014: A World Without Work


On this episode of The Future Is A Mixtape, Matt & Jesse explore the most exceptional work of utopian thinking since the days of Occupy Wall Street: Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015). This is the co-hosts third such “CliffPod,” and they will hum over some of the most far-reaching and visionary aspects of this book, weighing out the co-authors’ success in diagnosing why the left has been--to use Jesse’s apt phrase--“drowning in failures” amid the continued carnage of Neoliberalism’s rotisserie blades. Matt & Jesse will also evaluate the insights the authors gain from how the founders of the Mont Pelerin Society were able to masterfully deploy “second hand dealers” and create a winning strategy for the right that the left has yet to match in any transformative way (and which go beyond the Cult of Direct Action and Paper Anarchy). Finally, our Abbot & Costello co-hosts will assess these authors’ policy demands and solutions in order to learn why this book about a post-work world is so vital to read for our deserved Star Trek future.

Mentioned In This Episode:

The Brief Wild History of “CliffsNotes” (Inspiring Our Nascent CliffPods)

The Background of Karl Marx’s Illustrious & Legendary Quote:

Marx's oft-cited comment in The German Ideology that in a communist society (or some version of a post-capitalist society) he would be able to "hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic" has become more famous than what he said in other places, more specifically.

To Learn What Marx Actually Thought About What the End of Capitalism Would Look Like, You Would Have to Read What He Wrote in Chapter 32 in Capital: Volume 1: A Critique of Political Economy:

"Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labor at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. Thus integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.”

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: Matthew Snyder’s allusion to “some weird kind of Mars landing where you have to do mine-work in some bad 1980’s Science Fiction film” is actually Peter Hyman’s Outland (1981)--the setting of which takes place on Jupiter where Sean Connery must find his inner High Noon as exploited workers mysteriously and ceaselessly continue to die.

Caroline Fredrickson’s Long Essay in The Atlantic: “There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts”

Matthew Snyder’s First Job at Seventeen: J.C. Zips (which is actually just barely in Richland, Washington)

Charles Eisenstein’s Book, Sacred Economics (2011) and Ian Mackenzie’s Short Film Inspired by Eisenstein’s Work of Nonfiction

Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s Co-Authored Book: Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015)

The Indigogo Campaign to Develop a Documentary Based on the Book Inventing the Future

Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s First Co-Authored Work Appeared in the Edited Collection: #Accelerate: The Accelerationist Reader (2014)

Joshua Bregman Visit With Us for Episode 6 of The Future Is A Mixtape: “Ye Are Many, They Are Few”

Novara Radio’s Podcast of Aaron Bastani Interviewing Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, the Co-Authors for Inventing the Future

Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek Appear on Doug Henwood’s Podcast Behind the News to Discuss Their Book Inventing the Future (April 6, 2017)

Novara Radio & Aaron Bastani’s YouTube Definition of “Fully Automated Luxury Communism”

Peter Frase’s Four Futures: Life After Capitalism (Our CliffPod of This Masterful Work of Nonfiction Can Be Found Here)

“Bernie Sanders Is Magical” as a GIF (& Which Later Inspired Shirt-Makers): Here.

The Exact Shirt-Color & Design (the Image of Which Includes Bernie Shooting Rainbows from His Right Hand): Here.

The Anarchist Library: Jan D. Matthews’ “An Introduction to the Situationists”

Jo Freeman’s (aka Joreen’s) Original Essay: “The Tyranny of Structurelessness”

Vice: “We Interviewed the Revolutionaries Pouring Concrete on London's 'Anti-Homeless' Spikes”

For a Very Different Interpretation, Read Mark Bray’s Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism in Occupy Wall Street

The New Yorker’s Article on David Graeber and Occupy Wall Street’s Offshoot Project, Rolling Jubilee: “A Robin Hood for the Debt Crisis?”

The Press-Enterprise: “Occupy Riverside Encampment Removed” (Photo-Gallery) & Article Description of the Event on November 30, 2011: “Occupy Encampment Cleared from Downtown”

Jodi Dean’s Phrase Worthy of Legendary Quotation Status: “Goldman Sachs doesn’t care if you raise chickens.” Here Is a Review from Local-Organic Only Activist Who Quotes the Phrase & Evaluates the Book Fairly.

