I Have No Job And I Must Eat
you should read part one first, it’s better.
Alienation is built-in to work as we know it, yet many people refuse to admit that it even exists, and many simply never get the chance to reflect on it because they’re too busy behaving properly and being productive. It maintains order and the status quo by keeping us in our place, it facilitates the creation of artificial subgroups within the working class that give ignorance and bigotry the power they hold; the power to separate the workers of the world from their own revolutionary potential. Recently we’ve started to see an accelerated disenfranchisement growing among the working class that both excites and frightens me; it seems like it may have the potential to serve as a vehicle for revolutionary sentiment, millions are quitting their jobs and, ostensibly, demanding better treatment from employers. Millions more, however, appear to be embarking on a path of reactionary traditionalism that ultimately leads to the mereological nowhere of an aggressively postmodern solipso-nihilism, but looks really fucking enticing from where they’re standing, which happens to be at the foot of an insurmountable mountain of finance and wealth and debt and control that shows all signs of continuing until it converts the entire human universe into useless detritus and paperclips. The Great Resignation, or whatever the fuck it’s been labeled, coinciding with the resurgence of fascism is not surprising. We are only becoming more and more disempowered, economically and humanly; simply seeing to our basic needs has become a nearly Sisyphean task that so very many of us only just manage and have nothing left with which we might see to satisfying some of our higher needs. Leisure time and recreation, personal growth and self-actualization, the meaningless waste that used to signify success; these have all become things of the past, and things that those who’ve come before us and had — while still pitiful — more of a chance to achieve them, hold over our heads and point to as evidence that we are lazy, ungrateful and self centered, and destined to fail if we don’t return to the ill-defined greatness of bygone ages. The precarity and alienation of life as a worker have only become more and more complete over the years as we have watched Capital, with it’s inhuman telesis, perfect the means and methods of extraction. We are all nothing more than dividuated parts of the machine, stripped of all things that make us members of the human community, and it seems the only way out is through, so we bend and break ourselves into strange little shapes that fit into their molds rather than spreading our beautiful human wings and flying away because we’ve all been made to forget that we’re humans.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, man I love being a turtle, I mean, a member of society. I don’t at all mind putting myself behind others, I don’t mind putting myself behind causes and abstract concepts, like emancipation and consent and fuckin awesomeness. I find it to be a very meaningful thing in fact, and whether or not goodwill is ultimately altruism or selfishness doesn’t make a difference, either way we humans sure do like our sense of community. When, however, you’re made to do mind-numbing, soul-crushing tasks over and over and over again, the sunshine and rainbows start to fade, and you’re left with nothing but shades of machinic gray. The fact that we have to enforce the systems of property, wealth and work with the systems of discipline, debt and imprisonment demonstrates just how fundamentally shitty they are, but there is no readily available escape. There are, of course, escapes, but the most evident and easily accessible among them are very unsavory; it often comes down to suicide or a hard right turn into an incoherent post-fascist egoism, and talking about those aren’t all that productive. The only true escape lies beyond the ideology of the State, and it takes a lot of work to break those illusions. I like working hard. I like exerting myself physically and mentally and emotionally. I like the payoff I get from applying myself fully; everybody does, for the most part. Wasting our lives toiling away at digital widget factories for billionaires to ride metal dicks to the edge of space and bankroll global imperialism, without even having our base needs met and never having a realistic chance to satisfy our dreams and always having to pretend things are just fine because if ever we deviate from the polite script we’re labeled degenerate and ejected from any group we’ve ever cared about is not applying oneself, that’s just torture and human sacrifice. People aren’t stupid, that’s a stupid thing to think. People aren’t lazy, that’s just a lazy justification for the state of the world that lets us get away with never confronting anything. It’s just easier to hate everyone and everything than it is to actually care; and because we spend the majority of our time diluting our humanity and deluding ourselves, and the world, about who we really are — the actual selves we’re forced to betray and keep stuffed in a closet under the stairs or the mechanical, consumptive others that occupy our bodies and see only to the needs of Capital — we begin to resent and even hate ourselves right along with everyone else. Capital forces us to become expressly what we are not, unthinking, unfeeling, undead machines who happily accept the brutality and horror presupposed by the status quo. Remember kids, America eats her youth, because we’ve all been made to forget that we’re humans.
This alienation has been part of our lives, and will remain part of them in its current form, for as long as the State has existed, and persists, solely to protect property and to punish people too poor to purchase privilege. Our Late-Capitalist hellworld, however, doesn’t only consist of classical alienation; we now live with the pressure to be constantly and continuously validated by others. The hyperconnectivity of the twenty-first century world and the commoditization of identity create the unending cycle we’re trapped in that sits on top of the pre-existing condition of being a worker. This need to constantly maintain one’s identity through a conspicuous online presence is commodity fetishism taken to the absurdist, absurdest, extreme. Pics or it didn’t happen has taken on an entirely new, insidious meaning. Just like May Sixty-Eight and the Gulf War, things no longer take place in the physical world. People have been talking about simulations and simulacra as long as we’ve been talking, but only recently, now that we have the technology to support it, has Capital been able to completely marketize the Self and make the physical world our bodies inhabit meaningless. If one wants to participate in society fully, one must constantly check their feed and update their profile and post something more authentic or outrageous or viral than the last post; all the while keeping that actual self repressed and magnifying the delusion and dissonance and distaste and disillusionment. Once again, we fucking hate ourselves for what we are and are not, and that self-hate expresses itself outwardly as apathy and violence and depraved, cynical inhumanness. I’m not one of those alarmist “the phones are ruining our lives!” guys, I really like phones and the internet and all the astounding things technology allows us to do, but I am one of those guys who still recognizes the difference between that world and the physical one that’s rapidly changing in irreversible ways and becoming an inhospitable place for any and all without millions of dollars. Being a human nowadays isn’t as simple as simply being an actual human, we’ve got to live up to impossible standards; and the fucked up part is that we all know it’s bullshit but we continue playing by the rules because we’ve all been made to forget that we’re human.
