At work today people had a meeting about a future meeting where the new management structure is to be rolled out including a new member of staff who will be responsible for corporate transparency. When I pointed out the Kafakaesque internal bureaucracy and the fact that if my employer actually wanted to be transparent then they wouldn’t roll these things out to a small clique of people interested in their own fiefdoms which means they make their jobs worthwhile, and therefore essential, even though really, they don’t do anything.
This is the phenomenon of ‘bullshit jobs’. Jobs created by companies that don’t actually do anything but add another lair of management, bureaucracy or general bullshit to the day-to-day operation of a business. These jobs often have no point or function but to give someone something to do that really isn’t worthwhile in any shape, form or function. So when this afternoon I saw an interview in Vice with David Graeber, an academic (and also an anarchist) and the author of the rather good The Democracy Project and the man that made the phrase ”bullshit jobs” one that lept into the public domain.
Graeber’s main point is ”that we’re trapped in jobs created by the ruling classes to feed into their debt extraction schemes”. Jobs are created so people can be fleeced for profit by employers or even higher up the food chain. It’s an idea I tend to agree with as people around me every day do jobs where they’re simply putting figures into spreadsheets nobody is going to look at but need to be done because that’s what’s done. If they stopped their ‘work’ for a day it’d mean very little as ultimately they can be easily replaced so people become interchangeable which means they lose self worth, and that means people live only for the few times they can cut loose or even attempt to be themselves. Few can articulate their problems because thanks to the daily grind, they’re more taken up by the daily struggle for survival.
Now people can do these jobs and work hard, but it’s ultimately worthless work that wouldn’t have made people gain a seat on the B Ark, and there’s the problem. People know either deep down that their job is worthless and bullshit, or they try to keep their feelings of pointlessness suppressed as otherwise they’d be reaching for the revolver. These aren’t teachers, nurses, scientists, doctors or anything that society needs or makes the world a better place, but these are jobs the private sector creates to make it seem like they’re creating employment, when in fact, they’re only helping people exist rather than live. It’s depressing but this is neoliberalism in action so we’re faced with a choice come the general election in May of supporting the neoliberal consensus or perhaps rocking the boat enough to perhaps start something new so that in a decade people can do jobs that aren’t just there so people can feel better not just about their jobs, but their entire lives.