huis clos but instead of three people being trapped in hell, they're just working at safeway

i finally understood the marxist theory of the alienation of labor when i realized it's just that sensation of your work having no relationship to your community's welfare, your boss having no connection to you as a person with an independent will, and generally their seeming like a creature from another dimension because they're faced with slightly less dire scarcity than you. that's class war, babey!


imagine working a job that genuinely and directly affected the quality of life for the community you depend on. imagine if every job was like that.

@garbados That is what my job is like and I'm sure you can tell from the general tone of my posts how damn fulfilling that is.

@emsenn i'm so glad for you. that's so important.

@garbados That's the thing, like, from most contemporary leftist standpoints, Work is actually good and important and can be a great way to derive meaning in your life

Just not the way it currently is. We should not be rallying against labour as a whole, merely against the ubiquity of Bullshit Jobs

I understand work as specifically alienated labor though which I think is an important distinction.

You could consider cleaning the house, prepping a meal and making art as work too but I don't think that most people really do, because it's not draining and relentless in the same way. It's just living.

Work is also importantly tied to the idea of "earning" subsistence, which values alienating yourself and suffering through it as a rite of passage to survive.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder idk, i think it's important to insist that those things ARE work. otherwise, you've allowed the capitalist to define work for you as specifically that toil which enriches the capitalist, factionalizing workers against themselves at the boss' bidding. welders and housekeepers and developers alike all share the front ✊

Yeah that's fair. It's also true that some people get a lot of meaning out of their work.

Not to mention we'll still probably rely on people alienating labor until we find a way to automate drudge work and stuff, which will probably still exist for a while even under socialism.

But idolizing work can also make it harder to fight against things like wage labor, reinforce the toxic culture of "work ethic" and disadvantages those who are unable to work.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder yeah, protestant "work ethic" propaganda is some capitalist bullshit. that's not what i mean by honoring work, but i can understand the interpretation. i think i need to think more to find the right words, but i don't at all mean to privilege those capable of specific forms of toil. that just recreates the capitalist's method of dividing workers against themselves.

i guess i'd argue we're all workers, though i don't have the words to make that argument very clearly.

before leaping into it, can i ask what you consider "drudge work"?

I was mostly responding to the other commenter's idea. Absolutely people should be appreciated for their work though and rewarded for it.

Drudge work is something we'd define as a society, but basically anything that's so dehumanizing, tedious and banal that in a free society nobody would choose to do it. That also ties into work conditions though, so something that's drudgery under capitalism could easily be meaningful and rewarding in a different context.

@garbados @witchfynder_finder
I really had my eyes opened after reading "Inventing the future" though and envisioning a post work society (to get an idea where i'm coming from).

Before as a Marxist I'd dismiss anyone who isn't a worker, knowingly or not, because I privileged workers as the "true" agent for change.

But that assumes all workers want socialism (not always true), dismisses the unemployed (even if they're "working class") and made me disdain anyone middle class uncritically.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder oh, that sounds fascinating. i'll try to pick up that book.

I really do recommend it, I have an epub if you can't find it, but if you want to support the author it's on verso books

@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados I've been re-acquainting myself with Richard Scarry now that I have kids of my own, and it's interesting how much respect his books show for pretty much all work. What changed? Globalization? Financialization? Further urbanization? The rise of "knowledge work"?

@freakazoid @witchfynder_finder @pootz you know that asshole in movies who's like "how much do YOU make, huh? you see this watch? it's worth your house. oh, you don't even own this house! well, those who can, do, and those who can't, teach! ahahaha"

spiraling wealth inequality means that asshole owns the world.

so i guess some combination of globalization and financialization, i.e., late capitalism.

@garbados @freakazoid @witchfynder_finder

Not sure how to answer "what changed?" since I'm not sure *exactly* sure what the question is asking.

However, one of the important points of Inventing the Future is that automation not only devalues work, but eliminates a bunch of meaningful work which makes it increasingly harder to promise people work, espeically under capitalism.

The drive for profit undercuts our ability to demand dignified work because capitalism literally won't *need* it.

@garbados @freakazoid @witchfynder_finder

Basically my main point here is that I would argue work has to be decoupled from survival in order for it to become meaningful and fulfilling.

