The Double Shift: Spinoza and Marx on the Politics of Work

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    Jason Read

    Publisher: Verso

    Year: 2024

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 225 pages

    ISBN: 9781839767623

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"Why do people fight for their exploitation as if it was liberation?" How Marx and Spinoza can explain our perverse attachment to the indignities of work

In a world of declining wages, working conditions, and instability, the response for many has been to work harder, increasing hours and finding various ways to hustle in a gig economy. What drives our attachment to work? To paraphrase a question from Spinoza, "Why do people fight for their exploitation as if it was liberation?"

The Double Shift turns towards the intersection of Marx and Spinoza in order to examine the nature of our affective, ideological, and strategic attachment to work. Through an examination of contemporary capitalism and popular culture it argues that the current moment can be defined as one of "negative solidarity."

The hardship and difficulty of work is seen not as the basis for alienation and calls for its transformation but rather an identification with the difficulties and hardships of work. This distortion of the work ethic leads to a celebration of capitalists as job creators and suspicion towards anyone who is not seen as a "real worker."

The book is grounded in philosophy, specifically Marx and Spinoza, and is in dialogue with Plato, Smith, Hegel, and Arendt, but, at the same time, in examining contemporary ideologies and ideas about work it discusses motivational meetings at Apple Stores, the culture of Silicon Valley, and films and television from
Office Space to Better Call Saul

The Double Shift argues for a transformation of our collective imagination and attachment to work.

What People Are Saying
"With The Double Shift, Jason Read cuts trenchantly into the knot of entangled alienations that attach us to outdated perceptions of economics, ethics and politics. This impressive synthesis of the reinvention of a Spinozan Marx by current French and Italian theorists joyfully enrolls recent films and TV series into a critical analysis of the "negative solidarity" which fuels the rise of right-wing politics. As late-capitalist societies are eaten away, from the inside, by widely shared but deeply misleading perceptions of work and waged labor, this is indeed a most urgent Read!"
—Yves Citton; author of Mediarchy and The Ecology of Attention

"Drawing on Marx, Spinoza, and popular film, Jason Read builds an illuminating analysis that not only astutely captures, but also helps to make sense of, our double experience of wage work as a locus of freedom and compulsion, hope and fear, self-actualization and self-impoverishment, love and hate. This book is a must read for students of contemporary capitalism."
—Kathi Weeks, Duke University

"Jason Read's wonderful book constructs an engaging dialogue between Marx and Spinoza that shines a new light on pressing contemporary issues of politics and work."
—Michael Hardt, Duke University, author of The Subversive Seventies
About the Author
Jason Read is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He is the author of The Production of Subjectivity: Marx and Philosophy, The Micro-Politics of Capital: Marx and the Prehistory of the Present and The Politics of Transindividuality.

Tags: Baruch Spinoza ....... Jason Read ....... Karl Marx ....... labor ....... Philosophy ....... Verso .......