Reddit, r/antiwork, the FOX Interview, What Was Said (and What Might Have Been Said)

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Alert reader JB suggested that NC look into “antiwork crowd from Reddit.” So I thought I would, albeit superficially because I’m not all that familiar with the platform (though I have a weakness for “Am I the [glass bowl]?”, which is rather like a collective Ann Landers column for people who are too young to remember Ann Landers). In fact, my only experience with Reddit came in 2008, where I got some good hits from it posting my own material, until Obots ganged up and started downvoting me. And to be fair, I was trying to use the platform, not contribute to it.

Reddit has come a long way since 2008. Paraphrasing the potted history at Wikipedia, Reddit is the seventh most popular site in the United States. Founded in 2005 by Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, and kickstated, Reddit was kickstarted, as we say, by Y Combinator (and coded in Common List (!!)), then sold to Condé Nast in 2006. Here is how the site works:

Registered members submit content to the site such as links, text posts, images, and videos, which are then voted up or down by other members. Posts are organized by subject into user-created boards called “communities” or “subreddits”, which cover topics such as news, politics, religion, science, movies, video games, music, books, sports, fitness, cooking, pets, and image-sharing. Submissions with more upvotes appear towards the top of their subreddit and, if they receive enough upvotes, ultimately on the site’s front page.


Although there are strict rules prohibiting harassment, it still occurs, and Reddit administrators moderate the communities and close or restrict them on occasion. Moderation is also conducted by community-specific moderators, who are not considered Reddit employees.

As you, dear readers, and we backstage players know, moderating “communities” is hard and doesn’t scale well; the Wikipedia entry has a whole section of controversies, most of which will have involved moderation in one way or another. The “r/antiwork” media dogpile is one such, and to it we now turn. (I should caveat that I am not a “Redditor” and have no plans to be, so I am sure that community customs and mores that Reddit users regard as essential will be opaque to me; readers will naturally feel free to correct me in comments.)

In short form: r/antiwork, a Reddit community — motto: “Unemployment for all, not just the rich!” — increased its membership greatly in the first two years of the pandemic, as well it might have. Last week, an r/antiwork moderator, “u/abolishwork” (one “Doreen Ford,”[1] hereafter “Ford”) went on FOX (!!) and gave an interview that gave rise to a feeding frenzy. There was a good deal of agita among the other moderators and admins, the community was closed for a couple of days, and split into two factions, but now has reopened. Just another day in social media? First, I’ll try to give the flavor of the community with some posts I’ll immediately admit are not signficant, statisitically; then, I’ll briefly review the media controversy; and finally, I will look at what abolishwork (Ford) really said, not just on FOX, but in two other interviews. I’ll conclude with some thoughts on platforms.

r/antiwork Posts

These are from the top ten or so posts on the subreddit; that is, they were upvoted by the community. (Posts are ordered by votes, and not chronologically, latest first, as in blogs.)

(There is also a genre of post where an especially horrid workplace is described; posts like this are ubiquitous, so I didn’t dig deep to find an especially egregious one.) I think it speaks well of the subreddit that these are the upvoted posts (though see the Conclusion for some comments on contradictions within the subreddit.) I think the evident non-old-codgerdom of the posts is also heartening.

Media Frenzy

Since we have the Daily Mail, there’s no reason to do a serious aggregation. From “‘Laziness is a virtue in a society where people want you to be productive 24/7′: Fumbling advocate for the ‘Anti-work’ movement – which has 1.7million Reddit followers – goes viral for all the wrong reasons after car-crash interview“:

Doreen Ford, 30, a dog walker from Boston who serves as a moderator for the r/Anti-Work subreddit, went on Fox and fumbled to explain the group’s ideology to host Jesse Watters.

Worth noting at this point that Watters just got a promotion from “Watters World” (8:00PM) to “Prime Time” (7:00PM), and ginning up controversy would have been even more useful to him than it normally is. The Mail actually does some reporting, aggregating Redditor reactions:

A user with the handle SamSepiol also lamented the interview and its impact, writing, ‘That interview was so awful and fulfilled so many stereotypes that it’s hard not to wonder if it was deliberate sabotage.’

