(Nick’s Notes: You can find the original post here)
It’s Labor Day weekend, the national holiday created in 1887 to pacify American workers then being suppressed and killed by U.S. marshals and soldiers. So there’s probably no better time for me to re-examine my dogeared copy of Claire Wolfe’s manifesto How to Kill the Job Culture Before it Kills You: Living a Life of Autonomy in a Wage-Slave Society.
When this book was published by the late Loompanics Unlimited a decade ago, I remarked how I wished it had appeared sometime during my 16-year stretch in Corporate America. It might have saved me a few years of suit-and-tie dress codes, unproductive business meetings, back-stabbing politics, and daily two-hour round-trip commutes to downtown Los Angeles. Its advice on how to plan an escape from the rat race was, and still is, top-notch.
But what made How to Kill the Job Culture especially important was the role it played as a first-rate primer on the radical free-market case against state-corporate capitalism. In a chapter titled “The Free-Market Case Against Jobs,” Wolfe wrote:
“Submission to the endless rules of institutions is the same, whether those institutions are run from boardrooms or bureaucratic agencies. Obedience to authority is obedience to authority, no matter which authority we choose to bow before. Surrendering self-ownership is surrendering self-ownership, whether you give yourself up to Global MegaCorp, Inc. or surrender your authority over your life to Rule No. 762.32(A)(1)(b) of Federal Agency XYZ.”
Wolfe admitted 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 she argued simply and directly that…
“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.”
The Job Culture, Wolfe asserted, weakens our free will. It instills in us an irresponsible “someone else will deal with it” mentality. Thomas Jefferson, she pointed out, distrusted not only big government and organized religion but also what he called the “pseudo aristoi” — wealthy, powerful individuals who made up the privileged business establishment. Wrote Wolfe:
“The person who spends the majority of her years as … a cog in a work wheel doesn’t have to go far at all to become a cog-in-the-wheel ‘good citizen,’ loyal to and dependent upon the largess and authority of the state, rather than on the principles of liberty.”
So how do we, as individuals, kill the Job Culture, fashion our own work environments, and ultimately shrug off the Corporate Welfare-Warfare State?
It’s unfortunate that Claire Wolfe’s How to Kill the Job Culture, which answers that question so well, is now long out of print. But used copies can be found online, and I’d urge you to seek one out. I think it’s must-reading for those living both inside and outside the Job Culture.
By the way, I’m sending the author a link to this essay. I hope it will stir her to find the book a new publisher. Maybe she’ll even feel compelled to update it, although I don’t think updates are at all necessary.