Productivity Is Not Working ➶

Laurie Penny, writing at Wired:

There has always been something a little obscene about the cult of the hustle, the treadmill of alienated insecurity that tells you that if you stop running for even an instant, you’ll be flung flat on your face—but the treadmill is familiar. The treadmill feels normal. And right now, when the world economy has jerked to a sudden, shuddering stop, most of us are desperate to feel normal. This column is happening because I lost one of my three jobs to the Covid-19 crisis right around the time when I realized I had no idea when I was going to see my mum again, and after a few hours of crying and tidying, I emailed my kind editor in a panic and told him to please give me deadlines, I don’t know who I am without them. Why don’t I know?

“When we have no memory or little imagination of an alternative to a life centered on work,” writes theorist Kathi Weeks, “there are few incentives to reflect on why we work as we do and what we might wish to do instead.”

The last time I experienced this feeling was when I was as a freelancer in an advertising agency for some weeks. A pressure to work hard and stay in late, and an underlying feeling of uncertainty and unease.

It was a reminder for me of why I had abandoned the idea of working in advertising in the first place. While it does do work for the public good, this is usually the exception, and often you are working to convince people to buy things that are not very good at all and that they do not need, or to make people feel bad about themselves.

It also made me think of the millions of people who might be glad to have a job, including those who cut trees to make a living.

Shouldn’t the world come together to make a universal basic income a reality and give people the freedom to choose to work on the things they care about instead of on the things they don’t, solely to survive?

# Tuesday, 21 April 2020

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