Both Livingston and Jorion say paid work in labor markets is destined to decline, but I think this is far from clear. A cursory look at the US statistics indicates as such. In the celebrated post-WWII US economy the civilian labor force participation rate never reached more than 58 percent in 1953 during the Korean War. Then, it fell to 55.2 percent in 1961. Congress held hearings on “automation.” But what is the labor force participation rate today? In April 2018 it was 60.3 percent. So more people are working today than during the vaunted golden age of capitalism,...Read More
Month: August 2018
What lies in the future? What is inevitable, what is possible, what is inherent and what is to be chosen? Paul Jorion’s introduction to the French translation of James Livingston’s No More Work is an essay on these questions in relation to the future of work, and of resource distribution beyond wages. Jorion neatly challenges the link between livelihood and work. But though Jorion echoes Livingston’s deep skepticism of our attachment to (and moralization of) work (or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say, of wage labor), he falls into three common traps in thinking about such futures....Read More
Public Image Ltd. The Public Image is Rotten (Songs from the Heart) Virgin PiL hasn’t been on Virgin Records in a long-time, since the early 90s, before the official break occasioned by John Lydon returning to the Sex Pistols to make filthy lucre on tour. But, here we are, with a 5-set compilation from Virgin that includes some tracks of the two most recent PiL albums, This is PiL (2012) and What the World Needs Now (2015), both of which they released themselves. There isn’t really a lot to report here in a lot of ways. Despite vague promises of never-before-heard tracks and remixes, there isn’t a lot here a dedicated fan hasn’t heard, and most of it was on the Plastic Box boxset in 1999. But, it is worth noting that this compilation is the soundtrack to a new documentary about PiL of the same name. But what I found interesting about this compilation is that I have always thought that whilst PiL is Lydon’s bus, it is impossible to take its ouevre as a single, digestible piece. PiL is best understood in periods. The first period, which included the brilliant Jah Wobble on bass and Keith Levene on guitar, officially ended when Levene wandered off in 1983. Wobble had left in 1980. From 1983 to 1985, PiL was essentially Lydon and drummer extraordinaire Martin Atkins (one of the best Twitter follows...Read More
My condensation of the 2016 book, No More Work (UNC Press), for Aeon, the online magazine, reverted to the original title, “Fuck Work.” That piece went totally viral. To date it has received over a million reads (not hits, actual reads that last 14 minutes) and roughly 90,000 Facebook shares. WTF? Paul Jorion, a French sociologist andf all-around intellectual, noticed the traffic, and enjoyed the argument, so he commissioned a translation and a comment for his blog. Then he went further and pitched a translation of the book to Flammarion, the esteemed French publishing house. That translation is now in print, with...Read More
This is Paul Jorion’s preface to Fuck work! Pour une vie sans travail (Flammarion), translated by Matthew Barlow and Bruce Robbins. The text you are about to read will energize you. I took great pleasure in reading Livingston’s book, and I hope you will not deny yourself that pleasure. I first came across his ideas in the journal Aeon in November 2016. I read his article, laughed a lot, and looked for someone who could, despite its length, translate it for my Blog de Paul Jorion. Its publication in September 2017, followed by a response by Madeleine Théodore in...Read More
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