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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

Monday, October 31, 2005

Some Good Reviews of How to Kill the Job Culture

By Wally Conger:

I wish Claire Wolfe had written her new motivational how-to book How to Kill the Job Culture Before it Kills You: Living a Life of Autonomy in a Wage-Slave Society sometime during my 16-year servitude to Corporate America. I might have saved myself a few years of the suit-and-tie routine, unproductive business meetings, back-stabbing politics, and daily two-hour roundtrip commutes to downtown L.A. But since I did eventually cut loose from what Claire calls the Job Culture by my own arduous methods, let me say that the advice she offers is top-notch. If you’re now a “wage slave,” this book will save you a lot of time planning your escape.

What makes How to Kill the Job Culture especially important is its role as a first-rate primer on the Left Libertarian (i.e., radical free-market) case against state-corporate capitalism....

Claire admits there are substantial distinctions between big government and big business, not the least of which being that we’re compelled to live under the coercive State but deal with big business voluntarily for the most part.

But Wally goes on to quote this passage:

Big, all-controlling government and the large institutions of the Industrial Revolution were born together, from the same roots, for many of the same purposes — to regiment, centralize, homogenize, and control. To succeed in their purposes, both needed to turn a population of rowdy, diverse individuals into a compliant, largely robotic, mass. And — it’s horrible, but undeniable — big government and big corporate institutions were created side-by-side as two facets of one increasingly formidable war-making machine.

It didn’t ‘just happen’ that two allegedly diverse institutions came together for the same purpose at the same time. And it doesn’t ‘just happen’ today that those same institutions continue to reinforce each other in war and peace.

So it really isn't accurate to say we deal with big business "voluntarily for the most part." We make a "voluntary" choice among a range of alternatives that is artificially limited by the state, in collusion with big business.

And by Sunni Maravillosa:

Beginning with a brief, critical examination of the Industrial Revolution, Wolfe documents the creation of the job culture and the concomitant shifts in supporting oneself. She's at her best in this first part of the tri-section book, addressing the problems a job culture creates and chiding many free-market advocates for being too uncritical of business and today's markets (that are anything but free) in general.

Sunni makes one observation that I disagree with:

The only other substantial quibble I have with How to Kill the Job Culture Before It Kills You is a subtle thing that many readers probably won't notice; in describing shifts in work environments and relationships Wolfe often asserts that individuals were forced to do certain things, or to give up others.... While it's true that they may not have fully understood what they were giving up in taking the jobs they did, outside of true slave labor individuals did have the choice of trying to secure employment in a factory, or to stay with a specific job under changing conditions. To characterize voluntary choices as forced adopts a victim mentality that is probably inaccurate, somewhat hyperbolic, and undermines the shift to greater self-reliance that Wolfe is advocating.

As I mentioned above, that begs the question of whether they were voluntary choices. When you make a "voluntary" choice between a set of alternatives that is artificially limited by the state, and--surprise, surprise, surprise!--employers just happen to have played the major role in setting the state policy that limits those alternatives, the terms "force" and "coercion" are right on the mark.

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