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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Couple of Good Items on Killing the Job Culture

Bill Richardson at BWR Montag:

I sat down a few minutes ago to set the priorities for the day and it was a nice little exercise - the wage-slave tasks seem a little less daunting and I have a plan to slough through them. Then, when I turned to bang out some quick thoughts for this space, I had an epiphany: Those aren't my priorities, they're an organized to-do list for the job.

At least in my head, my top priority has been to find an alternative to my wage-slave job that would enable me to keep paying the bills. When I sit down to work out my daily tasks based on my priorities, I haven't been including tasks that would lead toward my personal freedom - which, as we've been concluding lately, is the only freedom I have any control over. Because I haven't been treating it as a real priority - it's simply been the item at the top of my wish list.

Steve Pavlina (via Deconsumption). Steve Pavlina's "Ten Reasons You Should Never Get a Job":
3. Lifelong domestication.

Getting a job is like enrolling in a human domestication program. You learn how to be a good pet.

Look around you. Really look. What do you see? Are these the surroundings of a free human being? Or are you living in a cage for unconscious animals? Or have you grown to love the color beige?

How’s your obedience training coming along? Does your master reward your good behavior? Do you get disciplined if you fail to obey your master’s commands?

Is there any spark of free will left inside you? Or has your conditioning made you a pet for life?

Humans are not meant to be raised in such cages. You poor thing…

5. Way too risky.

...Does putting yourself in a position where someone else can turn off all your income just by saying two words (i.e. “you’re fired”) sound like a safe and secure situation to you? Does having only one income stream honestly sound more secure than having 10?

The idea that a job is the most secure way to generate income is just plain silly. You can’t have security if you don’t have control, and employees have the least control of anyone. If you’re an employee, then your real job title should be professional gambler....

6. Having an evil bovine master.

When you run into an idiot in the entrepreneurial world, you can turn around and head the other way. When you run into an idiot in the corporate world, you have to turn around and say, “Sorry, boss.”

Did you know that the word boss comes from the Dutch word baas, which historically means master?

Reminds me of something a local anarchist said in her program on the public access station: it's in the basic human behavioral programming, when somebody keeps following you around and bugging you, to either get away from them or stomp the shit out of them. It's called the fight or flight response. At work, you chew Rolaids instead. We're not biologically designed to live under constant stress and harassment.

10. Becoming a coward.

Have you noticed that employed people have an almost endless capacity to whine about the problems at their companies? But they don’t really want solutions – they just want to vent and make excuses why it’s all someone else’s problem. It’s as if getting a job somehow drains all the free will out of people and turns them into spineless cowards.

Wow. That one hits me a little closer to home than I'd like. But I try to use my current wage income in ways that reduce the size of the income stream I'll need in the future, and thus be less dependent on an employer's whims. Which is probably a good thing, because by the time I have to look for another job it will probably be standard procedure for HR Nazis to Google the applicant's name, in which case I'll be on the equivalent of a "no fly" list.

If you can’t call your boss a jerk now and then without fear of getting fired, you’re no longer free. You’ve become your master’s property.

When you work around cowards all day long, don’t you think it’s going to rub off on you? Of course it will. It’s only a matter of time before you sacrifice the noblest parts of your humanity on the altar of fear: first courage… then honesty… then honor and integrity… and finally your independent will. You sold your humanity for nothing but an illusion. And now your greatest fear is discovering the truth of what you’ve become.

I don’t care how badly you’ve been beaten down. It is never too late to regain your courage. Never!
9. Loss of freedom.

It takes a lot of effort to tame a human being into an employee. The first thing you have to do is break the human’s independent will. A good way to do this is to give them a weighty policy manual filled with nonsensical rules and regulations. This leads the new employee to become more obedient, fearing that s/he could be disciplined at any minute for something incomprehensible. Thus, the employee will likely conclude it’s safest to simply obey the master’s commands without question.

As part of their obedience training, employees must be taught how to dress, talk, move, and so on. We can’t very well have employees thinking for themselves, now can we? That would ruin everything.

Fortunately, thanks to the state's schools (the first state "public" school systems were created about the same time as large-scale factory employment) people are already used to being told how to dress, talk, and move from around kindergarten age.

God forbid you should put a plant on your desk when it’s against the company policy. Oh no, it’s the end of the world! Cindy has a plant on her desk! Summon the enforcers! Send Cindy back for another round of sterility training!

Free human beings think such rules and regulations are silly of course. The only policy they need is: “Be smart. Be nice. Do what you love. Have fun.”...

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering that when you look up "mutualist" on wikipedia you get a reference to "Kevin Carson: A Contemporary Mutualist", I'd be surprised if any boss would hire you after googling your name. He'd probably be afraid you'll come to work and claim it as your own when the boss leaves for lunch, as lying, thieving mutualists are wont to do.

