Every so often I review previous issues of The Anticareerist and collect some of the most frequently quoted highlights. Here’s a sampling of my work from the year-in-review.
~ D. JoAnne Swanson
“Anticareerists do not believe it’s wrong to have a career; the point is that a career should not be required for dignity, happiness, belonging, community, a sense of self-worth, or basic survival. Anticareerism is “the opposite of careerism” - we oppose careerism, not careers.
“The main message of The Anticareerist is that "earning a living" is a fundamental structural injustice.”
“If you don’t take whatever work you can find that pays, the world will exact a hefty price. And if you do take whatever work you can find that pays, your soul will exact a hefty price. Because your soul knows that you’re a writer, and you have a calling…So every day that is consumed with “earning a living” instead of pursuing your calling as a writer is a day that will add to your pain.
“And few people will sympathize, especially if you have a job that looks cushy compared to theirs. “Must be a nice problem to have!” they’ll say, because they’ve been conditioned to identify with a culture that dismisses artistic pursuits as mere frivolity. “Real work” is something else. Besides, why should you get the privilege of doing what you love when the rest of us have to content ourselves with whatever jobs we can find?”
“The expectation that we paste on a smile and present as “positive” is just one of the many insidious ways affective labor is extracted from Americans in service of capital – while preventable suffering and structural violence continues on, largely unacknowledged and unaddressed. This pattern can be seen everywhere – from stressed-out (but smiling!) retail workers to the way strangers ask us a perfunctory “how are you?” and the only socially acceptable answer is some variation on “good” or “fine…”
“In a world where we must "earn a living" under threat of poverty if we don't, how can we ever know for sure which employees are taking jobs because they truly want to? How do we know they aren't just doing the emotional labor required to convincingly perform enthusiasm for their jobs, when actually they'd rather be elsewhere?
“We pay an enormous price, individually and collectively, when valuable unpaid work is neglected or not done because we are forced into full-time paid work to "earn a living." When the bulk of our time and energy is consumed by compulsory paid employment, our families and communities are deprived of the benefits that could otherwise be gained through our art, our care, and our service. We often end up too busy, distracted, and exhausted to develop our talents and gifts outside the context of employment. We are deprived of leisure and rest. We are deprived of the joy of offering our work to those who need it without regard to their ability to pay. We are even told, directly and indirectly, that if we don't or can't serve capitalism we become expendable - that our lives have little or no value aside from our ability to be productive on employers' terms.
“This is fundamental moral injustice.”
~ from "Earning a Living" and the Dilemma of Unpaid Work: On the Injustice of a World Without Unconditional Basic Income
“When you do nothing - which is a very active state of being, despite the tarnishing of its reputation by Puritans - you give the larger intelligence room to speak to you and through you, and reveal the next step. Help is available. You’re not alone. As Nan Wishner writes:
“…something larger will move through you if you invite it. Glimpsing this experience is tremendously freeing and invigorating.” […]
“But there’s no map you can study in advance. That’s not how this process works. That’s why you need courage and a strong will. The next step along this path only becomes apparent after you’ve boldly gone forth and taken the previous one. When you act on those golden threads - and sometimes, paradoxically, acting on them means doing nothing - then you step onto a path unique to you. You step onto a path that remained imperceptible from where you once stood.”
“Substack’s model sets in motion a positive feedback loop that benefits both writers and readers, and that’s the heart of why it lured me away from Patreon. Whether I have one subscriber or thousands, I’ll be doing the same amount of work.”
“Dejobbing is a neologism coined by Sophia Gubb to refer to an intermediate stage or adjustment period between compulsory employment and unjobbing. I’ve adopted it to describe my process of identifying and unlearning coercive habits and self-talk acquired through compulsory employment and schooling. I’ve found dejobbing especially important for unlearning habits that interfere with embodied intelligence and creative flow of the daimonic - the calling or divine spark that is uniquely one’s own.”
“One common example of sloppy and politically harmful use of the word “work” shows up frequently in declarations such as “I’m not working” when what we actually mean is “I’m not in the labor pool,” “I don’t have paid employment,” or “I work inside the home.” Many people work in ways that don’t earn an income, and many people are unable to work at all. Our lives are valuable, and none of us should be treated like second-class human beings based on our work or lack thereof. When we use the word “work” in ways that reinforce the dominant cultural narrative that anyone who doesn’t earn an income from their work is “not working,” we contribute to a cultural climate that justifies and perpetuates injustice for these marginalized groups.”
~ from Rethinking the Terminology of Work: Why We Need an Anticareerist-Unjobbing Movement (paid-subscriber-only issue)
“With UBI, I could choose to refuse paid work without risking homelessness or hunger. I could also survive if the company laid me off. That would make all the difference. It would create a space of real choice that permits me to say no without imperiling my own survival. The ability to say no is a prerequisite for true consent. Without the ability to say no to employment, I cannot offer fully consensual work to any employer.”
~ from Building a Consensual Work Culture (paid-subscriber-only issue)
“I find it discouraging that a typical first reaction to the idea of UBI is "but wouldn't people just spend it on drugs or be lazy and not work?" Only in a world that normalizes compulsory employment could it be so widely accepted that people should be driven into jobs by shame about "laziness" and fear of destitution rather than by choice and interest. I think "laziness" is often a healthy resistance - a mutiny of the soul, as Charles Eisenstein calls it - to a coercive job culture. Even if some people were "lazy," though, so what? Who cares? Coercing people into jobs they hate costs us a lot more than providing them with a UBI - not just economically, but also psychologically, socially, culturally, and ecologically. "Lazy" people stuck in ecologically harmful jobs for the sake of a paycheck could do more for the world by quitting their jobs and lying on the couch than they could by staying in those jobs. I'll cheer them on!”
~ from “A Flourishing of the Arts”: Kate McFarland interviews D. JoAnne Swanson of The Anticareerist on Basic Income
(also published on Basic Income News - Part One + Part Two)
“I’m leaving Facebook and Twitter because I want to get back to the full embodied joy of writing that I once knew…The deeper I sink into my contemplative practice, the less I find I can tolerate Facebook and Twitter, because they drain me. They take from me so much more than they give back. […] I don’t want to be exposed to the level of detail Facebook gives me about people’s lives - not even for my closest friends. Cutting down my friends list or posting to restricted custom lists of friends didn’t make much difference; it's the platform itself that is the problem for me. Facebook and Twitter are like a noisy, crowded town square, with neon lights and advertising everywhere trying to grab my attention and profit off my unpaid labor. It's too much for me. I want to immerse myself in quiet endarkened retreat space, from whence my best writing emerges.”
“As long as I’m in a position to enjoy my time, as I am right now, then time is the most precious thing I have. Time is true wealth of the most primal form. Money is not real wealth…but it is a claim on real wealth. All my life I’ve protested compulsory wage labor (“earning a living”) because it steals my real wealth (time) from me and corrals it into the service of economic growth.”