If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll note that it is no longer called Radical Unjobbing. Hereafter, I will refer to this blog by its new name:
Rethinking the Job Culture.**
The change came about after I spent some time pondering the range of responses I have received whenever new acquaintances find out that I’m a writer, and ask what I write about.
I noticed something interesting about these conversations: most often, I would feel very hesitant to tell my querents right off the bat that one of my main projects is a blog entitled “Radical Unjobbing” and a book manuscript with a similar theme (working title: On the Leisure Track: Creating Radical Alternatives to Conventional Employment.) Usually, I would just respond that I am working on a long-term book project about “philosophy of work and leisure.” That description provided enough information about the subject matter to answer the question, and did so in a way that rarely resulted in further questioning, except perhaps by other hardcore philosophy nerds whose interest had been piqued.
But why, I asked myself, did I always hesitate to mention that my blog was called Radical Unjobbing, and why did I so often describe my work in a way that discouraged further questions? After all, this is a project that is very close to my heart; it’s a labour of love in every conceivable sense. I believe in it. Why shouldn’t I be singing its praises, so to speak, whenever I have a chance?
That line of questioning helped me realize that it was time for Radical Unjobbing to adopt a new name.
Why? Because inviting further questioning is exactly what I want to do. Yet the old name was somehow working at cross-purposes.
I want to create a space for deeper questions and ongoing respectful dialogue. I want to encourage critical thinking of the sort that is rigorous, heart-centered, and spiritually motivated. I want to do my part to encourage our culture to get past our initial resistance to the notion of a way of life that isn’t centered around jobs and earning money. I want to explore as fully as possible the terrain that lies beyond our job-centered ways of thinking and living.
But I don’t want to preach only to the choir. I don’t want to shout into an echo chamber. And I really don’t want to get sidetracked into fractious political arguments about anarchism and libertarianism and capitalism and socialism and objectivism and The System and The Man and left vs. right and corporate greed and who’s greener than whom. After many years on the Internet, I have concluded that a good number of these “discussions” are mostly a waste of valuable time, especially as they tend to degenerate into name-calling with astonishing rapidity.
There are all sorts of erroneous and half-baked ideas floating around out there about what a “radical” is, and these ideas bear little resemblance to the heart of what I am writing about. Too often, I noticed that people’s knee-jerk responses to the idea of a blog called Radical Unjobbing would simply reinforce their existing biases – whether for or against – about the word “radical.” The name came across to most people as challenging and confrontational in tone. This worked against my larger purpose of creating more opportunities for productive, respectful dialogue in which no one is trying to change anyone’s mind or convince them of anything – rather, we are simply telling each other our stories, and using these stories to critically examine the job culture in all its manifestations.
Biases are a simple fact of life; we all have them. However, I wanted to minimise the chances of having those pre-existing biases dissuade anyone from reading my blog – or from at least giving it a chance. So the blog now has a new title. It’s a title that better reflects my deeper intentions, and it’s one that I will not hesitate to discuss openly, even in casual conversations. Yay!
Thanks, readers, for your support!
Readers who are familiar with Claire Wolfe’s work will note that the phrase “job culture” is also used with similar intent in her fascinating 2005 book How to Kill the Job Culture Before it Kills You: Living a Life of Autonomy in a Wage-Slave Society. While I don’t agree with everything she writes, this is a courageous and thought-provoking book, and I am very grateful to her for writing it. (I also loved the way she autographed my copy with “To D.J. – May your life always belong to you. Claire Wolfe.”)
I am also grateful to Michael Fogler for writing another book I love, and one that happened to come into my life just when I needed it most – Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook. I bought the first edition of this book in 1996 just after its release, and I vividly recall how it affected me at the time. In 1994, I had read Your Money or Your Life – a personal finance book that would later become very influential – and while I found it impressive and inspiring in many ways, I also felt some nebulous misgivings about many aspects of the investment-oriented approach, as well as the entire concept of “financial independence”. (I would argue that there is no such thing as “financial independence” or “self-sufficiency.” Those are simply concepts, with no real substance. We are all interdependent. I will have more to say on this topic in later entries.)
After devouring Fogler’s visionary book voraciously, however, I shouted enthusiastically to no one in particular: “YES! Sane people live!” I don’t agree with everything Fogler writes, either, but I found his book very cogent, and it put into words something deeply radical – something I myself had been struggling to articulate for a long time. A couple of years later, in 1998, I founded Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery (a/k/a whywork dot org). Then, in 2010, I named this blog Radical Unjobbing, partly in honour of Fogler’s work.
These authors’ influence on my own work is most gratefully acknowledged.