Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Now THIS is an anti-capitalist message I can get behind

Amelia Gentleman, "Hello indolence, goodbye job?", The Guardian, July 28, 2004.

Those who dedicate their professional lives to idleness should do so with discretion if they hope to keep their jobs.

This is one useful message in Hello Laziness - The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible at the Workplace, an anarchic anti-business bible published in France.

It is advice the author, Corinne Maier, a senior economist at Electricité de France, failed to follow. She faces a disciplinary hearing next month, accused of attempting to "rot the system from within".

The book, Bonjour Paresse (a nod to Françoise Sagan's 50s novel, Bonjour Tristesse or Hello Sadness), pledges to explain why it is in your interest to do the least work possible and will tell you how to damage the system from within "without appearing to do so".

An antidote to the recent rash of US-import, career-enhancing self-help books by business management gurus, it rails against corporate culture and preaches a philosophy of active disengagement.

It is an elegantly written call to arms to the "neo-slaves" of middle management and the "damned of the service industry", condemned to dress up as clowns all week and waste their lives in pointless meetings.

Maier cites the recent wave of financial scandals in French business, and argues that since careers are at risk and pensions under threat, employees should shake off their shackles of loyalty and start "footling around" during office hours.
I particularly enjoy how the opening sentence demonstrates Ms. Gentleman's grasp of the obvious. But hasn't this particular ground been trod before, and better, by the peerless Office Space?