Suffering With a Smile

From a really excellent article about the nature of modern work by Mark Fisher.

At the top of the tower, there is no liberation from work. There is just more work – the only difference is that you might now enjoy it. For these CEOs, work is closer to an addiction than something they are forced to do. In a provisional formulation, we might want to posit a new way of construing class antagonism. There are now two classes: those addicted to work, and those forced to work.


What we are forced into is not merely work, in the old sense of undertaking an activity we don’t want to perform; no, now we are forced to act as if we want to work. Even if we want to work in a burger franchise, we have to prove that, like reality TV contestants, we really want it.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “Suffering With a Smile”

  1. Fraser says:

    Right on. See also Dead Man working, Cederstrom and Fleming, Zero Books: ‘Whereas under Fordism workers could mentally tell the boss to “fuck off” as they left the factory, now they take it home with them. Turning-off is no longer an available option. Might this not be capitalism’s ultimate Frankensteinian moment? (Recall the curse Frankenstein received from his jilted monster: “I shall be with you on your wedding night.”‘
    Capitalism’s current form, they argue, relies upon the human qualities of ‘social intelligence, reciprocity, communication and shared initiative’, which has necessitated the permeation of work into hitherto distinct and separate areas of non-working life (while at the same time shoehorning themes and aspects of non-work life into work, with workers coerced into dreadful ‘fun’ activities, the encouragement of highly personalised workspaces (‘You are forced, weirdly, to be yourself’)and apparent flexibility of working hours ‘so as to extract value from every waking moment of an employee’s day’.
    The chapter I am particularly ransacking here ends by quoting an essay called ‘Dreaming in Code’ by Rob Lucas, which details the development of it’s author’s tendency to dream ‘solutions to complex code conundrums’ in his sleep. ‘Dreaming about your work is one thing, dreaming inside the logic of your work is another…’

  2. Bleh. It’s properly dystopian. Feels like I was born into the beginnings of the end times.

    Cheers for the book recommendation. Have added it to my wish list.

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