Problems with work

by Arran James

Pdf of Kathi Weeks 2011 text The Problem with Work:Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries.

From the introduction:

The domination and subordination experienced at work is not merely incidental to processes of exploitation. Carole Pateman’s analysis of the employment contract is illuminating on this point. By her account, the problem with the labor contract is not just a function of the coerced entry that is ensured by the absence of viable alternatives to waged labor, nor is it only a matter of the inequality that is produced as the result of the contract’s terms. To translate this into a Marxist vocabulary, the problem can be reduced neither to forced labor nor to exploitation. Rather, we need to pay more attention to the relationship of dominance and submission that is authorized by the waged labor contract and that shapes labor’s exercise. Exploitation is possible, Pateman notes, because “the employment contract creates the capitalist as master; he has the political right to determine how the labour of the worker will be used” (1988, 149). This relation of command and obedience, the right of the employer to direct his or her employees that is granted by the contract, is not so much a byproduct of exploitation as its very precondition. [emphasis added].

This has always been what I have considered the proper emphasis, and it is why I have been more ready to identify with the anarchists than the Marxists. How many problems with living are the product of problems with working?