Another reddit user with the handle Puffy_Ghost also criticized Ford’s performance.

‘They fell right into the trap Fox News wanted them to. The only acceptable things go do there would be to decline the interview, or hire a media professional to represent you,’ they wrote.

‘If you agree to an interview representing nearly 2 million people you better look and act like you know what you’re doing.’

(Interesting how media savvy these Redditors are.) The rest of the coverage is, frankly, conservatives performing their own highly ritualized version of aghastitude: “OMG, a dog walker. Who wants to teach philosophy. OMG. OMG.” (Anybody who’s read E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class knows that the self-taught worker who teaches others is a real historical figure, and a laudable one.)

Ford’s Interviews

We have transcripts of three interviews with Ford. First FOX, then in Medium, and lastly on WBUR. I will look at each in turn.

Here is the FOX interview. It’s only three minutes long, so that’s not too agonizing. I will quote parts of the autogenerated YouTube transcript (cleaned up and punctuated):

WATTERS:… over 1.6 million subscribers.

Those are good numbers. I would suspect that Watters doesn’t regard Ford merely as an interviewee to be ambushed, but as a rival. This is probably the worst of the ambush:

WATTERS: Is there something you want to do besides being a dog walker? Do you aspire to do anything more than dog walking or is that kind of your your pinnacle?

FORD: Uh, I love working with dogs. If I had to do this rest of my life, you know, I wouldn’t be super complaining you know. Dogs are wonderful animals, uh, but I mean I would love to teach, I would love to, um, uou know, work with people and stuff like that.

WATTERS: What would you teach, Doreen?

FORD: Uh, philosophy, mostly. Philosophy, critical thinking, reason[ing], stuff like that.

WATTERS: Well, I would love to take your class, Doreen. I would just be taking notes the whole time, and you know what? A professor has a very similar schedule [t] something that you’re imagining, so I think that actually might might work perfectly for you. Listen, I think this might not be the greatest idea, but who am I to judge. To each their own. They say it’s a free country. Sure, not everything’s free, but it is a free country. Thank you so much, we gotta run. We gotta pay the bills.

Watters in the pull-the-wings off flies mode our meidia does so well. True, Ford was the opposite of crisp, and the Room Rater account on Twitter would have ranked her low, but as Vice says:

The interview was a typical Fox News ambush. Ford made reasonable and clear arguments for what many members of r/antiwork want, but Watters invited her on only to ridicule the notion that anyone would be “against working,” not to have a substantive interview. She had wandered into a den of wolves and didn’t realize anything bad was happening even as she was being eaten alive. To Watters, Ford was everything conservatives have been warning about the Woke Leftists Who Are Destroying America and want free things from the government.

Here is a second interview with Ford by Lewis Parker, on Medium. He begins:

What’s written below is completely unedited, beyond some grammatical touch-ups. Unfortunately for r/AntiWork, the Doreen Ford that represented them on Fox News is a far cry from the Doreen Ford exhibited below. The intent behind both interviews is clearly very different, as the former was orchestrated to embarrass whereas the latter was designed to inform, but I hope it goes some way towards potentially clarifying the sort of ideals that Anti-Work (and possibly even Doreen) stand for.

And from Ford:

How do you personally think the pandemic has affected anti-work? What about it do you think has made people sympathetic to your cause?

[FORD:] It has made folks wake up to how the meetings are unnecessary, how expendable we all are under capitalism, and how easy it is to automate and make so many sectors remote instead of awful commutes. Its impact on the economy shows just how fragile this system is and how it depends on us much more than the capitalists who get so much of its benefit.

What would you say is the overall goal of the Anti-Work subreddit? What kind future do you hope to work towards?

[FORD:] The goal of the subreddit is to abolish work. Not to just reform capitalism or to alleviate some of its worst effects, but to actively undermine and discredit it as a viable economic system and replace it with something better. What that looks like depends on who you ask, whether they be a communist or a social democrat or an anarchist. I am an anarchist myself so that’s the kind of future I’m working toward.

