So I’ve been reading Dave Graeber, and Harry Frankfurt. I considered writing reviews on my Goodreads account, but then thought better of it.
Because cowardice, you see. Everything I have to say on this subject I would say in the context of work. Which means that I am too shit-scared to say it what I feel needs to be said about bullshit without saying things that can be be traced, directly and easily, or indirectly and with marginally more difficulty, to my actual identity.
And so I say it here.
I have always been aware that above a certain level — mine, or if I’m being honest, perhaps even one level down — one has to be constrained in one’s speech when one works in a bureaucracy. We serve, ultimately, political masters, and they can constrain what it is said in the service of their exercise of power. Sometimes this constraint is ugly, and sometimes it is even wrong, but it makes a certain kind of sense: policy is set, and the speech of those designated to implement policy is expected to be consistent with the direction that has been set.
But lately our political masters have seen fit to put business people in charge. And I am lately cognizant of the utter vacuity of business speech. I listen to these people say things and I can think only “words. Those are just words.” It is almost as if — no, that’s not right, it is as if — succeeding in business requires facility with spouting utter nonsense. I read sentences in e-mails that have no discernible content — and worse, no follow up.