Federico Campagna, co-editor of What We are Fighting for: A Radical Collective Manifesto (Pluto, 2012) has written a Comment is Free piece for the Guardian this week. He argues that the cult of hard work has a sideline in ‘partying till you drop. Who needs fulfilment or control over our destiny?’ (That last question being rhetorical of course…)
Launched in September 2013, Britney Spears’ latest single Work B**ch is the most recent production in the new genre of motivational work music. Spears’ lyrical efforts (You wanna live fancy? / Live in a big mansion? / Party in France? / You better work bitch, you better work bitch) sit alongside gems such as David Guetta’s anthem Work Hard Play Hard([It’s] the only thing we know how to do / We work hard, play hard / Keep partyin’ like it’s your job).
But the joint venture of work and party ethics exceeds the commercial music scene, as rave parties have also recently produced their own motivational, work-oriented subgenre, to be enjoyed just before office hours. Having been the soundtrack to the dark rebelliousness of ’80s and ’90s cyber culture, house and techno rhythms seem to have found a new role as the chamber music of an increasingly aggressive work culture. Which is something that restaurant cooks, working 10-hour shifts over a happy hardcore soundtrack, have long learned to enjoy.
To a British audience, this could hardly sound like news. Perhaps reassured by Max Weber’s claim that their Protestantism justifies their obsessive work ethics, Anglo-Saxons have long embraced work as a religion for contemporary times. As with any religion, it is not a matter of dealing with it in any effective or functional way, but rather of engaging in it with blind enthusiasm. In an age struggling between crises of economic overproduction, environmental catastrophe, falling salaries and increasing robotisation, there cannot be any other explanation for the current culture of “hard work” than that of a burgeoning religious cult. After the collapse of all 20th century ideologies – including capitalism, which until 2008 claimed to be the only explanation for everything in the world – it might be the discomforting feeling of having an empty sky above our heads that has pushed millions of people to recreate a new, seemingly ideologically neutral religion: work.
You can read the rest of the article on the Guardian website, by clicking here. Check out his recent book, What We are Fighting for, on the Pluto website. It’s available for just £13 including free UK P&P.