Job Loyalty

“Job loyalty” has been eroded in our day. Maybe this was inevitable when “workers” came to be defined more and more as “job-holders.” Surely, work in the world, as distinct from labor, used to imply mastery and uniqueness, as well as the capacity to “make” something, and not just “replicate” it. Moreover, that which is made has the quality of durability, which is a capacity to be used over time. Things made for use are different from those made for “consumption,” however splendid. Things made for use weave their way into our lives in a prolonged way, and are brought up into the meaning of our lives, even across generations.

So, it is not remarkable that a position is not likely to engender loyalty when held by a worker who does not sign his work, have a chance to construct a meaningful assembly of parts into a whole, who does not expect the object of his or her activity to last over time, and cannot gain enjoyment from the work either of hands or mind. In what way do his efforts engage him? In what way does a comradeship among workers form around the manufacture of products so made, as distinct from the mere comradeship of idling, or simply waiting for the next train. How does a fascination take hold over the nature and evolution of a “good” or service, if there is no possible connection between the item and a rational scheme of long term good?

I ask these questions but fear that they must be anachronistic. The creation of the “goods” of our world, which are sought after by all but a few is obviously, normally, a measured, highly sub-divided, highly mechanized “process” of manufacture. This process is engineered to bring about a plentiful supply for the mass of those who can afford them. Does the uniformity and internal and external consistency between products cause us to lose out in the end?

If we mass produce indistinguishable things so as to supply our neighbors and their neighbors (many times down the line) is this not a greater good than to seek to look after the quality of the sensuous and spiritual activity of working? Don’t our wages create the merit in each of our individual “job” lives, inasmuch as wages becomes a kind of compensation for the laboriousness and toil we have gained in our current dispensation as job holder? Can’t we just serve the “process?”

Does the emergence of a technically seamless “process” aimed at creating the good actually vouchsafe our connection to the good? Ultimately can such a combination of functions rightly bear the name of human action? If not, what process has a hold on us? If job loyalty is defunct then what does this say about what free people do from nine to five?

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