Monday, November 12, 2018

I Hate Working

What a terrible thing to say! What an awful thing to admit about myself! What does that say about me? I must be selfish, lazy, a freeloader, a leech. I must expect everyone else to work and take care of me. I must be a drain on my loved ones and society. I must be a pathetic loser who doesn't deserve to live comfortably. Maybe I don't deserve to live.

Is that what that means?

One thing about the U.S. that makes it different (note: different does not mean good) from other countries is a specific history we have around the idea of "work ethic." It's a very Protestant attitude that got all mixed up in the worship of independence created by the whole """new frontier""" thing that was of course bullshit because guess what there were already people here. You could write an entire book on the unique culture of the U.S. and of course plenty of people already have.

My point here is that the U.S. "work ethic" ethos has resulted in a culture in which not wanting to work or disliking work in general is considered a massive and unforgivable character flaw. So unforgivable, in fact, that those who don't want to work are better off dead.

This is also a feature of capitalism. It has to be, because in order for a privileged few to keep making more and more money, everybody below them must engage in labor. The idea of "work ethic" is therefore strong in every capitalist country, but I think it can be argued that it's even stronger in the U.S.

What does this do to people who legitimately don't enjoy working?

Let's try this. What would you do if you didn't have to work? If you had all the money in the world or we lived in fully automated luxury communism and money didn't even exist, what would you do?

The answer is usually that people would work. Not that they would stay at their jobs and change nothing. But most, possibly nearly all people respond with dreams of working fewer hours, changing the nature of their job, starting their own business so they can work for themselves, or maybe switching to another industry but still working. Some people would do only charity work, but that's still work. Some would just stay home with the kids, but that's still work. Some would quit their jobs and write a novel, but trust me, that is some work.

Planting a garden is work. Learning a new skill is work. Even blogging is technically work, you assholes.

Very few would say that they would lie around all day every day watching TV and playing video games. Some might say that they would just travel the world and party all the time, but eventually even the most radical of dudes will get tired of that. But even if they don't, is there something so terrible about someone who wants to go from place to place meeting new people and bringing joy and merriment everywhere they go?

If I didn't have to worry about money for another second of my life, I would still write. I would write in this blog just like I do now, maybe more, maybe not. Maybe I would do more cold pitching to other outlets, maybe not. Nothing in this world could ever stop me from writing about issues of injustice. And that is work.

I think I would also volunteer, and at least some of that volunteer time would be with kitties. Kitties! And I think I would try many things, like hiking, maybe gardening, maybe take cooking classes. There is a possibility that the first few weeks or even months I would play a fuck ton of video games. There are just so many I would like to go back and play again. But I know myself, and I know that if I don't get out and do something every now and again, I will get depressed.

So the truth is that I love working. What I hate is the constant crushing pressure of having to sell my labor to keep myself alive. I hate that I don't have a choice. I can sell my labor for too little pay or I can lose my shelter and live homeless on cold, damp, dangerous streets, begging and living from meal to meal in misery.

That's not what I call a choice, anyway.

I've tried many forms of employment and I always come to hate them. I hate retail. I hate customer service. I hate office jobs. And though there are things about freelancing that are much better than other forms of money making, I still hate that I have to constantly worry about money. Every pitch is laced with the fear and doubt that I'll never be able to make freelance writing into a goddamn career, that I'm not good enough, and that I'll have to get some miserable job at some miserable company in order to keep living.

It often feels like I can't find happiness in a world like this. I can't tell you the number of times I've felt like there is something fundamentally wrong with me because every job makes me miserable. Sometimes to the point of feeling suicidal. In a society that tells us anyone who doesn't work is a bad person, being unable to find any joy in our capitalist hell version of "work" to the point that staying at any job long enough makes you want to die can leave you feeling utterly broken.

And it feels like happiness and life satisfaction are out of reach.

So that's the truth. I hate working. I hate being forced to write for money. I hate being forced to do anything under threat of homelessness and early death. I hate being threatened with homelessness and early death in general. And yet, in spite of everything I just explained right up there, capitalists will still say that I'm a bad person for even admitting to hating this system, that I'm just a lazy moocher who wants to get out of contributing to society (as they fight against every effort to raise taxes).

What I really want is to create a society where no one has to worry about losing their access to basic needs like food, water, and shelter. Where people can just live. Where people can choose their work based on their passions, do as much or as little as they want, and be happy. I wouldn't just want it for me. We could all have this. We just have to decide to create it.

It doesn't feel like that should make me a bad person.

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