George Orwell Explains It All. In Rhyme.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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28 Responses

  1. Patrick says:

    He shut the door, asked me if I had spoken to anyone else about this, told me to *NOT* speak to anyone else about this, delete my worksheets, delete my notes, and NEVER TALK ABOUT THIS AGAIN.

    I really hope at some point somebody really, really got held to account for that. Because that, right there, stinks to high heaven.Report

  2. Saul Degraw says:

    I think the new term for this is bullshit jobs. There is also the whole “Shopcraft as Souldcraft movement.”

    Most of my work has been at very small companies even if they were relatively large by the standards of the industry. I’ve also been very lucky that I have always understood what I was paid to do even if bored at times at work. I take this as a blessing.

    The interesting issue with Marxist Alienation/BS jobs is whether it is objective or subjective. I think my allies on the left go too far when claiming that it is objective and that work is a tool for social control. The example in the BS jobs essay was a guy who used to be a punk rocker but his lover got pregnant and he decided to go to law school for the kid. He clearly would rather be doing punk rock over corporate law. I’ve heard many similar stories. I also know many people who really enjoy being lawyers including corporate lawyers. Is corporate law a BS job or is it just a BS job for a particular kind of person?

    I think PR work would make me pretty miserable but others could sincerely like it.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Or can a Corporate Lawyer have BS work that alienates him from his craft? In my dealings with corporate contract lawyers, the answer is clearly yes. Not everyone gets to work on the cool M&A projects (if that’s what one went in to corporate law for).

      I think Alienation is extremely high in the workforce right now (but I don’t have a cool wonkblog chart for it). It’s not a function of what you do, but what it is that is being done.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I don’t think that is something you can prove in a chart but you are probably right.

        I would say it depends on the person. The tone of the essay seemed to suggest that the guy just really wanted to do punk rock though you raise an interesting possibility.

        I think people feel disconnected from abstract work a lot. If you work as a furniture maker as an example, you finish the day with something real, tangible, and useable. Not everyone feels this with writing briefs or working on a marketing campaign.Report

      • Patrick in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I think Alienation is extremely high in the workforce right now (but I don’t have a cool wonkblog chart for it). It’s not a function of what you do, but what it is that is being done.

        It’s also affected by the ability to change.

        You don’t like your job, but inertia keeps you from looking for another job? Eh, that’s you deciding to put up with the job.

        You don’t like your job, and the economy is in the crapper so you probably can’t find another job? That’s a lot bigger psychic burden.

        Even if you would still suffer from inertia…Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      What’s weird is that, when I started, I had every intention of being one of the best and brightest temps there because I just knew that once the big corporation saw how awesome I was, they’d hire me away for themselves.

      The problem is that this was right at the transition of companies saying “well, if it’s not part of our core competency, we will outsource it to a company where it is their core competency, and save money on overhead in the process.”

      So they went from being a company that was renowned for being an awesome company to work for (one that did a great job of stealing the best and brightest from other companies) to being Just Another Company. As I watched, I saw the formerly best and brightest around me grow sick and tired of working at a bullshit job. The good coders and admins got bought out and the institutional knowledge and memory went with them.

      Though the stock price went up for a few quarters.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Marxist alienation is both objective and subjective. We have billions of adults and the general set up of society is that you need to work to live or at least have a semi-decent life. Much of the work that most people do is in the aggregate maybe kind of pointless because it doesn’t exactly produce anything spectacular in the world but many people manage to find importance and joy in what they do even if it looks like a bullshit job to other people. Other people just don’t like work and will never find their meaning in their job but might find it elsewhere.

      The nature of work isn’t really the cause of alienation for the most part. What causes the alienation is the feeling that what you are doing is unimportant or maybe that its important but you aren’t being listened to or respected like how Jaybird described it above. If employers could make employees feel that what they are dong is important or that they are needed in a genuinely respectful way rather than in a patronizing way as it usually seems to be done than fewer people are going to feel alienated.Report

    • Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Reminds me of working at the Lazy B. New engineers do the engineering scut work until they had enough time in to do more interesting things (about 10 years), not because it took that long to train them, but because seniority & politics.

      It’s hard to do scut work for 10 years when all your college buddies are doing super cool things at smaller, more nimble companies & startups, and telling you all about it.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    And Douglas Stuart was a well-known bookie whose slogan was “Duggie Always Pays” (as opposed to less savory ones who might disappear rather than pay off a big winner.)Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    @jaybird, I never imagined you as a blonde. ;).Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    I don’t get the second line of the fifth stanza: “Roach in a shaded stream,” at all. The rest of it is a bucolic vision of an imperfect but relatively more peaceful and pleasant time than the present (which is to say, 1935, but it could just as easily be eighty years later from the standpoint of Orwell’s complaint).

    But a roach’s presence seems like a serious and jarring flaw with that reverie.Report