The call came and I was told that my second period of furlough had ended. I would return to the workshop for three twelve and a half hour shifts per week, 7am to 7.30pm. The week my boss called, I’d been rereading Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil (1909-1943). Weil was a philosopher who worked in temporary teaching jobs, often being run out of town for her trade union-organising and activism. By the time of her death, Weil had built up a body of idiosyncratic, unorthodox, mystically-inclined theological writing, posthumously collected in Gravity and Grace. I read the final section, ‘The Mysticism of Work’, the day before my return to the workshop. After sitting in my room for three months, going back to such long days would be hard physically, which made it hard mentally; I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice. At least I’d be able to search for Weil’s mysticism of work.
by Eli Lambe
In Part One, I looked at how right-wing Youtubers use and abuse the idea of freedom of speech in constructing their worldview, and the connection between their celebration of abusive behaviour and feelings of humiliation. I used Adorno’s Cultural Criticism and Society to frame my observations. In this part, I will look at divisions within the workforce and how this creates vulnerabilities to right wing punditry – still using Adorno as a frame.
Adorno argues that labour is divided into “manual” and “intellectual” labour. However “manual” labour encompasses a lot more than working with your hands. It’s probably more accurate to use “menial” labour, which includes factory, construction, custodial and agricultural labour (what is usually covered by manual) as well as the huge number of exploitative customer service, food service and sales jobs. These distinctions are sometimes blurry, and stink of classist value judgements, but can still provide a useful way of addressing structural divisions and how those divisions impact on solidarity and belief.