August 01, 2006 12:48 PM  
Anonymous autocrat said...

Dawn breaks but it isn't a new day
Men like sheep, women like mice
All caught in the rat race
Take a closer look at what's going on today
Are you really justified in having nothing to say?
Are you really justified in having nothing to say?
Are you not aware of a feeling of humiliation -
Don't you have to sell yourself and keep on saying "Sir"?
Are you really satisfied that everything's O.K.?

Conditioned from the start and controlled from all directions
Swamped by a normality that musn't be questioned
Ignorance is only a form of self-deception
Are you really justified in having nothing to say!?
Are you really justified in having nothing to say!?
Take a closer look at what's going on today
Are you really satisfied that everything's O.K.?
Cos perhaps after all too much thinking doesn't pay!
Perhaps after all too much thinking doesn't pay
Perhaps after all too much thinking doesn't pay
Perhaps after all too much thinking doesn't pay...

- Nick Blinko

August 01, 2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main problem I have is that the exit strategies from the rat race involve either poverty or the immoral expropriation of the labour of others.

I was really interested in your earlier post about the "Emma Goldman Finishing School", but I'm not sure I would be happy living like that.

On the other hand Steve Pavlina's solution: "build systems that generate income 24/7, especially passive income." essentially means you are skimming from other people in some way.

Duncan

August 01, 2006 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't rule out poverty so quickly, it has some advantages: You get nice hours, no car insurance, and you get to have the whole "Look at me I'm so cool because I'm seeking my inner spirituality through poverty" attitude.

August 01, 2006 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for that list of reasons why to not get a job, some of the alternatives he suggests do sound a lot like "skimming off of others":

This can include starting a business, building a web site, becoming an investor, or generating royalty income from creative work.

August 01, 2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger Dr. Lenny said...

hey kevin -
i hit that wall a few years back - let me hit you with a business proposition off-channel. I think that a redial with redile might be just the vehicle that fits your driving ability. i was looking for a blogger to take an objective look at some stuff : the capacity may surprise you.
having control of your own time is much more important to a mutualist than being a wage slave - but marketing thru the media is so hopeless, its almost pathetic. I did a recent count of crosslynx from my site, because i am cut off from my numbers by a silly password problem that involves blogger - go figure. anyhow, i skype and have protected chat space where we can talk, but i'd need an nda (non-disclosure agreement). i'd be willing to let vache folle draw up such a device, if he be willing.

August 01, 2006 7:24 PM  
Blogger Dr. Lenny said...

the crosslynx thread needs finished. this site seems to get more crossposters from my links - other bloggers look here for info.
you feel comfortable where friends hang out and my blogging friends like it here. i guess we trust your judgement, for some odd reason.

August 01, 2006 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Lady Aster said...

Kevin,

I faced this problem once in my life. I remember facing a dead, corporate world at every turn which I simply couldn't, couldn't live in. And every other mens of survival- families, marriages, academia, the state- demanded the same compromises which constituted the destruction of one's artistic faculty and one's mind.

I found my answer. Even in my blackest moments I thank the stars for having done so. But I think of the tepid Hell most people are forced to live their lives- and I see the ruin of their spirits that results- and my eyes burn white-hot against their hideous world.

You might like this link:
http://www.geocities.com/ms_shiris/deckofcards.htm

Cast from Crete to San Francisco,
there has always been one place,
shore of refuge, for intelligence
in half this human race.
We are still so neolithic
in this nanotechnic age.
Still, the Sea preserves her shoreline,
...for the women of the page.

(another stanza deals with what you call vulgar libertarianism.)

- Aster

August 01, 2006 8:51 PM  
Blogger quasibill said...

To me, these are better arguments against having a "career," instead of having a "job." If you live your life so that the loss of your current job isn't such a big deal, then you are much more free.

It's very dangerous, although common, to tie your identity to your job. It's another aspect of "professionalization".

August 02, 2006 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Autocrat and Lady Aster,

I like both the poems. There's another good one I got (of all places) out of a Tom Peters book by a UAW member on the transformation of responsible grownups, used to making decisions, into infants upon entering the factory gates.

Duncan,

I agree that a lot of his specific proposals sound like scamming from my perspective (especially royalties that depend on IP), which is why I didn't include them in the post. On the other hand, some, like ad revenue, might be legitimate.

quasibill,

That's certainly how I view my job.

But you'd be amazed at the number of people who express moral outrage at anyone working in patient care at a hospital who's "just in it for the money," and doesn't feel an obligation to be there for the sake of the patients even when they don't want to be. I'm not just talking about managers who feign such outrage for manipulative reasons. I'm talking about ordinary workers who are duped by such manipulative bullshit.

I know some good-hearted nurses who feel obligated to compensate for understaffing to fill in on orderly work, catch up on their charting after the end of the shift, and then stay to fill in the gap for the next shift when it's understaffed--sixteen hours all told--"for the patients."

