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Bullshit Jobs - David Graeber

I always give Graeber good reviews. He’s one of my all time favorite authors, and this is one of his best books.

None of Graeber’s books are particularly easy to read, but that is one of the things I love about his writing - his run on sentences and hyper hyphenated concepts are very dense and thought provoking, and very enjoyable to me.

Having said that, this is probably his most accessible book, and his clearest thesis. Though the concept of BS jobs is relatively simple - tentatively defined as those jobs which the employees themselves know are of no value to society - Graeber of course manages to layer this concept with much depth and original thinking.

I haven’t actually worked a BS job myself, but I have worked jobs that plainly suck, which he differentiated from those with no value. But even in my jobs that did serve an obvious purpose beyond paying myself, I sympathized deeply with many stories of BS jobs, for I have also endured pointless meetings, paperwork, and pointless pretend work, such as sweeping an already clean floor just because I’m on “someone else’s time.”

It is estimated that around 40% of all modern jobs are completely or mostly BS, and so I imagine that a lot of people will find cathartic value in learning that they are not alone. But more importantly, many defenders of capitalism or the status quo, or the idea that technology has improved our lives, will have many of their beliefs deeply challenged by this work.

I think this concept definitely needs to be better understood. Graeber argues that many of the forces perpetuating this dysfunctional dystopia are political, which includes all of us.

There isn’t much on what to actually do about the problem - the book is about the problem itself. But near the end Graeber offers some thoughts on the solution, which I found very well articulated and have made me rethink something I strongly disagreed with until I finished the book (universal basic income). Graeber identifies as an anarchist, and so do I, so it was weird to see him argue for more gov in this case. But he laid it out well, arguing that it would decrease gov by eliminating the glut of BS jobs in government.

Highly recommend.