Work is Bollocks

Work is Bollocks

Why the working-class should control how work is done.

A version of this appeared in The Blast, Liverpool Class Action's quarterly publication.

It should be obvious to everyone that work is bollocks. Who likes work? Who really, genuinely likes getting up early every morning, getting on a packed bus or train, going to a place you're basically trapped in for at least 8 hours a day getting told what to do by some no-mark, coming home too exhausted to do anything else, going to bed and then doing it all over again the next day?

Everything seems to revolve around work. For most of us, it seems like there's no choice. Most of us aren't born with money. For most of us, the whole point of going to school seems to be so we can get a job after we finish. If we're not lucky enough to get a job, we end up getting treated like shit by the dole, forced into work, any work, by the poverty of unemployment.

When we're at work, we're always looking forward to the weekend, or to our next holiday, or just to the end of the shift. We're always looking for ways to make work easier on ourselves. We've all got systems for getting through the day. Maybe a cup of tea every hour, or a smoke, to break up the day.

At work we're always being watched over, talked down to, told what we can and can't do, even how we can and can't do our jobs. How many times have you been told at work "That's not the way we do things"? You're told what you can and can't wear. You're told when to show up and when to leave. Sometimes you're monitored when you go the toilet.

And then we get paid. It's what we've been looking forward to all week, or all month. Money. And then it's gone. Rent, gas, electricity, food, household stuff, bog roll. Maybe you're paying off the overdraft from last month. But wherever it went, it's gone. And now you've got to go back to work to get more. Because if you don't you'll lose your home. You'll starve. Your kids will be going round in threadbare clothes.

You're working just for the essentials: a roof over your head. Gas or electricity so you can cook and so you don't freeze in the winter. Food so you don't starve. You do eight hours of work (often more) and two hours of travelling (often more), you put up with your boss, you accept being trapped inside a building all day, you accept being away from your family all day, just to stop yourself and them being homeless and hungry. And that's ridiculous. Because if you think about it, you shouldn't have to.

When you first look at it, it seems like we benefit from the work we do. We usually get paid for it, after all. It's better than starving to death. But there are people who benefit from our work more than we do. Our bosses, the owners of the businesses we work for. They employ a number of people to do the work the business needs doing. That's tens or hundreds or thousands of hours of work every week done by people who can only just pay the bills and buy food at the end of it. Some of them can't even do that. But it seems like the boss is never poor. They've always got the best car in the car park, the biggest house in the nicest area. How do they get this?

On a basic level, it's in the interests of a business to spend as little as possible on any expense. That way, the business can maximize profits and the owners of the business get richer than they would if they'd spent more. Your wage is an expense to the business. It's in the interests of the bosses to pay you as little as possible. But it's not in your interest to get paid next to nothing.

So far, so obvious. But why do we have to work at all? So we're not homeless? So we don't starve? Fuck that. Work is enforced drudgery. You work or you're homeless. You work or you starve. But the world of work is run by bosses and politicians. It's run in their interests. What if the working class ran the world of work in our interests?

I'm not talking about the nationalization of industry. All that's going to do is change your boss to some other bastard just as eager to get as much work out of you as possible for as little money as possible. I'm talking about getting rid of the bosses altogether. I'm talking about true workers' control. When we start to take control of our work, we start to take control of our lives.

Look at school, prisons and the "criminal justice" system where work is used as a punishment. At school you might have had to pick up litter from the playground as a punishment, or write lines. After school you might have had to do "community service", which is work as punishment. The prison system in America is a vast production line. And outside this, we have to do the same things just to live.

A working life is not a free life. For all the reasons mentioned above, if we've got no choice but to work, we can't really be free. Work dictates the lives of working people, even when we haven't got a job. So we need to abolish work.

What does this mean? Clearly things still need to be done. People will need to eat, buildings will need to be built, roads and railways will still need looking after. The key is how these things are done. Today these things are done primarily for profit, which is taken by the bosses. It's the way work is done and the way things are run that leads to work being so horrible for the people who have to do it. It's also clear that pretty much all the political parties are in favour of keeping things this way. Most parties are in favour of making things worse for working people in favour of a "strong economy" that most working people don't really benefit from. The rest limit their ambition to demanding that we're allowed to work shit jobs for the rest of our lives by demanding the "right to work". Which is the right to be bullied, monitored and talked down to by a boss for shit money that barely pays the bills.

So how do we abolish work? We need to think of work in a different way. We need work to mean something more than profit for the bosses and mere survival or even punishment for the rest of us. We need to make work benefit the working class as a whole. The working class must take full and collective control of all aspects of work. The bosses who benefit from our work need to go. The politicians who help the bosses and tell us we must work need to go.

But beyond this, work itself needs to change. Work can't be seen as just a means to make things or maintain things. Work needs to become something we enjoy, something that takes into account our need to be creative, our need to have fun. Work and community need to come closer together. And work can't be seen as something we must do. It needs to be something we want to do. Technology should be used to help us do this where possible. Workers must take control of the wave of automation currently underway. Where necessary, unpleasant work should be shared equally.

If the limit of your "revolutionary" political ambition is "Pretty please can we have a job? Any job" then you should get out the way. We don't want to work for shit money and dickhead bosses anymore. If we're unemployed we don't want every fucking minute of our time spent looking for miserable minimum wage work that doesn't pay the bills. We don't want members of a so-called "fighting union" (I’m looking at you, PCS) taking away the pittance we're given to live on if we don't jump through the ridiculous hoops the dole give us.

We want to control our lives. We want to control our work. We want to live, not just exist.

Posted By

AnarchoDoom
Mar 6 2017 19:18

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