David Graeber on modern jobs

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jacob
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David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:02 pm

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/m ... a-of-rules
http://strikemag.org/bullshit-jobs/

Also the guy behind "We are the 99%" and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debt:_The_First_5000_Years

I figured some of you might relate. Warning: Seriously demotivating.

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by theanimal » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:12 pm


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Ego
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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by Ego » Thu Apr 23, 2015 10:44 pm

He quotes with approval the anarchist collective Crimethinc: “Putting yourself in new situations constantly is the only way to ensure that you make your decisions unencumbered by the nature of habit, law, custom or prejudice – and it’s up to you to create the situations.”
Hum
Just before he finishes his dinner, Graeber tells me about the new idea he’s toying with. “It’s about the play principle in nature. Usually, he argues, we project agency to nature insofar as there is some kind of economic interest. Hence, for instance, Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene. I begin to understand the idea better– it’s an anarchist theory of organisation starting with insects and animals and proceeding to humans. He is suggesting that, instead of being rule-following economic drones of capitalism, we are essentially playful. The most basic level of being is play rather than economics, fun rather than rules, goofing around rather than filling in forms.
Double hum.

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by Chad » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:36 am

The Strike magazine article is a fun read.

Having worked in both small (50 people or less) and large (Fortune 500) companies, along with doing consulting for the government, I definitely agree with Graeber that bureaucracy is by no means limited to government. Many of the companies I have worked for had far easier missions than the government agencies I have worked for and have just as much bureaucracy.

The vast majority of jobs are useless, which has been most of my career:

Auditor? Auditors don't spend enough time at any company to really know if there are issues deep down. They will catch a few glaring things, but rarely anything serious. Plus, they are paid by the very people they are supposed to police. :roll:

Accountant? The very basics of accounting are productive. These artificial rules do help us track complicated financial processes. Of course, we couldn't leave well enough alone. We invented governing councils of accounting rules and those councils are populated by people who have specialized for 50 years in only ACCOUNTING! Thoroughly enjoyable people to be around. They assume, they and the overall council, were created for a reason, so they insist on constantly adding rules and changing them for no real benefit. FASB bastards!

Consultant? Please...

Coach? It's was at least fun some of the time and had some minor impact on the lives of a few younger people. Of course, as any good human in the US does they managed to F.. it up. Nothing is fun if you are doing it 80 hours a week, with at least 40 of those hours being wasted.

Some recent stupidity:

Kansas tries to restrict welfare:
http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStor ... s-30355445
They took something they dislike, because it costs money and is a bureaucracy, and made it more expensive to implement and added bureaucracy? WTF?

Kansas made massive tax cuts:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/beltway/201 ... t-do-math/
Of course, the decreased tax revenue impacts education and infrastructure, not the useless jobs:
http://www.newrepublic.com/article/1210 ... -more-cuts

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by oldbeyond » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:45 am

This sprawling, omnipresent bureaucracy on the macro level is perhaps simply the result of the workings of the gervais principle on the micro level?

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by theanimal » Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:31 am

Ego wrote:
Just before he finishes his dinner, Graeber tells me about the new idea he’s toying with. “It’s about the play principle in nature. Usually, he argues, we project agency to nature insofar as there is some kind of economic interest. Hence, for instance, Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene. I begin to understand the idea better– it’s an anarchist theory of organisation starting with insects and animals and proceeding to humans. He is suggesting that, instead of being rule-following economic drones of capitalism, we are essentially playful. The most basic level of being is play rather than economics, fun rather than rules, goofing around rather than filling in forms.
Double hum.
I found that interesting as well. I've read a lot on wolves and they were the first thing I thought of when I read that. Wolves are constantly playing.

I was trying to think of whether there is any historical basis (with humans) for this by examining the hunter-gatherers. Their life was full of play through the large period of time they spent sharing stories, making art, music and related material. The hunting/gathering aspect stopped me because I saw that as serious. On the other hand, I'm currently reading a book on wildlife tracking by someone who's learned extensively from elders from native cultures and raised a litter of wolf pups. I came across this passage this morning.
One day when the pups were about half grown, we were out in a field hunting Meadow Voles. "Quit playing," I scolded them jokingly. Right then it hit me: the hunt is a game, so playing games is serious business because it is training for the hunt. No wonder they gave their all to play, and no wonder that even in the heat of sport they kept attuned to the song of the track.
(emphasis his)

Song, Tamarack Entering the Mind of the Tracker 2013 pg. 12

The play principle makes sense to me.

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by Ego » Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:10 am

theanimal wrote: I was trying to think of whether there is any historical basis for this by examining the hunter-gatherers. There life was full of play with lots of time spent for stories, art, music and related material. The hunting/gathering aspect stopped me because I saw that as serious.
Play used to be almost entirely unstructured. Today it is almost entirely structured. Kids used to learn in the same way those wolves learned, and what we learned by unstructured play was...
...the freedom to self-govern, create rules, problem-solve and resolve social conflicts on (our) own terms.
Structured play, on the other hand...
tend(s) to replicate hierarchical and militaristic models aimed at obedience, replication, adherence to authority, and a number of other qualities that, on a theoretical level, would be unlikely to be conducive to creative development.
This is one of the distinctions Graeber makes at the end of his book, The Utopia of Rules.

http://qz.com/317570/making-your-kid-pl ... reativity/

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by luxagraf » Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:09 pm

Ego wrote:Play used to be almost entirely unstructured. Today it is almost entirely structured. Kids used to learn in the same way those wolves learned, and what we learned by unstructured play was...
...the freedom to self-govern, create rules, problem-solve and resolve social conflicts on (our) own terms.
It's possible I first heard of this book on these forums, but this reminds me a lot of Paul Shepard's Nature and Madness, which I highly recommend if you're interested in the sort of human ecological history of how we got here sort of thing.

http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Madness-Pa ... 0820319805

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by suomalainen » Tue May 15, 2018 2:54 pm

Anyone read Graeber's new book on Bullshit Jobs that was apparently an extension of the article linked above? Any reviews? I read his Debt: First 5000 Years and thought it was pretty good. Haven't read the Utopia one, but the two seem linked.

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Re: David Graeber on modern jobs

Post by Smashter » Sun May 20, 2018 4:00 pm

I read Tyler Cowen's short review. He thinks Graeber wildly underestimates the complexity needed to run modern organizations. He defends the abundance of HR and PR folks. My guess is that, as usual, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginal ... heory.html

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