I don’t look forward to because I know it’s likely I’ll enjoy them once I get there. That voice saying it’s going to be boring sometimes has to be ignored.

        2 votes
  2. [3]
    cloud_loud
    Link
    I know I’m a filthy liberal browsing a leftist website, but this type of writing tires me easily. I think it has to do with my time spent on leftist twitter where everyone also wrote like this....

    I know I’m a filthy liberal browsing a leftist website, but this type of writing tires me easily. I think it has to do with my time spent on leftist twitter where everyone also wrote like this. Trying to sound important, like you’re writing a manifesto, and like you want every sentence to be a quote that people can post in their twitter bios.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      I don't disagree, but this essay is from the 80s so it's actually from before everyone got brain poisoned by the Internet. It does show, though, that the tendency to describe a rosy future state...

      I don't disagree, but this essay is from the 80s so it's actually from before everyone got brain poisoned by the Internet.

      It does show, though, that the tendency to describe a rosy future state and then elide or handwave away every interesting question about "ok so how do we get from here to there?" or "what about all the stuff that doesn't involve faffing about in the garden or at a typewriter?" has been a perennial problem with Leftism (and specifically Anarchists) since time immemorial.

      10 votes
      1. cloud_loud
        Link Parent
        Wow, yikes. It’s interesting, because a lot of these people refer to themselves as Marxists (even some Anarchists have considered themselves Marxists), but Marx and Engels were against this type...

        Wow, yikes.

        It’s interesting, because a lot of these people refer to themselves as Marxists (even some Anarchists have considered themselves Marxists), but Marx and Engels were against this type of utopian thinking.

        1 vote
  3. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [3]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Why do you want to talk about this silly article? Do you really think there’s no essential work?

      Why do you want to talk about this silly article? Do you really think there’s no essential work?

      1. hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        I haven't got a chance to read the article yet because wow that's a lot of words and it's very late here and I really should be sleeping, but the antiwork movement is a real thing and, in my...

        I haven't got a chance to read the article yet because wow that's a lot of words and it's very late here and I really should be sleeping, but the antiwork movement is a real thing and, in my experience, is mostly concerned with the abolition of things like wage slavery, working jobs we hate, and being forced to perform useless menial labor just to barely survive. As a movement it's brought to light serious questions about our society. I really really hope that's what this article is about and if it is, it's 100% worth discussing and thinking about.

        5 votes
      2. mrbig
        Link Parent
        I removed the top comment to avoid further confusion. The article does not defend the actual abolition of all work, but its radical transformation. So the answer for that... ...is no.

        I removed the top comment to avoid further confusion. The article does not defend the actual abolition of all work, but its radical transformation. So the answer for that...

        Do you really think there’s no essential work?

        ...is no.

        2 votes