Is Your Job Bullshit? David Graeber on Capitalism’s Busy Work


From In These Times: Over a third of British workers believe their job makes no meaningful contribution to the world. The rising number of people who have “bullshit jobs” may be leading to increased psychological distress and physical illness.

“Psychologist Karl Groos used this phrase, and it always struck me, ‘the pleasure of being a cause.’ When children first realize that when they knock something over, they can do it again in the same way and it will have the same result, there is a kind of pure joy and happiness. This becomes the basis of your sense of agency and sense of self for the rest of your life.

When you deprive children of that agency, they almost feel catatonic. That shows we are creatures who need projects of transforming the world around us. If we can’t do that, we hardly exist.

So this theory of human nature promulgated by economists and right-wing politicians that people basically want something for nothing—that if you just give them money they’re going to laze around and watch TV and get drunk all day—it’s not true.”

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