Otherwise we have to invent work for a system that doesn't garauntee people a living by nature of just being alive, which leads to the bullshit job syndrome. That's not even getting into power dynamics, oppression and jobs created specifically to reinforce the system itself.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados This problem has tended to be cyclical historically, as far as I can tell. Or maybe WWII and/or the post-Depression era temporarily created an excessively egalitarian society, at least in the US.

I see two forces at work right now that make me wonder how much of this is inherent in capitalism vs being driven by particular quirks of policy and global politics: ...

@garbados @witchfynder_finder @pootz First is that wages and negotiating power are being depressed for lower-skilled work by the fact that there are big differences in living standards between countries and people or work can often move (which ideally they should; it's the difference in living standards that's bad).

Second is that we've had historic low interest rates for the entire lives of probably everyone in this thread except me, which is literally a subsidy for capital.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados (35 years may seem like a long time, but the Fed has existed for over a century and banking for much longer than that).

While I agree in principle that work should be separated from survival, I'm not sure we'd be having this conversation if work were easy to find, paid well, and workers could choose a wide range of trade-offs between cash, hours, and other aspects of their work.


@freakazoid @garbados @witchfynder_finder

The golden age of capitalism after the Depression had to do with the destruction of capital that opened up investment opportunities but also gave workers more leverage cause, well a lot of them died.

Work is worth less now because of some of what you laid out, but also because of the ways that automation deskills most jobs even if it creates a sliver of higher paid, high skill jobs in the process (like tech).

So that + a global labor market.

@freakazoid @garbados @witchfynder_finder

The point wouldn't be to get rid of work though in creating a "post work" society, but making it voluntary.

Because realistically we'll still need work to be done. But if we decouple work from survival, then we can start to fight back against the power capital has by being able to deny work that is dehumanizing, unfulfilling and hyper-exploitative.

@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados I want this, too. How it works out in the absence of hyperabundance of necessities would seem to be very dependent on what fraction of people end up producing more than they consume. If it's the vast majority, then great, I think it'll be workable. If it's not, then population growth can end up making everyone worse off, which is the opposite of what happens in developed countries with growing populations today.

I'm thinking UBI/universal basic services if that helps

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@freakazoid @witchfynder_finder @pootz at present, work is coercive, and there is abundance but it is distributed unfairly as a method of coercion, such that we live in scarcity despite there being no humane reason for it. do you worry that, if work is made voluntary, that abundance would disappear? the capitalist does not create or supply abundance; they restrict it, even unto their comrade’s starvation.

do you worry that in the hard times, a voluntary society would lack the will to survive? even when we are denied the fruits of our labors, we work hard for each other. it is already the only way to survive.

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@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados There was not a notable increase in mortality during the Great Depression. While there are multiple sources, just searching "great depression deaths" turns up this as one of the top results:

But a large fraction of the women who entered the labor force during WWII stayed in the labor force, which caused huge economic growth.


Well I was going more with WWII, but if you're including that then I guess I stand corrected.
@garbados @witchfynder_finder

@pootz @witchfynder_finder @garbados Oh! Sorry, I didn't realize you were including WWII. Yes, that did kill a lot of men who were at their prime working age, which indeed would have increased bargaining power. I'm not sure how many women stayed in the working force vs men who were killed, but overall at least in the US there was a huge increase in productive capacity that was partially paid for by the other Allies.

@garbados @witchfynder_finder @pootz I'm not a gold bug, but I think Nixon's closing of the gold window in the US did lead to a dramatic decline in fiscal discipline not just by the US government but by all borrowers. We haven't seen significant inflation since the early '80s despite the dramatic increase in the money supply because of globalization.

@garbados @witchfynder_finder @pootz Historically, interest rates have averaged around 5%. While that may not seem like much, it's 20x what the US had at the end of 2016. And it about doubles the cost of a datacenter that depreciates over 20 years. It wouldn't increase the capital cost of the servers as much since they depreciate over 3 years or less, but it would more than double the capital cost of power plants to serve that datacenter.


"job that genuinely and directly affected the quality of life for the community you depend on" sounds like a mountain of a burden to be carrying, and sounds a lot like accidentally becoming the secretary of your homeowner's association when all you wanted was a roof.

I'm an introvert. Alienating work means I can scurry off to my corner, do my thing, get paid, and then go buy an ice cream from an alienated ice cream seller worker person, or ideally from a vending machine.
@garbados The workplace is changing, and now as a somewhat senior software engineer I'm expected to reach out across silos and engage with stakeholders and all that stuff that is kind of rewarding when doing it, but also means forcing my mind out of the immediate technical problem I'm working on, which requires massive spoons on some days.