The Overton Window: Neoliberalism Now Owns This Sheet of Glass

Laura Marsh in The New Republic: “The Flaws of the Overton Window”

Robert Frost’s Defense of Poetic Meter & Traditional Poetry Form: “You can’t play tennis without a net.”

Milton Friedman Defines (Right-)Libertarianism & His Awful Ideas About Accountability and Justice During His 1999 Appearance on Uncommon Knowledge’s “Take It To the Limits” Episode

The Origins of Negative-Solidarity from Private Workers Toward Public Workers’ Pensions: MarketWatch’s “The Inventor of the 401(k) Says He Created a ‘Monster’”

Bacon’s Rebellion: A History of Positive Solidarity & the Land-Barons’ Reactionary Aims to Create Negative Solidarity:

“It was the first rebellion in the American colonies in which discontented frontiersmen took part. A similar uprising in Maryland took place later that year. The alliance between indentured servants and Africans (most enslaved until death or freed), united by their bond-servitude, disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from subsequent united uprisings with the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705.”

Adam Curtis’ Excellent HyperNormalisation (Matt’s Favorite Documentary of 2016)

The Origin of Margaret Thatcher’s Phrase: “TINA” (There Is No Alternative)

Broken Social Scene’s Brilliant New Album Hug of Thunder and Feist’s Marvelous  and Moving Song Lyric: “The future’s not what it used to be / but we still gotta get there.”

Cory Robin’s Magisterial Essay in The Nation: “Reclaiming the Politics of Freedom”

Adult Swim’s Hilarious and Cutting Satire Short: For-Profit Online University

The Digital Aristocracy Versus the Digital Paupers: What Nathan Schneider Explains in America: The Jesuit Review: “How the Digital Economy Is Making Us Gleaners Again”

David Graeber in The Baffler: “Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit”

Fred Armisen in Portlandia: “Portland Is a City Where Young People Go to Retire”

Dave Eggers’ The Circle. The Novel Was Also Discussed in Episode 4 of The Future Is A Mixtape: “Terminal Dystopia Syndrome (TDS)”

NPR: “Keynes Predicted We Would Be Working 15-Hour Weeks. Why Was He So Wrong?”

Shana Lebowitz in Business Insider: “In 1930, economist John Keynes predicted we'd only work 15 hours a week — here's one theory why he was wrong”

The Very Interesting But Quiet History of Paul Lafargue: The First to Argue for the 3-Hour Work Day

Paul Lafargue’s Most Well Known Work: The Right to Be Lazy (1883)

Geoffrey Mohan in The Los Angeles Times: “As California’s Labor Shortage Grows, Farmers Race to Replace Workers with Robots”

David Horsey in The Los Angeles Times: “Robots, Not Immigrants, Are Taking American Jobs”

Matt Bruenig’s Just-Created & Emergent People’s Policy Project (3P)--A Crowd-Founded Anti-Capitalist Thinktank

Want to Help the People’s Policy Project? Go to Patreon & Donate.

The Dig: “Matt Bruenig on Why Welfare Is Great and We Need More of It”

And to Close Out This Week’s Shownotes About a Post-Work World, I’ll End With a Revolutionary Fop Who Proudly Wore Flowers as Lapels . . . Oscar Wilde. As He So Movingly Put It, So Many Years Ago, in The Soul of Man Under Socialism:

"A great deal of nonsense is being written and talked nowadays about the dignity of manual labour. There is nothing necessarily dignified about manual labour at all, and most of it is absolutely degrading. It is mentally and morally injurious to man to do anything in which he does not find pleasure, and many forms of labour are quite pleasureless activities, and should be regarded as such. To sweep a slushy crossing for eight hours, on a day when the east wind is blowing is a disgusting occupation. To sweep it with mental, moral, or physical dignity seems to me to be impossible. To sweep it with joy would be appalling. Man is made for something better than disturbing dirt. All work of that kind should be done by a machine."