Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism

Madeline Lane-McKinley in the Boston Review:

If there is a utopian kernel to be found in this pandemic, so replete with dystopian terror, it is most certainly that each day more and more people have grown to hate the world of work. Some of us, certainly a lucky few, might even enjoy our jobs, or certain aspects of them, but all the same, work under capitalism has become increasingly legible as a system of false promises—deferred freedom, self-actualization, leisure, joy, safety, or whatever else we might value that cannot be reduced to the accumulation of capital.

At the center of this network of false promises is the myth of the labor of love, currently “cracking under its own weight,” as labor journalist Sarah Jaffe argues in her recent book Work Won’t Love You Back, “because work itself no longer works.” Historically this myth applied to the work of caretaking as a way to naturalize the unwaged or low-waged labor of women, from childcare, eldercare, and housework to teaching and nursing. Today, “the conditions under which ‘essential’ workers had to report to the job,” Jaffe notes, “revealed the coercion at the heart of the labor relation.”

More here.