[Marxism] it’s a living - bookforum.com / current issue

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 2 07:10:05 MDT 2014

It's a Living
A surprisingly sprightly history of the glum designs behind the world of 
modern work
Jerry Stahl

The genius of Cubed is that Saval recognizes the mood of barely 
controlled panic that suffuses most American offices, and tracks it 
through every element of the overmanaged, time-sucking, and 
keystroke-counting world of work. And what’s interesting, once the 
reader becomes used to Saval’s treatment of office life as a lens 
through which to view American Civilization (if you’ll pardon the 
expression), is how the mythology of Horatio Alger–esque merit-based 
advancement continues, in open defiance of a managerial ethos devoted to 
controlling, designing, and depersonalizing the work experience to 
within an inch of its life. Of course, in Alger’s day, folks actually 
believed an office boy with pluck could make something of himself, and 
maybe end up with his own going concern. Today, by contrast, there is 
barely a pretense of belief in upward mobility—regardless of how often 
politicians and business leaders continue to march out the idea—so the 
old meritocratic myth now functions a bit like the experience that 
recent amputees report of seeming to possess a phantom limb.

full: http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/021_01/12990

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