If I was as witty as Jennifer Matusi’s article Abolish All Work Immediately from Counterpunch then I’d remark that my nosebleed that I got after finishing this article (for the second time) was from the article and not from picking at my (congested) nose.
But no one is apparently as witty as Matusi as they make abundantly clear throughout this article:
Hang around the office crowd long enough and someone is sure to tell you that “jobs are obsolete”. They’ll tell you it’s the “work” that matters in that tone of voice meant to elicit wonder from a three year old grappling with his first paradox in the hope of one day giving a TED talk about ‘Grappling with Paradoxes’.
It’s work with a capital ‘W’ that will eventually yield a self-driving minivan that runs on gluten. It’s work without the actual worker that will “make the world a better place” . . . for the people who are busy destroying it one TED talk at a time.
It’s ‘work’ carried out by everybody except the worker, because workers, after all, cost more than the visionaries and geniuses who tend to live with their parents in upscale communities and can afford to think up ways to deal with the the world’s unwanted gluten supplies, while strapped into the car seat of their mom’s minivan.
And that friends, is just the first paragraph.
Yes, I don’t usually go out of my way to lambast articles but this one deserves it and then some. Never have I read such a mean-spirited attempt at trying to be funny since Jackass and this has at least half of Jackass‘s entertainment value.
Throughout this article there is nothing but non-stop vilifying, antagonizing and uncharitably interpreting everyone and anyone’s opinions left and right. Possibly the most offensive thing about this article is that it just lacks complete and utter focus for such an obviously fiery piece.
This article is analogous to a forest fire in that it destroys everything it targets but with little sense of purpose, direction or meaning. It isn’t compelling, interesting or cute and it’s in fact an insult to anti-work ideology. And given that insult was something I had to endure twice over to write this article, I’m gonna make it worth it.
There’s no clear example of who Matsui is constantly referring to. She only speaks of people in what they are artificially interested in, associate with or (ironically) what they do for a job.
Consider these sorts of passages:
Jobs, those ‘think-outside-the-box’ dipshits will tell you, are “soooo last century” when you consider the unwieldy and oppressive administrative aspects that are crippling enterprise and stifling creativity.
Thus you’ll be hard pressed to meet anyone who isn’t a filmmaker, IT consultant, or “poet”. Tell people what you actually do for money and they’ll react as if you said “I kill surplus baby animals at a petting zoo with my own bare hands” or “I shoot ping pong balls out of my hoohoo in exchange for tequila shots” – as if that’s somehow worse than “leading a global team of market analysts for a European bank”.
Jobs, with their lack of “fluidity” are for old timey, non-robotic dock workers and other “losers” who eat donuts and hide their inefficiency behind labor unions. Work, on the other hand, is for people who eat ‘cronuts’ and conceal their venality and ineptitude behind inspirational quotes. It allows a “kreator” like Kylie Jenner to mass market lip liner for tweens whose parents live on food stamps, using the money her own mother scored from a sibling’s sex tape.
And so on and so fucking forth.
This article goes on and on and on and on and on (and on and on) like this. Insulting everyone at every turn who dares disagree with Matusi’s ridiculous obscurantist dichotomy between “work” and “jobs” which she gives us very few reasons to actually accept to begin with. That’s another infuriating part about this: Matsui’s arguments aren’t arguments, they’re more like extended insults in the place of arguments.
Even the few smirks or small laughter I got from a line or two don’t really match to…whatever Matsui was trying to accomplish. For every 100 lines of “comedy” they were trying to write, 98 of them fell flat. And that’s the thing: I’m not even sure if they were going for comedy or if they were just trying to be as mean-spirited as possible. The fact that I can barely tell what is supposed to be funny and what’s supposed to be harsh probably isn’t the sign of good writing either.
Moreover we know nothing about Matsui from this article or why they feel the way they do. Has someone wronged them to carve such huge distinctions between work and jobs? I certainly understand wanting to draw distinctions between the two terms and have nothing against that per se’. But the pure amount of effort, time and venom that Matsui puts into this piece to do so just seems completely unnecessary not to mention unpersuasive.
Let’s look at something I can almost sympathize with:
Jobs, with their lack of “fluidity” are for old timey, non-robotic dock workers and other “losers” who eat donuts and hide their inefficiency behind labor unions.
The first 6 words are great! Jobs are certainly lacking fluidity but…wait…wasn’t Matsui defending jobs earlier because of their guarantee of income? And since when was that the case anyhow? And in the next passage Matsui compliments “work” but seems to do so in a very sarcastic way…but it’s difficult to tell.
This is the next thing wrong with this piece: It’s confusing as hell.
I’ve read it twice (and much too closely for my liking) and it still baffles me exactly what Matsui is getting at. Do they hate work? Do they hate jobs? Both? Neither? It depends? Why? When are they being sarcastic and when are they not? It’s legitimately hard to tell! And I’ll “admit” that my aspergers may get in the way of reading sarcasm online but the whole piece reads like a confusing and fragile mess of interwoven sarcasm and post-irony sludge.
In short? I’m basically ashamed of Counterpunch for running this piece.
They run good pieces, hell they recently ran a piece by me that was published at C4SS originally. But this piece is absolutely irredeemable on all fronts. It’s unpleasant to read, it’s confusing to read, it’s insulting to read and witness and more generally it’s just a poor piece of writing that I think didn’t deserve to see the light of day.
The only passage of any sort of merit is (appropriately enough) the last one:
Having jobs that didn’t demand too much work is why the French excelled at philosophy, sex and gastronomy, and why their more “industrious” counterparts in the US excel at violence, porn and obesity. For the sake of the economy, we must all demand jobs that require not too much work – jobs that free us up to rethink a system that would sooner crack open our skulls with a police truncheon than allow us to just do our jobs without all the bullshit ‘work’.
Better yet, why force anyone into a job if he/she is better suited to not working in a Poundland outlet in the outskirts of Manchester, unloading merchandise in a warehouse while tethered to life support oxygen tent in exchange for ‘benefits’. (Yes, England, I’m talking to you!)
Or as Buckminster Fuller famously said before he was mercifully spared the sermons about “following your passion” by the Business Guru sect of late Capitalism:
“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
Here Matsui finally drops with the sneer (mostly…) and tells us how she really feels and without being a jerk about it.
And I guess this half-way decent conclusion would be nice if the rest of the article didn’t pretty much suck the life out of it by blurring the distinctions of “work” and “job” through over-personalizing everything. As I said, Matsui doesn’t seem to speak in particulars, specifics, individuals or organizations that are saying the things she’s responding to. So that makes it difficult to see what exactly she is getting at and who is exactly disagreeing with her in any concrete sense.
Instead, she responds by caricaturing anyone who she deems worthy of being involved in this lurid piece.
I don’t recommend reading this piece and if you even read as much as I gave you then congratulations, you have a fine constitution for what is ahead for you in this poor excuse of a thing we call Life.
Damn congested noses.