LCC Bull Shit by David Graeber Book Analysis

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First choose one book to report on; read the book and allow potential questions to arise in your mind as you read..identify the page & paragraph that triggered your inquiry (if using Kindle or some version of book with no page #’s just cite a sentence in the reading that prompted your question). You need 20 questions with reference for each. No definitions (Look it up!). Eliminate questions already resolved. Ask questions you really want to ask. Second: vocabulary…define 15 economics or business terms that appear in the reading. You can use text to define or any technical website that features economic or business terms. Avoid ask.com You might want to Google for possible websites. As you know the internet is changing all the time. Third part of assignment is to select a significant paragraph that you think is important…write it out and cite location; Finally, Do a chapter by chapter breakdown of main points per chapter…If you just lump it together without chapter by chapter format you lose points. Word count for this section is minimum 325 words and maximum 625 words. Students should demonstrate creative & critical thinking skills in overview of book content. Neatness, spelling, punctuation, punctuality, balanced presentation of views, quality of insight, ability to communicate ideas effectively and succinctly will considered in the grading process.

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Contents
Preface: On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs
Chapter 1
What Is a Bullshit Job?
Why a Mafia Hit Man Is Not a Good Example of a Bullshit Job | On the Importance of the Subjective
Element, and Also, Why It Can Be Assumed That Those Who Believe They Have Bullshit Jobs Are
Generally Correct | On the Common Misconception That Bullshit Jobs Are Confined Largely to the Public
Sector | Why Hairdressers Are a Poor Example of a Bullshit Job | On the Difference Between Partly Bullshit
Jobs, Mostly Bullshit Jobs, and Purely and Entirely Bullshit Jobs
Chapter 2
What Sorts of Bullshit Jobs Are There?
The Five Major Varieties of Bullshit Jobs | 1. What Flunkies Do | 2. What Goons Do | 3. What Duct Tapers
Do | 4. What Box Tickers Do | 5. What Taskmasters Do | On Complex Multiform Bullshit Jobs | A Word on
Second-Order Bullshit Jobs | A Final Note, with a Brief Return to the Question: Is It Possible to Have a
Bullshit Job and Not Know It?
Chapter 3
Why Do Those in Bullshit Jobs Regularly Report Themselves
Unhappy?
(On Spiritual Violence, Part 1)
About One Young Man Apparently Handed a Sinecure Who Nonetheless Found Himself Unable to Handle
the Situation | Concerning the Experience of Falseness and Purposelessness at the Core of Bullshit Jobs, and
the Importance Now Felt of Conveying the Experience of Falseness and Purposelessness to Youth | Why
Many of Our Fundamental Assumptions on Human Motivation Appear to Be Incorrect | A Brief Excursus
on the History of Make-Work, and Particularly of the Concept of Buying Other People’s Time | Concerning
the Clash Between the Morality of Time and Natural Work Rhythms, and the Resentment It Creates
Chapter 4
What Is It Like to Have a Bullshit Job?
(On Spiritual Violence, Part 2)
Why Having a Bullshit Job Is Not Always Necessarily That Bad | On the Misery of Ambiguity and Forced
Pretense | On the Misery of Not Being a Cause | On the Misery of Not Feeling Entitled to One’s Misery | On
the Misery of Knowing That One Is Doing Harm | Coda: On the Effects of Bullshit Jobs on Human
Creativity, and On Why Attempts to Assert Oneself Creatively or Politically Against Pointless Employment
Might Be Considered a Form of Spiritual Warfare
Chapter 5
Why Are Bullshit Jobs Proliferating?
A Brief Excursus on Causality and the Nature of Sociological Explanation | Sundry Notes on the Role of
Government in Creating and Maintaining Bullshit Jobs | Concerning Some False Explanations for the Rise of
Bullshit Jobs | Why the Financial Industry Might Be Considered a Paradigm for Bullshit Job Creation | On
Some Ways in Which the Current Form of Managerial Feudalism Resembles Classical Feudalism, and Other
Ways in Which It Does Not | How Managerial Feudalism Manifests Itself in the Creative Industries through
an Endless Multiplication of Intermediary Executive Ranks | Conclusion, with a Brief Return to the
Question of Three Levels of Causation
Chapter 6
Why Do We as a Society Not Object to the Growth of Pointless
Employment?