For the past few months I’ve been driving for DoorDash as my sole source of income. Now, I just typed out like a two-thousand word explanation of how shitty it is, but I just deleted it because fuck that. Long story short — don’t fuckin be a DoorDash driver if you’re hoping to make money. It’s a shady ass company, they lie to drivers about compensation, they lie to customers about safety regulations, and they lie to investors about everything, they suck. I started doing it as a way to supplement my income, and after COVID and personal bullshit it is currently the only money I’m getting my hands on. It fucking sucks. I make just enough money to keep filling my gas tank and paying my diminished portion of the bills, I legitimately hit zero dollars in the bank at least once a week. I honestly don’t know which is worse, the soul crushing oscillation between overdrawn and a hundred bucks I get from driving around all day, everyday, that has me questioning my worth as both a member of a family and the society surrounding us; or the standard never-ending grind that traditional employment provides. Honestly, the one good thing that a real job provides is the human interaction, I actually miss the guys I worked with, I miss some of our customers, I miss the long days and difficult tasks and water cooler bullshit. Also, with a real job comes the sense of validity and the satisfaction of tangible productivity; people sure do like to treat gig workers like shit, and I miss being able to look someone in the eye when they ask what I do for a living. However, those things are not exclusive to jobs, real or otherwise, and all the shit I’ve been writing about makes it nearly impossible to have a fulfilling life no matter how you get your money. Gig work opens up the freedom to structure your work in a way that makes more sense to you, but it takes the precarity of a real job and cranks it up to eleven!
Look, I know nobody wants to listen to me complain about having to work so hard just to maintain my HBO Max Subscription, but just in case you’re interested, The Righteous Gemstones is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and only one of several Danny McBride offerings HBO has on offer. I know I am extremely privileged. In fact, that Is a major factor in my current ongoing identity crisis; I’ve been poor most of my life and have identified with the working class struggle, but I somehow now find myself functionally removed from that struggle in any meaningful way, and that’s very tough to get my head around. The one good thing I can say about being a lazy degenerate is that it’s afforded me my own private return to Marx. I have been able to read and reread a lot of the theory and background thought that I just took for granted for the last twenty years or so, and coming back to it all with a matured mind has allowed me to learn things and see the world in ways that simply would never have been accessible to me were I not having this middle-aged Rumschpringe. By the way, am I middle-aged? I don’t feel like it, but also I feel old as fuck. Through rediscovering the things that matter to me I have rediscovered myself, and though I wish I were a better person, I’ve found that I’m happy with the direction in which I seem to have oriented myself. That direction being exactly the wrong one according to the predominant cultural mores. The world we inhabit is much more than just unfair or uncomfortable, things are untenable — fascism is rising for a second golden age, the planet is dying, we are killing each other faster than we can kill ourselves, Capital has won the war that the masses were too busy to fight. I don’t want to get too carried away with sweeping, sensational language, things are fucked, we’re running out of just one more second chances. We’ve managed to get caught in the feedback loop of produce/desire/consume, we’ve entirely suppressed the Human spirit inside ourselves and turned life itself into a shiny object to be bought and sold; and all of these dystopian horrors are made possible only through the strange ritual suicide called Work. We have got to find a way to break free of all this, we can sit and explain and expound upon it until we’re blue in the face, but if we don’t act we necessarily become complicit.
So, why did I force you to read all that, or at least write it all and click publish and hope that someone, anyone, actually will read it? I don’t know man. I write. A lot. And especially when I’m doing DoorDash. I enjoy five- to ten-minute periods of sitting in parking lots every hour, and a lot of the time I put those periods to work by writing bullshit on my phone. Returning readers might have picked up on the staccato, stochastic, sometimes non sequitur nature of much of my writing. A good part of that is a consequence of my lack of expertise and skill in writing, but at least some of it can be accounted for by the fact that I often write portions of a given work over several spaced out, short sessions. Why, though, did I write this specifically? Well, I guess I’m lonely and working through some inner turmoil and thought someone out there in TV land might gain something from witnessing the drawn out process of my mental unwellness. Or maybe I’m just that narcissistic to think that I’m coming up with valuable, novel thoughts on this matter, and the world should tremble before my revolutionary power. Whatever, quit your job, learn to farm, steal things, disobey cops, radicalize your parents by forcing them to confront the brutality of the system, remember that you’re human.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for spending some of your time with me. I hope that at least some of the grand bullshit that haunts me as I lie awake at night has managed to shine through, and failing that I hope you’ve at least been entertained. See ya’ soon!