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As so many people face unemployment and uncertainty, many are also asking: how did it get to be this bad? Instead of only scrambling for jobs - which many no doubt have to do in this time anyway - can we also take the time to reflect on the role of work and its function in our lives? How did we get entrenched in this insidious wage-labor relationship, where we are servants to that most repulsive of phrases, "making a living." We have a living, we have lives, how dare tis relationship between wages and labor overlay itself onto life and pretend it is life?
To talk about all of this, I invited political theorist, feminist, author, and philosopher Kathi Weeks onto the show. Kathi is the author of two short but profound books: The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries and Constituting Feminist Subjects. The former elucidates the entire anti-work ethos from a Marxist feminist perspective, and uses a tactic to dismantle the crazed attachment we have to a "work ethic": utopia. What if we employed utopia as a tactic against work to open new ways forward. And the latter shows how we can find solidarity and generate new tactics that we learn from our differing standpoints.
This is a great anti-work, pro-utopia episode, friends.
ON THIS EPISODE
- The way a "sick day" enforces an identity
- The problem of "just do what you love"
- The problem with (sex work is) work
- Making sure we critique work without dragging everything into class reductionism
- How post-work politics come from work
- The uses of utopia (and where Kathi and I limit our ideas of utopia)
- Why the demand to know the future is counterrevolutionary
- Living in a time of critique without proposition
- The promise and pitfalls of universal basic income (UBI)
• For more on Kathi, here's her great essay, "Down with Love," on how our views of love inform our views of work; here's Kathi's spirited defense of universal basic income as a PDF; and you can watch her on a panel with AEWCH 120 guest Michael Hardt, Peter Frase, and Charles Mudede here.
• For more on postwork and anti-work action/theory, well, I've talked a whole lot about it on the show, and from many different angles: including talking about idleness AEWCH 89 with philosopher Brian O'Connor, a solo episode - AEWCH 85 - Abolish Work," AEWCH 83 with Franco Bifo Berardi, AEWCH 69 with Sovereign Syre and Dr. Heather Berg, and briefly on AEWCH 99 with the late and great David Graeber.
• For some reason, Miya Tokumistu's book, Do What You Love and Other Lies About Success And Happiness is not on bookshop.org, so I've linked to it here for you. And here's her article, "The United States of Work."
• For more on lines of flight, check out the work of Felix Guattari (pictured below), particularly the book entitles, aptly for your purposes - Lines of Flight.
• Here's a short essay on the Wages for Housework campaign in the Nation. And Sylvia Federici's great (but also for me challenging) quote is, "We want to call work what is work so that eventually we might rediscover what is love.”
• For more on problems with the family, check out AEWCH106 with Sophie Lewis!
• Here's my essay on anti-work/sex work with Heather Berg, "The Problem with Sex Work is Work." And here's my introductory essay to utopianist Charles Fourier.
• I love Kathi's quote here - "The utopian practice is...a practice of expanding time."
• A great Wittgenstein quote about the future: "When we think of the world’s future, we always mean the destination it will reach if it keeps going in the direction we can see it going in now; it does not occur to us that its path is not a straight line but a curve, constantly changing direction.”
• For more on prison abolition, you can't do much better than following Mariame Kaba on twitter and checking into the resources she shares.
Until next time, friends,
Don't work too hard!