Bullshit Jobs, Fuck Work, & The Legacy of David Graeber with James Livingston & Corey McCall

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Is is possible to imagine a world without work?

Or, at least, a world in which work is not romanticized, is not treated as defining element of social and individual achievement?

James Livingston predicts that we need to prepare for a postwork world.

And David Graeber has challenged us to imagine alternatives to organization by bureaucracy, credit, and corporations.

This episode features Livingston talking to Matt Seybold and Corey McCall about Graeber’s posthumous book, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, as well as the Great Resignation, the Great Recession, the Great Risk Shift, and much more.

James Livingston is Professor of History at Rutgers University and founding editor of PoliticsSlashLetters.org. He started out as an economic historian writing about banking reform in the Progressive Era. His first book, which is still in print thanks to the financial crises created by supply-side economics since 1983, is Origins of the Federal Reserve System: Money, Class, and Corporate Capitalism, 1890-1913 (Cornell UP, 1986). He is also author of Pragmatism and the Political Economy of Cultural Revolution, 1850-1940 (UNC Press, 1994), Pragmatism, Feminism, and Democracy: Rethinking the Politics of American History (Routledge, 2001), The World Turned Inside Out: American Thought and Culture at the End of the 20th Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), and Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul (Basic Books, 2011), as well as numerous shorter works for mainstream periodicals, academic journals, and blogs. Most relevant to this episode are No More Work: Why Full Employment Is A Bad Idea (UNC Press, 2016) and “Fuck Work” (Aeon, 2016), as well as other supplementary PostWork and AntiWork writing (see bibliography below).

Corey McCall was, until recently, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Elmira College, where he taught for fifteen years. He currently serves as a staff paralegal at Legal Assistance of Western New York and an instructor for the Cornell Prison Education Program. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at Penn State’s Humanities Institute.His research ranges across Africana, American, and European philosophical traditions. He is co-editor (with Philip McReynolds) of Decolonizing American Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2021), (with Nathan Ross) Benjamin, Adorno, and the Experience of Literature (Routledge, 2018), and (with Tom Nurmi) Melville Among The Philosophers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). [Twitter: @CoreyMcCall]

Episode Bibliography:

U.S. Personal Savings Rate History, Last Updated 2.25.2022

Elizabeth Anderson, “Liberty, Equity, & Private Government” (The Tanner Lectures, 2015)

Louis Brandeis, Other People’s Money & How Bankers Use It (1914)

Willem Buiter, Central Banks As Fiscal Players: The Drivers of Fiscal & Monetary Policy Space (Cambridge UP, 2020)

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W.E.B. DuBois, Black Reconstruction in America: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860–1880 (1935)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (New England Magazine, January 1892)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper?” (The Forerunner, October 1913)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women & Economics (Maynard & Co., 1898)

David Graeber, Debt: The First 5,000 Years (Melville House, 2011)

David Graeber, “On The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs: A Work Rant” (STRIKE! Magazine, August 2013)

David Graeber & David Wengrow, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity (Allen Lane, 2021)

Jacob Hacker, The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity & the Decline of The American Dream (Oxford UP, 2006)

William James, “The Moral Equivalent of War” (Stanford University, 1906)

Ann Kellett, “The Texas A&M Professor Who Predicted ‘The Great Resignation'” (Texas A&M Today, 2.11.2022)

Mervyn King, The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, & The Future of The Global Economy (Norton, 2016)

John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of The Peace (1919)

John Maynard Keynes, “Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren” (Nation & Athenaeum, 10.11-18.1930)

Anna Kornbluh, “Academe’s Coronavirus Shock Doctrine” (Chronicle of Higher Education, 3.12.2020)

Leigh Claire La Berge, “Decommodified Labor: Conceptualizing Work After The Wage” (Journal of Cultural Studies Association, Spring 2018)

James Livingston, “Fuck Work” (Aeon, 11.25.2016)

James Livingston, “Fuck Work” (boundary2 online, 3.27.2017)

James Livingson (Ed.), Fuck Work Roundtable (Politics/Letters, August 2018)

James Livingston, No More Work: Why Full Employment Is A Bad Idea (UNC Press, 2016)

James Livingston, “What Now, After Work?” [Part I, Part II, Part III] (Politics/Letters/Persons, 3.9-18.2022)

James Livingston, “Why Work?” (The Baffler, June 2017)

Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. III: The Process of Capitalist Production as A Whole (1894)

Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor” from Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844

Karl Marx, Grundrisse [Foundations of a Critique of Political Economy] (1939)

Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work (Putnam, 1995)

Matt Seybold, “The End of Economics” (Los Angeles Review of Books, 7.3.2017)

Matt Seybold, “The Funny Man vs. The Butcher: Anti-Imperialist Trolling & The International Reception of King Leopold’s Soliloquy (CMTS, 10.3.2020)

Matt Seybold, “Mark Twain Portfolio: Existential Hedging & The United Fruit Company” (CMTS, 5.31.2019)

Robert Skidelsky & Edward Skidelsky, How Much Is Enough?: Money & The Good Life (Penguin, 2012)

Adam Smith, Inquiry Into The Nature & Causes of The Wealth of Nations (1776)

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Mark Twain, “King Leopold’s Soliloquy” (1905)

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E. O. Wilson & Bert Hölldobler, The Ants (Harvard UP, 1990)

William Julius Wilson, When Work Disappears: The World of The New Urban Poor (Knopf, 1996)