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Dream Jobs For All
How Capitalism ruins work.
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Jumbo shrimp. Virtual reality. Dream job. All of these are oxymorons. At least, in a Capitalist society.
When Americans talk about “dream jobs,” seldom are they expressing that their highest aspiration in life is to work for someone else for forty hours a week. As Capitalism forces us to sell our labor in exchange for a wage that will be used to secure the necessities of our survival, our jobs require us to forfeit significant amounts of our time, liberty, health, and happiness merely for the privilege of existing. When people speak of “dream jobs,” what they’re really expressing is a desire to find a job that minimizes how much of their humanity they must sacrifice. In such scenarios, the boss is kind, the wage is high, and the work is fulfilling, if not sometimes enjoyable. With a manager understanding of your humanity and a wage and hours that enable you to pursue what you truly want in life, whether that’s watching Netflix or traveling the world, so-called dream jobs provide the best-case scenario for workers in a Capitalist society.
But, if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to secure one of these dream jobs, you know that good times are not guaranteed. When push comes to shove, profit is king, and the parts of your employment you found pleasant will be discarded and replaced by the inevitable consequences of Capitalism, the need for bosses to get as much labor from their workers as possible. With longer hours, poorer conditions, and an increasingly toxic work environment, the dream job becomes a nightmare.
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But it does not have to be this way. Dream jobs do exist. Just not under Capitalism.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably enjoyed your work. Perhaps there was an interesting project you contributed to or a group of coworkers you became friends with. I know I have. I’ve found immense pride in the products of my labor, whether it’s the essay you’re currently reading, the multiple tech products I launched, or even the chicken coop I built back when I was a farmhand. In each of these jobs lay some degree of camaraderie and purpose, waiting for me to discover. And yet, each and every time the joy created by my work was washed away by the nature of the Capitalist environment in which it took place. In the tech sector, a new boss came in and fired my friend just so she could hire her own. What happiness I gained doing manual labor was eroded by long, arduous hours under the summer sun. On each occasion, what I’ve loved about my work has been overshadowed by the flaws of Capitalism, namely the tyrannical, nepotistic nature of the workplace and the need to maximize profit by squeezing workers for every cent. I’m willing to wager that you’ve had similar experiences.
If you’ve spent any time in Leftist circles, particularly those that exist online, you’ve probably noticed a good degree of rhetoric deriding work. (There’s a whole anti-work subreddit, after all.) Complaints and jokes about terrible bosses, the exploitative nature of workplaces, and the mistreatment of workers make up a good portion of Leftist internet humor, which I myself am guilty of engaging in.
And while such content provides ample laughs and retweets, this is not the true nature of Socialism. Socialists don’t want you to hate your work. We want you to love it. Our goal is for every human to have a dream job. Not in the Capitalist sense, where you find employment that allows you to exist as a human, but in the purest sense — a job where you can commit yourself to labor, be proud of what you built, have a say in determining the conditions of your workplace, and reap the full value created by the strength of your hands and the sweat of your brow.
It is possible for every American to have a dream job. But not under Capitalism.
In our Capitalist society, what could be meaningful labor is corrupted. Perhaps you enjoy building and would thrive as part of the team constructing a new apartment complex in your neighborhood. You’d get to work with your hands, be outdoors, and, when the work is done, gaze upon your twenty-story contribution to society. Yet, under a Capitalist mode of production, what you enjoy about construction is drowned under the for-profit motive. In our society, the owner of your company pockets half the dollars your work creates and the foreman commands you to work 10-hour days without water breaks, as the development industry lobbied to eliminate them.
Or, perhaps you hate being outside, and you want to work behind a desk, crafting new algorithms that help distribute necessary goods throughout the country. You enjoy the problem-solving nature of coding, and you feel fulfilled to see your work help people get the goods they need. But as we exist under Capitalism, the only place currently offering this kind of work is Amazon. So, you go to work for Jeff Bezos, who steals the value your labor creates to fund his spacefaring midlife crisis.
By stripping away the for-profit motivations that dominate our economy, we can emancipate ourselves from the forces that corrupt the wonders of human labor into the soulless, crushing pursuit of profit. By putting workers in control of their workplaces and determining production based not on what yields a high ROI but on what produces the best outcomes for the most people, we can create a society in which dream jobs are plentiful.
Dream jobs for all is possible. Just not under Capitalism.
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