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THE RESISTANCE ISSUE

 


Dear Outsiders,

Do you ever get the feeling that work/life balance is an old concept? The lines are increasingly blurred. When am I working and when am I not? Visiting a museum on the weekend, contemplating, ideas arriving. An ah-ha moment for that puzzling brief we left on Friday. Physically I am out of office, yet mentally I am there.

Welcome to the knowledge economy.

We are the cognitive workers and our brains don't turn off. These are the not-so-new conditions of our working class. The boundaries are fading and their defence is complicated. Perhaps the only place of true resistance anymore is that of sleep. Imagine that! Sleep as strike.

It is a regime of exploitation, fashionably described as precarity; a political attack on people's conditions of life.

Today I want to imagine other forms of resistance with you. How to be against from within. Like the workerists of 1960's Italy who brought to light new forms of struggle and their multiplicity (when the assembly line no longer needed a skilled worker, but somebody 'unskilled' who could perform repetitive and standardised tasks – kind of like us and AI!). A new microphysical landscape of resistance emerged;  refusal  to work, sabotage, individual and collective resistance to the organisation of workplace disciplines.

It doesn't have to be big and dramatic. It can be micro and subversive. Against from within as worker political power; as refuge and reaction to exploitation.

Read on,

Jess
 


 


Outsider 138

AGAINST FROM WITHIN

 

Micro-Methods for Resisting Exploitation


 
 
 
Can I ask you a few questions?
 
  1. Do you ever work overtime that is unpaid? This includes staying late, starting early, doing emails from home, having to go to an event after-hours cause your attendance may be of benefit to the company...
     
  2. Did you accept lower-than-wanted pay because "the name will look good on your CV" (double points if your employer leveraged themselves during negotiations, triple points if you were made to feel lucky to even receive their stingy offer)?
     
  3. Does it feel like you need to continuously prove your level of dedication? Reinforce your value to the team? Find ways to go beyond?
     
  4. Have you ever been 'promoted' to a new position or acquired new responsibilities without accompanying financial retribution?

If you answered yes to any of the above, congratulations. You're part of the Exploitation-As-Usual gang. Welcome!
 
 
These situations have become so normalised we don't even see them anymore. It is completely accepted to compromise a proper and deserved wage for the 'cultural capital' you are given by the privilege of working for said employer. We are made to feel guilty if we leave on time, as if it shows lack of dedication. We are made to feel we should be 'grateful' for being offered a generous one year contract – as opposed to their typical six month contract for starters.

I've been offered the promotion I was hoping for, only to be told while they looked for the new hire I would have to do both roles...

WTF.

Enough.

I'm done with being exploited. And I'm done with pretending like this is all okay, "it's just how it is". No.

The same day you say there will be no pay rises this quarter, I see your ugly Acne clothes being delivered in boxes to the office.

What I present to you today are strategies for resistance. Ways to play their exploitation game, to turn the tables and stay under the radar.

I understand that not everyone is in the position to refuse working late – risk of firing is real for some. It may be that to not email on the weekends is a luxury you cannot afford. Perhaps it took you months to find a position in your field and an underpaid one was 100x better than none. That is why these small acts of resistance are humorous, fun and virtually invisible. All I want you to do is reclaim a small sense of autonomy, a little sprinkle of F YOU that can bring some alleviation to your day.

We begin the wise words of comedian Hamish Blake; ever reliable for work subversion.
 
 
 


If you're not spending at least 50% of the day in the toilet, you're not working smart."




Unionised visible strike is so old school.
Refuse to work, incognito.

 

"The refusal of work — which is better defined as a refusal of the alienation and exploitation of living time — has been the main engine of innovation, of technological development and knowledge."

 

– Franco Berardi



 

AN ACT OF RESISTANCE:
  1. Grab a pen and paper and go to the bathroom
     
  2. Once you're in the stall, lock the door and start autonomous drawing. As absurd as possible. GO WILD. This should not be productive or rational, this is not for your instagram feed or side project. Make an anti-Capitalist statement by doing something FOR NO REASON!
     
  3. Spend as long as you like doing this. Try to get out of your mind. Shake guilt. Let flow take over. Lose track of time.
     
  4. When you're done, screw up the paper and put it in the bin. Tear it up and flush it. Whatever. Your choice.
     
  5. Smile maniacally. Feel a rush of liberation and give yourself a commendation on your first micro-rebellion!

Jokes aside, identifying these ways our fears and vulnerabilities are preyed (and played) upon by employers is important.

Do try to be defensive of your time. (I enjoy the phrase "decolonise your time"). Set boundaries around email hours and use of your personal phone for work matters. Vocalise team respect and solidarity. Maintain hobbies. Our neo-liberal environments say that overwork is better than underwork but that's not right.
 
 
 

Recall this crazy, passé thing called 'common sense' and disobey the notion that
 

 

busy is better!


 



You don't have to be productive in all you do; read fiction rather than non-fiction, talk to a stranger just because, choose a random ingredient at the supermarket you've never used before and make something to try it out. Feel free.


With us here it feels we can find solidarity in our exploitation and transform it into a mutual empowerment. Don't get dark on your colleague who doesn't reply to emails at night. Resist playing into the narrative that not-overworking is a sign of not being committed. You can still give a shit, and care about life outside.


Stay alert and stay critical. Do you have ideas for mini-liberations? If you do, I would love to hear them.
 

See you in the bathroom,

– Jess
jh@outsider.works
 
>>> QUOTE <<<

 

 

" Don't do something. Just sit there."
Ajahn Chah - Buddhist Monk

 

>>> QUOTE <<<

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY
 
Outsider is a counter-culture punch from inside the creative industry.

Promoting real life interaction. Pro-offline.


It came into being after watching client after client come seeking 'relevance' with 'millennials' and crying inside. Seeing misconceptions on the efficacy of social media rise. 

Named Outsider as, like Outsider Art, we observed that no/informal training cultivates greater instinct and disregard for 'rules' and established systems.

    
Jess is a pseudonym to keep the digital footprint of our real identity to zero.

Born 1991 but knowing better than old man CEO's.

Secret Access to past issues here.



 
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