I’m struggling a bit with Paul Manson’s Postcapitalism but at least it has this:
Not a bad description of a young wage slave, that. Violent resentment is right!
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Issue Three is the most popular issue of New Escapologist we’ve ever done.
Seven years on, it still sells well. Who knows why?
Maybe it’s for the emphasis on practicalities. Maybe it’s for the very funny piece about skiving at work. Maybe it’s for the lovely interview with Tom Hodgkinson.
Whatever the reason for the issue’s popularity, we’re going to honor its godfather status by giving it away for free on PDF to everyone on the New Escapologist mailing list.
Many will know we ran a similar give-away for Issue Twelve last month. The response was encouraging, so we’re doing this one more (and only one more!) time.
Join the list today and we’ll send out the PDF on August 1st.
Can you believe it? There’s going to be a German edition of Escape Everything! called Ich Bin Raus, which means “I’m Out”.
I’m very happy that the life of the book is now longer than I originally imagined.
Here’s a page about the new edition, though it’s probably only useful if you happen to speak German.
It’s entertaining (for me) to see these all-too-familiar pages in translation. Since I only speak English and a little French, these pages should be unreadable but I can still mysteriously read them thanks to intense familiarity with the original.
Look, here’s “Foreword by David Cain” in German! “Vorwort von David Cain”. Cool.
The Guardian has a feature in which anonymous people submit letters they don’t have the courage to send. It’s a bit like when an office worker spends Monday afternoon pecking out a scornful email to the boss without actually clicking send, except now there’s an outlet for it.
This example is from a man who exhausts himself as a lawyer while his wife looks after the children at home. He’s bitter about this because he’s shouldering the family’s financial burden alone and can’t see a sign of it stopping:
I don’t think I can do this for another 25 years. I often dream of leaving my firm for a less demanding position, with you making up any financial deficit with a job – even a modest one – of your own. I’ve asked, and sometimes pleaded, for years with you to get a job, any job. Many of my free hours are spent helping with the house and the kids, and I recognise that traditional gender roles are often oppressive, but that cuts both ways.
It’s easy to dismiss this as the sour grapes of privilege (boohoo, the poor man with his social mobility) but when you think of work as a curse, as I do, instead of a gummy medallion, one can sympethise. It’s also a reminder that the benefits of gender equity aren’t exclusively for women but for the whole of society.
If this couple left the traditional breadwinner/homemaker gender roles in the dustbin of history and shared the duties of moneymaking and domestic work, I think the whole family would be a lot happier.
This is about society’s shitty attitude towards women and its exoneration of work. Through these idiot values, we’ve come to look down our noses on housework and parenting as if they weren’t vitally important, and arrived at a labour market where it’s difficult to find rewarding part-time work. The result is a shadow society of unrewarded home-makers and an aboveground society of burned-out husks.
Things are changing but far too slowly.
Funnily enough, my next Idler column (Idler No. 50) is about how cohabiting couples can help each other escape the rat race as a domestic tag team while staying in love.
From The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by the brilliant Haruki Murakami.
We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodely do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.
I’ve always thought was the best poem in the world.
Here’s a bit from a Charlie Brooker column 17 years ago. Still funny.
Last weekend’s referendum saw UBI democratically rejected in Switzerland. The people’s choice! Offered Utopia, they don’t want it.
Actually, it’s not that simple. UBI (Citizen’s Income) is a huge idea and is competing with the deeply-ingrained Protestant work ethic. We may need to destroy work worship before (or at least in tandem) with a successful UBI campaign. It’s also expensive and nobody’s quite crunched the numbers convincingly yet, despite noble efforts.
A decent summary of the current state of play in the Guardian is sympathetic to UBI but says the next round of campaigning must be stronger in its numbers.
Before it can be seriously considered for a manifesto, further cost-saving compromises – such as restrictions for citizens who already receive a state pension – may need to be considered. The trick, then, as so often in progressive politics, will be to dream big, and then proceed with care.
Meanwhile, the Economist published a largely superb piece summing up the situation.
Both supporters and critics agree that universal basic incomes would challenge the centrality of paid work to the way people live.
I read it looking for a good argument against UBI but the ones present were a bit flimsy. For instance, the concern that the world would become filled by pointless ice cream parlours as a result of a new play ethic:
Hans Peter Rubi, a 64-year-old in the small town of Olten […] was given a pension of SFr2,600 on being sent into early retirement, and became an entrepreneur. He has used his pension to start an exotic ice-cream parlour. The avocado ice cream is proving difficult to perfect, and the innovation of staying open through the winter has yet to pay off. He needs a good summer for the business to be profitable; but he can afford to fail. “My security now is that I have my basic income. It gives a security to take a basic challenge.” … In a world of universal basic incomes, it is possible that the streets would be lined with mostly empty ice-cream shops, as people used society’s largesse on projects no one really needs.
The dystopian image of streets empty of all but unfrequented ice cream parlours is a chilling one (no pun intended) and one I’ve thought of before, but I don’t think it would happen, at least not in any permanent way. Research shows that (a) most people wouldn’t stop working in normal jobs anyway and (b) after a period of too many of these leisure follies we’d realise the mistake and move onto the next big paradigm, be it idling or space travel.
So UBI was rejected in Switzerland but it really does feel like this is just the beginning of a huge international discussion. Back when we mentioned Srnicek and Williams’ book, Inventing the Future, I said “It feels like the cartridge is loaded” and I think that’s been born out. Mainstream political parties are discussing it now.
Speaking of booky-wooks, I highly recommend Utopia for Realists by UBI campaigner Rutger Bregman. His argument is mainly a pragamatic approach to UBI but he also sticks up for a 15-hour standard workweek and open borders. Weirdly, he and I got off to a bad start (I didn’t care for the first few pages because I disagree with the “nasty, brutish and short” progress argument and a naff quip about dishwashers being great) but I was soon caught up in his optimism and research-based reasoning. Good stuff.
Any old hoo, until we get UBI there’s Escapology. Break free! Run! Save yourselves!
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Good news item about the rise of Universal Basic Income, the pending Swiss referendum (all eyes on Switzerland this weekend!) and the various pilot schemes due to go ahead in 2017:
Crucially, [UBI] is also an idea that seems to resonate across the wider public. A recent poll by Dalia Research found that 68% of people across all 28 EU member states said they would definitely or probably vote for a universal basic income initiative. Finland and the Netherlands have pilot projects in the pipeline.
This weekend the concept faces its first proper test of public opinion, as Switzerland votes on a proposal to introduce a national basic income.
Probably best to overlook this weird little (I suspect editorial) addition though:
In an increasingly digital economy, it would also provide a necessary injection of cash so people can afford to buy the apps and gadgets produced by the new robot workforce.