Miya Tokumitsu challenges us to rethink what that ‘do-what-you-love’ jargon – the one unceasingly promoted by dreamers, and other so-called ‘the one percent’ like Steve Jobs and his counterparts either in Wall Street or any paramount, top-of-the-world position – actually means.
The main point is, in brief, and also a hint before you start reading her essay, she is not asking us, the 99 per cent, the so-dubbed ‘corporation-exploited world proletariat’, to rebel against those ‘DWYL’ elites (although she implicitly makes a slight correlation with that notion, but okay, no ideologies are perfect though).
Read her thought-provoking, left-leaning essay in Jacobin (an American magazine with similarly left-wing theme), and contemplate it deeper.
One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.
For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love (which is, in fact, most labor) is not only demeaned but erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from the spectrum of consciousness altogether.
Think of the great variety of work that allowed Jobs to spend even one day as CEO: his food harvested from fields, then transported across great distances. His company’s goods assembled, packaged, shipped. Apple advertisements scripted, cast, filmed. Lawsuits processed. Office wastebaskets emptied and ink cartridges filled. Job creation goes both ways. Yet with the vast majority of workers effectively invisible to elites busy in their lovable occupations, how can it be surprising that the heavy strains faced by today’s workers (abysmal wages, massive child care costs, et cetera) barely register as political issues even among the liberal faction of the ruling class?