Work and It’s Changing Nature

I have recently read two articles that look at the changing nature of work/value creation and while coming from a different perspective, arrive at similar constructs, though this may not be obvious at first glance.

The first article (The Old Model of Work is Broken by Charles Smith | Of Two Minds) approaches the issue with an eye to avoid commoditization of one’s work, since that will be soon replaced by automation, instead learn to create value that is difficult to commoditize. He sees a new definition of work where “each participant creates the work and owns the value proposition.”

The second article (A Practical Utopian’s Guide To The Coming Collapse: David Graeber On “The Phenomenon Of Bull$hit Jobs by Michael Kreiger | Liberty Blitzkrieg) postulates the insight that “our political and economic system is in fact a centrally planned oligarchy masquerading as a free market.” In many ways it approximates the same problems to work that commoditization brings.

Both approaches take creativity and fun out of work opting instead for rules, limits, and predictability of outcome (a calculable ROI). Both approaches argue for the liberation of the individual worker as creative entity who “owns” the value they create which in turn allows them to put value into their work process.

The important source thinker for Kreiger’s article, David Graeber, wrote a piece, “A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse” in which he said, “Labor is virtuous if it helps others. A renegotiated definition of productivity should make it easier to reimagine the very nature of what work is, since, among other things, it will mean that technological development will be redirected less toward creating ever more consumer products and ever more disciplined labor, and more toward eliminating those forms of labor entirely.”

Eliminating those forms of labor entirely would mean labor would be redirected toward value creating efforts. Graeber sees those forms embodied in mothers, teachers, caregivers, and in work that frees imagination, desire, and individual creativity, a lot of which is acytualized in play.

I love articles like these that get my thinking juices flowing and expose me to thought models I haven’t previously considered. As to how this might fit in with my current concern of a serious social event occuring this year that will radically change our lives, at the end of Graeber’s article he says:

“At the moment, the planet might seem poised more for a series of unprecedented catastrophes than for the kind of broad moral and political transformation that would open the way to such a world. But if we are going to have any chance of heading off those catastrophes, we’re going to have to change our accustomed ways of thinking. And as the events of 2011 reveal, the age of revolutions is by no means over.”

Let’s hope those “catastrophes” are avoided, but it makes sense to be ready for whatever happens, as I have previously stated.

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