On the Impossibility of Developing an Absolute Measure of Value | How Most People in Contemporary
Society Do Accept the Notion of a Social Value That Can Be Distinguished from Economic Value, Even If It
Is Very Difficult to Pin Down What It Is | Concerning the Inverse Relationship Between the Social Value of
Work and the Amount of Money One Is Likely to Be Paid for It | On the Theological Roots of Our
Attitudes Toward Labor | On the Origins of the Northern European Notion of Paid Labor as Necessary to
the Full Formation of an Adult Human Being | How, with the Advent of Capitalism, Work Came to Be Seen
in Many Quarters Either as a Means of Social Reform or Ultimately as a Virtue in Its Own Right, and How
Laborers Countered by Embracing the Labor Theory of Value | Concerning the Key Flaw in the Labor
Theory of Value as It Became Popular in the Nineteenth Century, and How the Owners of Capital Exploited
That Flaw | How, over the Course of the Twentieth Century, Work Came to Be Increasingly Valued
Primarily as a Form of Discipline and Self-Sacrifice
Chapter 7
What Are the Political Effects of Bullshit Jobs, and Is There
Anything That Can Be Done About This Situation?
On How the Political Culture under Managerial Feudalism Comes to Be Maintained by a Balance of
Resentments | How the Current Crisis over Robotization Relates to the Larger Problem of Bullshit Jobs | On
the Political Ramifications of Bullshitization and Consequent Decline of Productivity in the Caring Sector as
It Relates to the Possibility of a Revolt of the Caring Classes | On Universal Basic Income as an Example of a
Program That Might Begin to Detach Work from Compensation and Put an End to the Dilemmas Described
in This Book
Acknowledgments
About the Author
Notes
Bibliography
To anyone who would rather be doing something useful with themselves.
Preface:
On the Phenomenon of Bullshit
Jobs
In the spring of 2013, I unwittingly set off a very minor international sensation.
It all began when I was asked to write an essay for a new radical magazine called
Strike! The editor asked if I had anything provocative that no one else would be
likely to publish. I usually have one or two essay ideas like that stewing around, so
I drafted one up and presented him with a brief piece entitled “On the
Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.”
The essay was based on a hunch. Everyone is familiar with those sort of jobs
that don’t seem, to the outsider, to really do much of anything: HR consultants,
communications coordinators, PR researchers, financial strategists, corporate
lawyers, or the sort of people (very familiar in academic contexts) who spend their
time staffing committees that discuss the problem of unnecessary committees.
The list was seemingly endless. What, I wondered, if these jobs really are useless,
and those who hold them are aware of it? Certainly you meet people now and
then who seem to feel their jobs are pointless and unnecessary. Could there be
anything more demoralizing than having to wake up in the morning five out of
seven days of one’s adult life to perform a task that one secretly believed did not
need to be performed—that was simply a waste of time or resources, or that even
made the world worse? Would this not be a terrible psychic wound running
across our society? Yet if so, it was one that no one ever seemed to talk about.
There were plenty of surveys over whether people were happy at work. There
were none, as far as I knew, about whether or not they felt their jobs had any good
reason to exist.
This possibility that our society is riddled with useless jobs that no one wants
to talk about did not seem inherently implausible. The subject of work is riddled
with taboos. Even the fact that most people don’t like their jobs and would relish
an excuse not to go to work is considered something that can’t really be admitted
on TV—certainly not on the TV news, even if it might occasionally be alluded to
in documentaries and stand-up comedy. I had experienced these taboos myself: I
had once acted as the media liaison for an activist group that, rumor had it, was
planning a civil disobedience campaign to shut down the Washington, DC,
transport system as part of a protest against a global economic summit. In the days
leading up to it, you could hardly go anywhere looking like an anarchist without
some cheerful civil servant walking up to you and asking whether it was really true
he or she wouldn’t have to go to work on Monday. Yet at the same time, TV
crews managed dutifully to interview city employees—and I wouldn’t be
surprised if some of them were the same city employees—commenting on how
terribly tragic it would be if they wouldn’t be able to get to work, since they knew
that’s what it would take to get them on TV. No one seems to feel free to say what
they really feel about such matters—at least in public.
