For now, forget about work-life balance. A major preoccupation when the economy was humming along nicely, "having time for outside interests has to go right out the window now," says Bright. "You need to concentrate on doing whatever it takes to make yourself indispensable."I am regularly reminded by friends, family and media that, with the state of the economy, I need to put my nose to the grindstone, be productive and simply be thankful that I still have a job. The unspoken urging is also that I shouldn't grumble or complain, and should rely on the folks in power to fix up what is supposed to be a minor speed bump.
Naomi Klein uses the phrase "disaster capitalism" to describe particular instances of capitalist restructuring after conflicts, crises or natural disasters -- but the authors of the "End of the world" essay in Harbinger #5 would consider capitalism a state of constant disaster. Nevertheless, Klein's examples lay a foundation for interpreting capitalist restructuring during the current crisis and remembering who benefits from government intervention.
The demands forced on us in times of economic crises remind me of Harry Cleaver's interpretation of capitalism, and how crisis is used to intensify the "boundless imposition of work":
Capitalism is not just a social system which exploits people through work, such that we can think about ending the exploitation and keeping the work, it is a social system which tendentially subordinates all of life to work and by so doing alienates those it forces to work and prevents them from developing their own paths of self-realization. The subordination of life to work means not only are we forced to work long hours--such long hours that we have little energy left over for other activities--but that those other activities tend to be reduced to the mere recreation of life as labor power, i.e., the willingness and ability to work.I also want to toss in a link to the section on work from a translation of "The Coming Insurrection," which points out capitalism's method of survival is by intensifying production and inventing more work -- keeping busy for the sake of keeping busy and maintaining commodity flow:
To work today is less about the economic need of producing commodities than about the political need to produce producers and consumers, to save the order of work by any means necessary.These quotes have been on my mind as I contemplate the inanity of my own job -- its total crushing of my mind and spirit, and yet my own inability to quit (lacking both means and will).