5 August 2012

Book: Carl Cederström & Peter Fleming, Dead Man Working

Dead Man Working by Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming is a new addition to the Zer0 Books series of long, "intellectual without being academic" essays on contemporary culture attempting to bring intellectual critique back to the public. Published in May 2012, this almost pocket-sized book offers an absorbing jeremiad on the economies of labour, time and selves within the all-consuming stricture of work-as-life.

Dead Man Working postulates that a neoliberal biopolitical management of the worker now occupies the corpse of captialism, which insists that not merely our bodies and time but the whole of our lives are organised and structured by the single operative mode of work. Cederström and Fleming's discursive examination cycles from call centre sweatshop to brothel special services and banker suicides (casually via Gilles Deleuze, The Smiths, Andy Warhol and many others) to expose a bleak world of inescapable labour and industry wherein not even death offers an effective exit strategy. 
"If work was once primarily regulated by bureaucracy through depersonalization then today we witness the emergence of a new regime of control which we call biocracy, in which life itself is an essential 'human resource' to be exploited ... Work is now presented as the Siamese twin to life, as the sphere in which life can most fully thrive." (14)
Those curious about Dead Man Working may also find Ivor Southwood's tract, Non-Stop Inertia (another Zer0 Books publication), which offers a complementary analysis of contemporary labour conditions and precarious life, worth a perusal.

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