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The Mad World of Work

Catalyst Media | 03.12.2008 20:57 | Other Press | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Liverpool

The latest issue of Nerve magazine is now out, and available free from the Catalyst office (85-89 Duke Street), News From Nowhere on Bold Street, and various other outlets around Merseyside. It is also online, at This time the focus is on definitions and experiences of work.

"In short, it has become an article of the creed of modern morality that all labour is good in itself - a convenient belief to those who live on the labour of others. But as to those on whom they live, I recommend them not to take it on trust, but to look into the matter a little deeper."
William Morris, Useful Work Versus Useless Toil (1884)

Work eh? Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Every product or service we use is created by work, by people deliberately changing one thing into another, transforming the world around them. But that isn’t the definition of work we normally hear about. Usually an activity isn’t called work unless someone else stands to make money off it, which means that looking after your children isn’t normally called work, but looking after another person’s children normally is, and government policy is currently aimed at getting single parents ‘into work’, as if they don’t have enough! It also means that if you create a piece of art for the enjoyment of yourself and others then that isn’t work, but when stockbrokers place bets on the success or failure of businesses it definitely is!

Now, as a recession unfolds, politicians are telling us there’s ‘not enough work’, and people around the world are being sacked in their hundreds of thousands, even though things clearly need more transforming than ever. We’re also seeing taxpayers’ money being given to those at the top of the pile, in the name of keeping the economy afloat. Something doesn’t add up.

Clearly, we need to examine what work means in 2008, and that’s what Nerve 13 does.

Nerve 14 will look at issues around the environment and food. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute something, or have any ideas. Contact us by emailing, or phone (0151) 709 9948 during office hours.

We’ve worked hard on this edition of Nerve, so we hope you enjoy it.

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