It was plausible, but I didn’t really know. In a way, I wrote the piece as a kind
of experiment. I was interested to see what sort of response it would elicit.
This is what I wrote for the August 2013 issue:
On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs
In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end,
technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain
or the United States would have achieved a fifteen-hour work week. There’s
every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite
capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been
marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order
to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge
swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their
entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to
be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation
is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks
about it.
Why did Keynes’s promised utopia—still being eagerly awaited in the sixties
—never materialize? The standard line today is that he didn’t figure in the
massive increase in consumerism. Given the choice between less hours and
more toys and pleasures, we’ve collectively chosen the latter. This presents a
nice morality tale, but even a moment’s reflection shows it can’t really be true.
Yes, we have witnessed the creation of an endless variety of new jobs and
industries since the twenties, but very few have anything to do with the
production and distribution of sushi, iPhones, or fancy sneakers.
So what are these new jobs, precisely? A recent report comparing
employment in the US between 1910 and 2000 gives us a clear picture (and I
note, one pretty much exactly echoed in the UK). Over the course of the last
century, the number of workers employed as domestic servants, in industry,
and in the farm sector has collapsed dramatically. At the same time,
“professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing
“from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words,
productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away. (Even if
you count industrial workers globally, including the toiling masses in India and
China, such workers are still not nearly so large a percentage of the world
population as they used to be.)
But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the
world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas,
we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the
administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries
like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of
sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human
resources, and public relations. And these numbers do not even reflect all those
people whose job is to provide administrative, technical, or security support
for these industries, or, for that matter, the whole host of ancillary industries
(dog washers, all-night pizza deliverymen) that only exist because everyone else
is spending so much of their time working in all the other ones.
These are what I propose to call “bullshit jobs.”
It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake
of keeping us all working. And here, precisely, lies the mystery. In capitalism,
this is precisely what is not supposed to happen. Sure, in the old inefficient
Socialist states like the Soviet Union, where employment was considered both a
right and a sacred duty, the system made up as many jobs as it had to. (This is
why in Soviet department stores it took three clerks to sell a piece of meat.)
But, of course, this is the very sort of problem market competition is supposed
to fix. According to economic theory, at least, the last thing a profit-seeking
firm is going to do is shell out money to workers they don’t really need to
employ. Still, somehow, it happens.
While corporations may engage in ruthless downsizing, the layoffs and
speed-ups invariably fall on that class of people who are actually making,
moving, fixing, and maintaining things. Through some strange alchemy no
one can quite explain, the number of salaried paper pushers ultimately seems
to expand, and more and more employees find themselves—not unlike Soviet
workers, actually—working forty- or even fifty-hour weeks on paper but
effectively working fifteen hours just as Keynes predicted, since the rest of their
time is spent organizing or attending motivational seminars, updating their
Facebook profiles, or downloading TV box sets.
The answer clearly isn’t economic: it’s moral and political. The ruling class
has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their
hands is a mortal danger. (Think of what started to happen when this even
began to be approximated in the sixties.) And, on the other hand, the feeling
that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit
themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking
hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.
Once, when contemplating the apparently endless growth of administrative
responsibilities in British academic departments, I came up with one possible
vision of hell. Hell is a collection of individuals who are spending the bulk of
their time working on a task they don’t like and are not especially good at. Say
they were hired because they were excellent cabinetmakers, and then discover
they are expected to spend a great deal of their time frying fish. Nor does the
task really need to be done—at least, there’s only a very limited number of fish
that need to be fried. Yet somehow they all become so obsessed with
resentment at the thought that some of their coworkers might be spending
more time making cabinets and not doing their fair share of the fish-frying
responsibilities that before long, there’s endless piles of useless, badly cooked
fish piling up all over the workshop, and it’s all that anyone really does.
I think this is actually a pretty accurate description of the moral dynamics
of our own economy.
