For us to live any other way was nuts. Uh, to us, those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day, and worried about their bills, were dead. I mean they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something we just took it. If anyone complained twice they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again.
And by ‘we’ I mean pretty much all of us, Left to Right, because everybody wants to put Americans back to work, one way or another – ‘full employment’ is the goal of Right-wing politicians no less than Left-wing economists. The differences between them are over means, not ends, and those ends include intangibles such as the acquisition of character.
Which is to say that everybody has doubled down on the benefits of work just as it reaches a vanishing point. Securing ‘full employment’ has become a bipartisan goal at the very moment it has become both impossible and unnecessary. Sort of like securing slavery in the 1850s or segregation in the 1950s.
Perhaps more significantly, places of employment and spaces of work would seem to be supremely relevant to the bread and butter of political science: as sites of decision making, they are structured by relations of power and authority; as hierarchical organizations, they raise issues of consent and obedience; as spaces of exclusion, they pose question about membership and obligation. Although impersonal forces may compel us into work, once we enter the workplace we inevitably find ourselves enmeshed in the direct and personal relations of ruler and ruled. Indeed the work site is where we often experience the most immediate, unambiguous, and tangible relations of power that most of us will encounter on a daily basis. As a fully political rather than a simple economic phenomena, work would thus seem to be an especially rich object of inquiry.
— Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
— Buckminster Fuller, New York Magazine, 1970
I was a loser, most concerned with making a living. It took me 30 years to understand… I had to reinvent a system, find a way out, and set some rules that could work for me and a few others. I guess in the end that’s what we all are trying to do.
— Maurizio Cattelan
RP: Presumably the company found your notorious working habits - the late starts, non-arrivals and all-nighters - pretty baffling.
PS: It baffled Pentagram when I was there, it baffles me actually, and of course in America, with the American work ethic, it’s just unheard of. I have a real problem with going to work for the sake of going to work. When I have to produce something, I do it. When I don’t have work to realise, I’m looking for what to do. In a way, I work all the time, but I’ve never disciplined myself or been in a situation that disciplined me into going to office at 9.30 in the morning and staying there until six o'clock and then going home.
— Peter Saville: post-Los Angeles, postmodern, interviewed by Rick Poyner for Eye Magazine