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Labour, alienated

A story in today's Guardian reports that India's IT workers are suffering from 'lifestyle' diseases. The risks of sitting on your arse all day in front of a computer or on the old dog and bone are many, and not just physical. That much thrown around term 'stress' covers a legion of psychological problems associated with such jobs. It all comes under the term 'Alienated Labour'. What does this have to do with writing? Wait. I'll tell you. Literature has covered the alienating effects of corporate life for yonks. Well, since around about the fifties at least. Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was the leader of the pack in the States, followed by an altogether darker, yet more realistic Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. It is also a strong motif in Arthur Miller's fantastic novel, Focus, which you would expect. And yet the previous generation's parents would have killed for what they thought of as a 'cushy' desk job in which they could wear a respectable skirt and shirt instead of trundling off down t'pit/factory. Yet the risks can be far more. This is where many people think that we're all middle class now and that Marxism is no longer relevant, yet, in my mind, it is more relevant to these days than ever before. Office life and the illusions of corporate hierarchy you have to buy into and not question in order to be in the line of succession can be hazardous.

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