25 February 2013

Yowza…. I’ve been through a bit of a rough patch what with settling into my new city and job, so lets say I was on sabbatical for the past few days.

“Ross Douthat’s column today is entitled “A World Without Work.” He ties the old utopian socialist dream of a workless society with the current trend away from stable full time employment. It is a smart piece. I stopped religiously reading the NYT columnists just about when Douthat was getting started, but he seems to be a welcome addition to the Op-Ed page. Rather than having a thing that he does every week like the other columnists, Douthat seems to be committed to engaging ideas.

Douthat is well groomed to be the next David Brooks. At first blush, his ideas seem pretty reasonable, but at second thought they often leave you scratching your head. I’m not going to hold Ross’ feet to the fire on this one, because he seems genuinely unsure of how he feels about the topic. I like that he is welcoming the working class into the post-work world, but he doesn’t seem to have thought it through all the way.

Douthat’s piece got me thinking about the Millenial generation and our view towards work. Many young creatives don’t aspire to a stable career, and are satisfied working as a barista while they play in a band or do ceramics. Our affluent society allows for this period of emerging adolescence. The verdict is still out on whether or not this is a good thing. It is unclear whether or not this period of growth will result in happier more rounded adults.

The pressing question seems to be how young people are relating to the realities of their economic system. Most would reject the industrial capitalism that has produced their circumstances. Not only would they reject capitalism, but also industrialism on its own. Normally this contradiction upsets me. Douthat’s piece has me wondering if it might not be that bad, though.

The working class is being hit the hardest by the post-work world. They have been raised to find their self worth through work, but are not able to find work. The psychological impact can be devastating. Might the millennial view towards work and industrialism be simply an effective coping mechanism for a post-industrial world?”

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