Notes From The Shopfloor 5: The Will At Work

‘Work, work, proletarians, to increase social wealth and your individual poverty; work, work, in order that becoming poorer, you may have more reason to work and become miserable. Such is the inexorable law of capitalist production.’ Paul Lafargue, The Right To Be Lazy (written in prison, 1883). never work

Work is annoying for a great many reasons, the main one being its necessity. In this capitalist society we need food, shelter and utilities which cost money so unless we are inheritors of considerable wealth, a decent windfall or sheer luck, we sell our labour power to employers in return for a wage. This swiftly passes through our hands and pockets to landlords (both kinds), large corporations, local government, banks and other parasites.

With casual work we know there are things that we would much rather be doing and it is this conflict of necessity over desire that conflicts with the will. With casual work, there is always what we should be doing and what we could be doing. For the casual worker the frustration is doubled: not only are we financially dependent on casual work, it is not even work we want to do. Most casuals work the short-term job because the job they would rather be doing is not available so it is inevitable that some get bored and give up or find something that they would rather do than this.

It is our will, our inner drive, that represents what we ‘really’ want to do, that is what we consider our ‘real self.’ The successes and failures of realising our will, with the many socio-economic factors militating against it, are represented in our minds, bodies, language, relationship and material circumstances. The successful ‘businessman’ looks like a successful ‘businessman’ because he is surrounded by all the indicators of the accumulation of wealth. Casual workers look like casual workers because they are skint. The distance we feel between the ‘real self’ and the actuality of being a disappointed casual worker is a further alienation but from ourselves.

The nature of work has obviously changed with full time, part time, permanent or temporary workers, sub-contractors, casuals, agency workers, zero hours contracts, the increase in unpaid ‘internships’ and people being forced into crap jobs by the DSS or by ATOS who are charged with the reification of genuine disability and need into abstract quotas and percentages. We can polish our CVs, write endless applications, prepare for unfulfilling interviews, or read books like ‘Dress Your Way To A Job!’ The will is frustrated by knowing what we want to do and not being able to do it, either because the jobs are simply not there, our skills are outmoded or we are not being realistic. There is what we want and what we get and this is a further alienation from ourselves.

But all this is effectively at an end now as the short term contract proved to be shorter than expected after I damaged my hand throwing parcels into dumpsters (2 badly bruised knuckle, strained extensor muscle). There is obviously no sick pay and it was my fault  so it’s back to the DSS which is going to be fun just before Christmas! Happy Holidays To All! 

fuck work

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About malatesta32

Malatesta, undercover anti-fascist blogger, has analyzed the changing fortunes of the British far right since 2009. He has written for the anarchist magazine Freedom and the book, Militant Anti-Fascism: 100 Years Of Resistance (AK Press 2015). http://www.akuk.com/index.php?_a=product&product_id=7285
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