Now, I realize any such argument is going to run into immediate
objections: “Who are you to say what jobs are really ‘necessary’? What’s
‘necessary,’ anyway? You’re an anthropology professor—what’s the ‘need’ for
that?” (And, indeed, a lot of tabloid readers would take the existence of my job
as the very definition of wasteful social expenditure.) And on one level, this is
obviously true. There can be no objective measure of social value.
I would not presume to tell someone who is convinced they are making a
meaningful contribution to the world that, really, they are not. But what about
those people who are themselves convinced their jobs are meaningless? Not
long ago, I got back in touch with a school friend whom I hadn’t seen since I
was fifteen. I was amazed to discover that in the interim, he had become first a
poet, then the front man in an indie rock band. I’d heard some of his songs on
the radio, having no idea the singer was someone I actually knew. He was
obviously brilliant, innovative, and his work had unquestionably brightened
and improved the lives of people all over the world. Yet, after a couple of
unsuccessful albums, he’d lost his contract, and, plagued with debts and a
newborn daughter, ended up, as he put it, “taking the default choice of so
many directionless folk: law school.” Now he’s a corporate lawyer working in a
prominent New York firm. He was the first to admit that his job was utterly
meaningless, contributed nothing to the world, and, in his own estimation,
should not really exist.
There’s a lot of questions one could ask here, starting with, What does it say
about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for
talented poet-musicians but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in
corporate law? (Answer: If 1 percent of the population controls most of the
disposable wealth, what we call “the market” reflects what they think is useful
or important, not anybody else.) But even more, it shows that most people in
pointless jobs are ultimately aware of it. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met a
corporate lawyer who didn’t think their job was bullshit. The same goes for
almost all the new industries outlined above. There is a whole class of salaried
professionals that, should you meet them at parties and admit that you do
something that might be considered interesting (an anthropologist, for
example), will want to avoid even discussing their line of work entirely. Give
them a few drinks, and they will launch into tirades about how pointless and
stupid their job really is.
This is a profound psychological violence here. How can one even begin to
speak of dignity in labor when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?
How can it not create a sense of deep rage and resentment? Yet it is the peculiar
genius of our society that its rulers have figured out a way, as in the case of the
fish fryers, to ensure that rage is directed precisely against those who actually
do get to do meaningful work. For instance: in our society, there seems to be a
general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less
one is likely to be paid for it. Again, an objective measure is hard to find, but
one easy way to get a sense is to ask: What would happen were this entire class
of people to simply disappear? Say what you like about nurses, garbage
collectors, or mechanics, it’s obvious that were they to vanish in a puff of
smoke, the results would be immediate and catastrophic. A world without
teachers or dockworkers would soon be in trouble, and even one without
science-fiction writers or ska musicians would clearly be a lesser place. It’s not
entirely clear how humanity would suffer were all private equity CEOs,
lobbyists, PR researchers, actuaries, telemarketers, bailiffs, or legal consultants
to similarly vanish.1 (Many suspect it might improve markedly.) Yet apart from
a handful of well-touted exceptions (doctors), the rule holds surprisingly well.
Even more perverse, there seems to be a broad sense that this is the way
things should be. This is one of the secret strengths of right-wing populism.
You can see it when tabloids whip up resentment against tube workers for
paralyzing London during contract disputes: the very fact that tube workers
can paralyze London shows that their work is actually necessary, but this seems
to be precisely what annoys people. It’s even clearer in the United States, where
Republicans have had remarkable success mobilizing resentment against
schoolteachers and autoworkers (and not, significantly, against the school
administrators or auto industry executives who actually cause the problems)
for their supposedly bloated wages and benefits. It’s as if they are being told
“But you get to teach children! Or make cars! You get to have real jobs! And on
top of that, you have the nerve to also expect middle-class pensions and health
care?”
If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the
power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how he or she could have done a better
job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The
remainder are divided between a terrorized stratum of the universally reviled
unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in
positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities
of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its
financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against
anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system
was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and
error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological
capacities, we are not all working three- to four-hour days.
If ever an essay’s hypothesis was confirmed by its reception, this was it. “On the
Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs” produced an explosion.
