“I do not dream of labour”

There has been a new trend on YouTube recently (and yes, I clearly spend too much time on YouTube). More and more YouTubers are posting videos titled along the lines of “I do not dream of labour” or “I do not have a dream job”, and it has certainly piqued my interest. I took a peek at a couple, and most seem to have a similar narrative. As a very very generalised summary, here’s how the videos usually go:

These YouTubers, mostly women, have taken a rather “traditional” path in their lives. They’ve done well in school, made it to a university, did well in university, and got a good job at a reputable firm. To many, it would seem like they have made it, they got a great start to their adult life and are living the dream. But after hustling at their 9-5 job for a while, they realised this dream life was not what they had thought it would be. To put it bluntly, they didn’t get much joy or meaning out of the work that they were doing, and they started to question the concept of labour. Why do we have to work? Do we live to work or work to live? Who is our work really benefitting?

Questions like these led them to one answer: Capitalism. The notion of a dream job or dream career, where one is encouraged to get a good job and then hustle and climb the ranks, is not one that has the individual’s interests at heart. Instead, it can be seen as one that is really good at producing hardworking and productive workers, and ultimately benefiting the company.

At this point, they start painting capitalism out to be the enemy, pointing out its flaws and explaining how it’s an oppressive or exploitative system. Some offer tips on how to, in a sense, resist capitalism. Others try to offer solutions, very Tim Ferriss-esque solutions, like starting an online business or be your own boss, which I personally don’t think is relevant to most.

I completely understand their sentiments on capitalism and they’re not wrong about its flaws. Believe me, I wrote a 3000-word essay last semester on reification in modern capitalist societies, covering topics like the commodification and reification of labour. So yes, I know that capitalism has its flaws and that labour under a capitalistic system can alienate one from their work.

But I guess this is where our views diverge because I’m kinda on the fence about capitalism. I think it’s undeniable that modern capitalism has brought about significant progress in fields of science, technology and healthcare, just to name a few. A lot of the privileges that we have today, were made possible by capitalism. Furthermore, as someone who puts their money in the stock market, an instrument of the capitalist system, I find it kinda ironic, and slightly hypocritical if I were to denounce capitalism.

Nevertheless, I find it fascinating that more and more people are growing dissatisfied with the system and are starting to see the cracks. I think these videos are great as they get people to think critically and question the system and the norms we’ve been raised to accept. While we may not have a better system in mind, as always, questioning is the first step in the right direction.