i want to challenge people who tell themselves they cant afford to work 'for free' on projects that they own.

i see people spending years doing unpaid work on their portfolio or resume, writing cover letters, pitching to publishers or investors, for the end result of working within the wage system.

i was radicalized by a microsoft recruiter telling us that they'd always pay us less than we were making the company, because thats the only reason they'd hire us: to pay us less than we're worth, to keep the difference.

it's obvious but it was shocking at the time, especially in the context. recruiters seemingly think they have infinite power over you (sometimes they do) (once in an interview i was reprimanded for asking what the project was; they told me if i was lucky enough to get the job they could tell me to make 'a zombie rape simulator' and id just have to (this is not how jobs work, you can quit)).

if you can do unpaid work with the goal of one day being exploited, you can do that work for yourself in a non-exploitative context too.

if the only person who can save you from a life of depressive sloth is someone who is willing and able to pay you a wage to exploit you, well, that's just more weight for the rest of us to carry.

this culture makes saviors out of job creators, builds a moral justification around the wage system, tears down as unethical (or at best very suspect) the kind of collaborative (often 'unpaid') work that could lead to a better future.

(i say this kind of work could lead to a better future because (1) it isnt constrained by the profit motive, (2) it can be capitalized on by the workers directly to make a fair profit, vs wage labor where wages will generally be lowered to keep workers dependent, (3) it isnt overseen and moderated by capitalists)


'hire _', 'pay _', 'give money to _', 'fund more _' - this only grants moral agency to money. if you dont have money you can only do wrong in these frameworks (or at best youre an amoral object).

i think this talk is appealing partially because the implied subject has money and comfort and can simply choose individually to make the world better by giving up a little of it, no problem! so its a fantasy. it's easy for us to slip into this fantasy because our media frequently has us self-inserting as these kinds of characters (the unworking sitcom character in fiction, the congressperson or philanthropist in liberal news, the businessperson in conservative news).

i think it's appealing sometimes also because it can be a way of removing responsibility from the vast majority of us in reality, who cannot do almost any of these things, aside from small donations. so it can be a way of demanding better from society without demanding anything of yourself or your peers. (maybe this is fine, but to me it feels pointless except as an emotional release.)

March 6, 2021