I assured them that the people who decided to let staffing go down by attrition, and set the authorized staffing levels as low as humanly possible, were at home getting a good night's sleep.

My attitude, which I've expressed more than once to such coworkers, is that I'm only responsible for seeing that patients are taken care of at the times I've agreed to be there. If staffing isn't covered when it's time for me to go home, it's because somebody who's paid a hell of a lot more money than I'll ever make has fucked up. Until I own stock in the place or management is otherwise responsible to me for the half-assed way they run the place, I ABSOLUTELY refuse to be held responsible for it, or make it some sort of focus of my life. PERIOD. It's just some shit I have to do to be able to pay the bills out in my real life, where I'm in control of things.

August 02, 2006 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin,

This attitude you have concerning the use of your own time is interesting. Aside from the obvious manipulative motives of bosses who say that sort of stuff, I've noticed that a lot of other socialist/anarchist types seem to hold something similar. I guess we can call it the "I'm here for the money" attitude. Underlying it seems to be the belief that the essence of human social interaction is not something that can be achieved in a capitalist workforce, but rather has to be attained in a context where the individual is free, confident, and independent.

August 02, 2006 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly, Anon. I'd be a lot more inclined to identify personally with my job if I had some say over how I organized my time or the resources I had to work with; and I'd be a lot more inclined to put out extra effort, in response to deliberate understaffing or management incompetence in foreseeing shortages, if I were paid according to the patient load. But I'm fucking sick of getting ready to leave and being expected to fill a gap in the schedule that's been right there in black and white for weeks, and having the charge nurse look at me like I killed Baby Jesus when I go ahead and leave. Management deliberately sets the staffing levels so they can just barely scrape by if the census doesn't go up significantly, and nobody gets sick. If anybody calls in, it's an almighty clusterfuck. And most of the time, they're understaffed not because somebody called in, but because that's the way management planned the schedule in the first place.

And if I went the extra mile and made the sacrifices they expect, they'd still cut me loose in a New York second the minute they thought I might cost them a plug nickel.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the same person who's been identifying the recent targets for downsizing is the same one in charge of implementing the Fish! Philosophy program. In other words, she's in charge both of bending us over the desk and making us like it.

As somebody said, they want workers that are both dependable and disposable.

August 02, 2006 5:46 PM  
Anonymous anon4now said...

kevin:

Yes, sometimes part of the problem is how much (non-management) workers buy into it. I recently heard a non-management employee make a formal complaint to management, that one of the things that was wrong with my company is that people do not love thier jobs enough to work (unpaid - we're salaried) overtime!! Good grief, I thought, and here I was enjoying the fact that management seldom required it, and thinking it was one of the positive aspects of my job!! Such people don't need to be exploited, they line up begging for a little exploition and some more unpaid overtime pretty please.

Maybe I'm just in the wrong career (believe me I consider such changes) but I don't have the intrinsic motivation to want to work unpaid overtime in my job. Like anonymous said, I'm in it for the money.

August 02, 2006 8:26 PM  
Anonymous anon4now said...

I just read this lovely little piece, which serves as both propaganda (be afraid, be very afraid!) and perhaps a telling of disturbing truths:
http://tinyurl.com/fzax2

Oh the horrors of own-life, where people go to the beach on sick days (really who hasn't taken a um mental health day?), and talk and about and maybe even have sex.

August 02, 2006 9:59 PM  
Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Yeah, anon4now, that's scary all right. It confirms what I feared about web searches being increasingly SOP for HR Nazis.

Interesting that HR departments are combining such practices with internal surveillance and personality profiling of existing employees, at the same time the government's tightening the screws on private mailbox companies and making it harder for anyone to live anonymously without a fixed address. It's like the big institutions that rule this society want to know exactly where we are and what we're doing AT ALL TIMES. Makes sense, though. It's only natural to want to keep track of your property.

August 02, 2006 11:38 PM  
Anonymous Jethro Tull said...

Wow, I was recently terminated from my job in mental health care because I stood up for myself in a staff meeting and made my boss uncomfortable. How'd they get rid of me? They found my blog and twisted a few things our of context.

I could simply bitch and whine all day about being understaffed, soulless corporate stooges, and the revolving door of psychiatic "care." but I won't.

But I am looking into alternative forms of income...ebay looks promising.

August 08, 2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger T K Wilson said...

Re; MSN job search, info privacy, etc.

This shit is only problematic if you don't have the will or ability to live as you please.
I know i's probably not possible to do that in every detail
(unless you like not having friends or lovers or whatever in your life) but still, if any of this is ever going to happen people need to live like their own time meant something to them.
It's the only damn thing you really do own (which is why prison is such a pain in the ass).

September 10, 2006 3:35 PM  

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