It's corporate, but it's kind of a community too, within that frame. We're all people, and even have some shared goals and ideals, no matter how trite they sound when managers try to crystallize them into slides.

A believe a lot of the challenges are the same as being a grocer in a friendly neighborhood and maintaining relationships with every face.

@clacke i think there is a misunderstanding. i assure you that you do not want to be alienated, even if you do want to be left alone; the two are distinct.

that alienation means you have no power of self-determination, and nothing but your paycheck and your employer’s externalities affect your community. this isn’t a good thing. you’re being robbed, and your community is being cheated.

it’s not too much responsibility if the work is sufficiently shared. to use your metaphor, you get a roof, and there’s a voluntary work-party on saturdays to clean up the complex. that secretarial work, folks opt-in to help out, because their life isn’t held hostage by the poverty gun.

@garbados To go back to what I was originally commenting on, I would find it terrifying if I had a job that genuinely and directly affected the quality of life for the community I depend on.

If I accidentally go down a rabbit hole and waste a week at work, or I deploy a horrible bug to production, I just have to answer to my colleagues and my manager, maybe some high-profile client. I would hate to feel that I directly affected the quality of life of some community of desperate people who need my help. And that's what that phrasing makes me think. Maybe it means something different, but this was what my immediate reaction to reading it was.

I don't want meaningful interactions with more people than my immediate family and a handful of friends and colleagues, and a lot of post-capitalism visionary stuff sounds like we'd be in big hypersocial communes, and that just makes me feel pretty good about my current life situation and our current society.

@clacke why is it preferable to enrich strangers you don’t care about than to enrich people you do care about? i don’t understand.

@clacke i really dont know how you can start from “post-capitalism might involve additional social interactions” and come to “it is actually fine that prison labor hauls the frozen corpses of the evicted from piss-reeking doorways because the rich deem such atrocities to be cost-effective”

it just seems like an astonishingly shallow analysis

Join the civil service! What you give up in end game $$$ you get back in having direct input to ensuring regulations are written properly.


> what you give up in end game $$$

imagine having a living wage. enough food, solid roof, see a doctor, see a movie, retire comfortably...

now imagine it not being tied to your ability to work.

we have nothing to lose but our chains, comrade.

I agree the status quo can't stand. As our labour becomes less valuable day by day, so errodes our government's accountability to the individual over the corporation. The first step is to solve the socialist equation.

However, I'd still take libertarianism over communism. Distribute power to the individual rather than a central governing body.

My fear is that any body powerful enough to provide a living wage that's not tied to our labour, is a body highly suceptable to corruption.

@garbados @alexjgriffith The idea introduced by Mises but shared by many, that an entirely planned economy is impossible for multiple reasons, and the only way to plan resource use is through the decentralized mechanisms of free markets.

Today some people are arguing that it wasn't a qualitative problem but a quantitative problem and that today's hardware might actually be able to optimize an entire economy. But the calculation per se is only part of the problem, other aspects include e.g. people's revealed choices under scarcity.…

Our interstellar future according to Iain Banks solves the problem through post-scarcity resource availability *and* hyperintelligent AIs that live in hyperspace, enabling ... all together now ...

Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism!

@clacke @alexjgriffith nice

knowing the state of logistical practices even as far back as the ‘70s, i’m confident this “problem” has been no such thing for a long time. could a world government direct a global economy? probably not ethically or effectively, but not for want of tech. could decentralized federations of material communities? i have no doubt.

the example of cybersyn guides my confidence:

even now, amazon and walmart operate command economies practically larger than any state project ever has, but they depress worker conditions and wages and jack up prices to satisfy the profit motive, disenfranchising the people while enriching the owners. the issue isn’t tech or complexity but the authoritarianism inherent in late-stage capitalism, where virtually every market is an oligopoly engaged in a race to the bottom to serve the interests of the rich.

It would be amazing if we could create incentive structures for corporations that did not boil down to profit maximization and growth at the expense of all else.

@alexjgriffith @garbados @clacke in theory I guess this is B corporations I think? but I have to idea whether that actually functions that way or is just a gimmick

What an interesting concept! Unfortunately, after doing a quick read on them, it looks like you're right about them being primarily a gimmick :(
@garbados @clacke

@alexjgriffith @clacke what is important about the particularities of a corporation versus, say, a cooperative?

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