The irony was that the two weeks after the piece came out were the same two
weeks that my partner and I had decided to spend with a basket of books, and
each other, in a cabin in rural Quebec. We’d made a point of finding a location
with no wireless. This left me in the awkward position of having to observe the
results only on my mobile phone. The essay went viral almost immediately.
Within weeks, it had been translated into at least a dozen languages, including
German, Norwegian, Swedish, French, Czech, Romanian, Russian, Turkish,
Latvian, Polish, Greek, Estonian, Catalan, and Korean, and was reprinted in
newspapers from Switzerland to Australia. The original Strike! page received more
than a million hits and crashed repeatedly from too much traffic. Blogs sprouted.
Comments sections filled up with confessions from white-collar professionals;
people wrote me asking for guidance or to tell me I had inspired them to quit their
jobs to find something more meaningful. Here is one enthusiastic response (I’ve
collected hundreds) from the comments section of Australia’s Canberra Times:
Wow! Nail on the head! I am a corporate lawyer (tax litigator, to be specific). I
contribute nothing to this world and am utterly miserable all of the time. I
don’t like it when people have the nerve to say “Why do it, then?” because it is
so clearly not that simple. It so happens to be the only way right now for me to
contribute to the 1 percent in such a significant way so as to reward me with a
house in Sydney to raise my future kids . . . Thanks to technology, we are
probably as productive in two days as we previously were in five. But thanks to
greed and some busy-bee syndrome of productivity, we are still asked to slave
away for the profit of others ahead of our own nonremunerated ambitions.
Whether you believe in intelligent design or evolution, humans were not made
to work—so to me, this is all just greed propped up by inflated prices of
necessities.2
At one point, I got a message from one anonymous fan who said that he was part
of an impromptu group circulating the piece within the financial services
community; he’d received five emails containing the essay just that day (certainly
one sign that many in financial services don’t have much to do). None of this
answered the question of how many people really felt that way about their jobs—
as opposed to, say, passing on the piece as a way to drop subtle hints to others—
but before long, statistical evidence did indeed surface.
On January 5, 2015, a little more than a year after the article came out, on the
first Monday of the new year—that is, the day most Londoners were returning to
work from their winter holidays—someone took several hundred ads in London
Underground cars and replaced them with a series of guerrilla posters consisting
of quotes from the original essay. These were the ones they chose:
• Huge swathes of people spend their days performing tasks they secretly believe
do not really need to be performed.
• It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs for the sake of
keeping us all working.
• The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It
is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.
• How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labor when one secretly feels
one’s job should not exist?
The response to the poster campaign was another spate of discussion in the
media (I appeared briefly on Russia Today), as a result of which the polling agency
YouGov took it upon itself to test the hypothesis and conducted a poll of Britons
using language taken directly from the essay: for example, Does your job “make a
meaningful contribution to the world”? Astonishingly, more than a third—37
percent—said they believed that it did not (whereas 50 percent said it did, and 13
percent were uncertain).
This was almost twice what I had anticipated—I’d imagined the percentage of
bullshit jobs was probably around 20 percent. What’s more, a later poll in
Holland came up with almost exactly the same results: in fact, a little higher, as 40
percent of Dutch workers reported that their jobs had no good reason to exist.
So not only has the hypothesis been confirmed by public reaction, it has now
been overwhelmingly confirmed by statistical research.
•••
Clearly, then, we have an important social phenomenon that has received almost
no systematic attention.3 Simply opening up a way to talk about it became, for
many, cathartic. It was obvious that a larger exploration was in order.
What I want to do here is a bit more systematic than the original essay. The
2013 piece was for a magazine about revolutionary politics, and it emphasized the
political implications of the problem. In fact, the essay was just one of a series of
arguments I was developing at the time that the neoliberal (“free market”)
ideology that had dominated the world since the days of Thatcher and Reagan
was really the opposite of what it claimed to be; it was really a political project
dressed up as an economic one.
