Your Work Here Is Done
Photograph by Charlie Whatley
P O S T
Now the society we once knew is over, it’s finally time to relax. Your job is gone, your boss can’t belittle you anymore. No more rigid breaks, no more timecards, no more clockwatching; you’ve got all the time in the world. This does mean that there are no more excuses. Work was once the Great Excuse, the reason you never learned to do anything. ‘I’d love to, but between work and the kids I just never get around to it.’ You’d go off to a festival in the summer, watch people being quaint on sewing machines and marvel at blacksmiths in tents: whilst making a piece of tatty jewelry you’d remark on the craft of it all, but on Monday it’d be time to go back to the office, to slip on the slave-produced shoes and talk about how it was all so amazing and cute and never learn what you were supposed to.
These pop-up faux-utopias, like spas and retreats and all of the commodified ‘experiences’, are glimpses at slower ways of life yet treated only as minor escapes from ‘real life’. Well, the shackles are off and you can write or sew all day (taking time out to hunt or forage or farm or murder). The shame is that some people just don’t get it, they don’t like their freedom. Now they’ll be in their basements hanging from their ties, lost with too much free time, mourning the death of the Economy. Going to work was the easiest thing they’d ever done, they weren’t prepared to build anything real, but they were prepared to work all of the hours thrown at them.
Bankers got used to it quick, always working, fitting in a few beers before taking the tube ride home, sleeping, slipping back into their uniform, squeezing back on the tube and getting back to whatever they do in those shining towers we worked so hard to take down. They got used to it, it was what they had to do to make a living, to make more than a living, to become rich, to elevate themselves away from the rest. Their feelings of power blinded them to the truth that they were the victim, that their feeling of superiority towards the ball-scratching artist or the wide-eyed hedonist was misplaced. But we didn’t feel sorry for them either because they were part of the problem.
People were persuaded to work as hard as possible to take that long climb to the top, stepping on the rest to get there, in the name of some faceless corporation. This was the perfect conditioning, this enforcing of the ideals of hierarchies, to keep people in line. Those who have to deny their missteps of youth, their personal preferences to bland in with the crowd, to make it seem like they were promotion material, one of the lads (forget about the women, they’re in that glass box over there). Go out with the boys, get pissed, shit in a bus shelter for banter, but don’t dare mention the time you loved to smoke weed, you dirty hippy.
General animosity and ideals of hard work forced divides where there should be none. Protesters looking out for the good of everyone, making themselves targets, were looked upon as of ‘in need of a good wash’ by the working class they sought to protect. Artists creating work to inspire thought and rebellion were cast aside with the writers and philosophers whilst the People spent their hard-earned money on mass-produced culture. The clue was in the title people, how can one make pop music from the top down unless they’ve targeted you, conditioned you to Believe that it’s good? And so the people kept going to work, blasting their car horns at protests, in condemnation rather than support. ‘I’m late for work because of these fucking hippies!’
The clues were all there, the unhappiness was simmering. People spent their money on adapting how they looked, appropriating cultures and sub-cultures to appear as something they’re not. Fashions won and you just couldn’t tell what people believed anymore. That man with arms covered in tattoos isn’t going to crush you with a bar stool, he’s going to sit on it and order some beer that he doesn’t like just to look the part. At home the world was finding catharsis in drama and visions of the apocalypse. Popular culture upped its production value and brought the world in. Workplaces all over the Western world buzzed with identical talk about the new must-watch series. It took a while to find something to give to people that was more respectable than soap operas but they did it!
That’s not to say the soaps didn’t thrive, just that the TV eventually attacked the middle classes too. The working class still saw needless drama and incestuous, stagnant culture as a sound way of life. Keep them down there, on their way out. The government had planned on this for years, they needed rid of the working class they’d created, there just wasn’t the work anymore. Technology fed industry and pegged back the poor. They were a solid consumer base, but also in the way. All land was up for sale, council estates were inner-city space savers, ‘you can’t live here anymore it was badly designed, there’ll be new homes here, but not for you, you’re off to a truly failed place. Oh, and your free healthcare, that’s got to go.’
Hard work is a good thing, a necessity now, but pushing in the right direction and working hard for yourself is entirely separate from staring at screens and processing information, or these long hours of repetitive factory labour. This kind of conditioning allowed for these soft-headed people to be taken out first. They needed to be told what to do, but the leader was against them. When it came to choosing the enemy, they chose wrong. The offices were built with gyms, to sharpen bodies and mind. If you’ve got goals you can push yourself, achieve fitness. Of course, it’s good to be fit, especially when you’re running for your life but vanity muscles give you unnecessary bulk. Those with poor turning circles are no match for a madman with a shovel. These people had necks they could barely move and minds they could barely use.
And here we are, free from our contracts but still being headhunted. It’s a shame we didn’t sort this out earlier, that the poor never really identified their abusers and that the rest didn’t see through the systems. Too many people killed themselves rather than their boss. They should’ve found the shareholders and the people who sign off on the sadness, burned them in their homes, but they blamed themselves, for not being able to handle the pressure. The dick-swinging, the manliness, the biceps bursting out of their suits. The hierarchies, the competition, the fucking supervisors. Work was the reason people did the worst things they ever did, either directly or indirectly. This led to a loss of humanity and personality, to people identifying with roles and pay brackets rather each other. Blind to the systems we were caught in we have reached this point, this cultural apocalypse where we have more time to find what will really make us happy.