I had come to this conclusion because it seemed to be the only way to explain
how those in power actually behaved. While neoliberal rhetoric was always all
about unleashing the magic of the marketplace and placing economic efficiency
over all other values, the overall effect of free market policies has been that rates of
economic growth have slowed pretty much everywhere except India and China;
scientific and technological advance has stagnated; and in most wealthy countries,
the younger generations can, for the first time in centuries, expect to lead less
prosperous lives than their parents did. Yet on observing these effects, proponents
of market ideology always reply with calls for even stronger doses of the same
medicine, and politicians duly enact them. This struck me as odd. If a private
company hired a consultant to come up with a business plan, and it resulted in a
sharp decline in profits, that consultant would be fired. At the very least, he’d be
asked to come up with a different plan. With free market reforms, this never
seemed to happen. The more they failed, the more they were enacted. The only
logical conclusion was that economic imperatives weren’t really driving the
project.
What was? It seemed to me the answer had to lie in the mind-set of the political
class. Almost all of those making the key decisions had attended college in the
1960s, when campuses were at the very epicenter of political ferment, and they
felt strongly that such things must never happen again. As a result, while they
might have been concerned with declining economic indicators, they were also
quite delighted to note that the combination of globalization, gutting the power
of unions, and creating an insecure and overworked workforce—along with
aggressively paying lip service to sixties calls to hedonistic personal liberation
(what came to be known as “lifestyle liberalism, fiscal conservativism”)—had the
effect of simultaneously shifting more and more wealth and power to the wealthy
and almost completely destroying the basis for organized challenges to their
power. It might not have worked very well economically, but politically it worked
like a dream. If nothing else, they had little incentive to abandon such policies. All
I did in the essay was to pursue this insight: whenever you find someone doing
something in the name of economic efficiency that seems completely
economically irrational (like, say, paying people good money to do nothing all
day), one had best start by asking, as the ancient Romans did, “Qui bono?”—“Who
benefits?”—and how.
This is less a conspiracy theory approach than it is an anticonspiracy theory. I
was asking why action wasn’t taken. Economic trends happen for all sorts of
reasons, but if they cause problems for the rich and powerful, those rich and
powerful people will pressure institutions to step in and do something about the
matter. This is why after the financial crisis of 2008–09, large investment banks
were bailed out but ordinary mortgage holders weren’t. The proliferation of
bullshit jobs, as we’ll see, happened for a variety of reasons. The real question I
was asking is why no one intervened (“conspired,” if you like) to do something
about the matter.
•••
In this book I want to do considerably more than that.
I believe that the phenomenon of bullshit employment can provide us with a
window on much deeper social problems. We need to ask ourselves, not just how
did such a large proportion of our workforce find themselves laboring at tasks that
they themselves consider pointless, but also why do so many people believe this
state of affairs to be normal, inevitable—even desirable? More oddly still, why,
despite the fact that they hold these opinions in the abstract, and even believe that
it is entirely appropriate that those who labor at pointless jobs should be paid
more and receive more honor and recognition than those who do something they
consider to be useful, do they nonetheless find themselves depressed and miserable
if they themselves end up in positions where they are being paid to do nothing, or
nothing that they feel benefits others in any way? There is clearly a jumble of
contradictory ideas and impulses at play here. One thing I want to do in this book
is begin to sort them out. This will mean asking practical questions such as: How
do bullshit jobs actually happen? It will also mean asking deep historical
questions, like, When and how did we come to believe that creativity was
supposed to be painful, or, how did we ever come up with the notion that it
would be possible to sell one’s time? And finally, it will mean asking fundamental
questions about human nature.
Writing this book also serves a political purpose.
I would like this book to be an arrow aimed at the heart of our civilization.
There is something very wrong with what we have made ourselves. We have
become a civilization based on work—not even “productive work” but work as an
end and meaning in itself. We have come to believe that men and women who do
not work harder than they wish at jobs they do not particularly enjoy are bad
people unworthy of love, care, or assistance from their communities. It is as if we
have collectively acquiesced to our own enslavement. The main political reaction
to our awareness that half the time we are engaged in utterly meaningless or even
counterproductive activities—usually under the orders of a person we dislike—is
to rankle with resentment over the fact there might be others out there who are
not in the same trap. As a res