How does anarchism tie into the Anti-Work movement?

[FORD:] So, I’m something of a individualist or mutualist anarchist. My ideal society would be one that’s built up of solidarity, equality of authority and the ability to easily direct action to positively change society. I want an economy where people are easily able to either work for themselves or work in cooperatives, but not in the same way that they work today. Not in the sense that they need to, or otherwise they will starve or be homeless. People will be able to pick multiple lines of work and switch fairly seamlessly without it defining their identity or self-worth.

Do you think your ideal society is something that the majority of moderators/founders of Anti-Work share, or do you find that while you hold a common goal you often disagree on the endgame you’re working towards?

[FORD:] Yeah, there’s a lot of disagreement about the end game for the community. I’m also weird in that I’m not completely against markets or money or even property at a certain level. So I’m definitely an odd duck when it comes to anti-work and ideology. In other words. I’m basically telling you to not take me as a representative sample of what your average anti-worker believes.

Which does leave open the question of why Ford went on Fox to begin with.

And a group interview from WBUR, from which I pull some Ford quotes. (“Doreen” is Ford):

Doreen: Back when I first started working actually is when I got into into antiwork and when I read Bob Black’s Abolition of Work, which is a very influential essay on the movement.

Doreen: You know, I’m not even anti-jobs. You know, I’m fine with people having professions and things that they want to do. You know, I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. I just think it’s it’s a bad thing under capitalism in the state and the way that it’s done, they’re like, I would still take care of dogs if capitalism didn’t exist.

Doreen: I mean, look, I work with literal angels put on this planet. You know, I’m talking about dogs, of course, and there are still mornings where I’m like, Nah, I’d rather not get up and go to work.

Doreen: And that’s why we’re so hard line about it. People are like, “Oh, but the state is violence and capitalism is violence, and so many people are dying and like, How can you not want to at least have us defend ourselves,” is how they put it. And it’s like, yeah, I don’t necessarily disagree with all that ideologically. But like terms of service wise, it’s not going to go well for us. I’d rather have the platform than not. And also, I prefer nonviolent solutions over violent solutions, just about any day.

Doreen: Between 60 and 70 K new people per week, still top 10 comments in days and posts for three months now. Comments per day are at all time highs and we’re in the top five for most of December.

Staggering numbers. (And a lot of work for a moderator, too. Moderation is work!)

Doreen: We are a radical, anti-thought tearing leftist movement. We’re not nonpolitical. We very much have concrete demands about capitalism and subverting it. We’re not all anarchists and communists, necessarily. You know, there are Social Democrats and people from more liberal backgrounds and stuff like that. We’re pretty big tent. But I think generally, you know, we’re very anti-authoritarian at our core and really want to undermine capitalism as much as possible.

I’m not here to expound Ford’s ideology. However, Ford is clearly a thoughtful person, and for whatever reason, the Fox interview caused them to melt down, in an enormous self-own for Ford personally, and more importantly the community. People had every right to be ticked off. But there but for the grace of god go I. The same would have happened to me, I am sure.


A few thoughts on the internal contradictions in r/antiwork, how FOX sharpened them, and how the controversy resolved them.

In the end, few or not enough Redditors came to Ford’s defense, and they were removed as a moderator. Partly, that’s because Ford chose to represent r/antiwork without being selected or elected in any way. More fundamently, the subreddit’s base and leadership were in contradiction with each other, as user No-Garlic-1739 pointed out:

In part, this is a not-unexpected (I won’t say “natural”) phenomenon on Reddit, and a result of scaling; those impressive numbers I keep commenting upon. From Forbes:

On Reddit, subreddits often shift in tone as they increase in popularity, as regular users become drowned out by a rapid influx of visitors, and clout-chasers post oversimplified or inflammatory content; inevitably, radical and niche spaces become oversaturated, and therefore, subdued. The antiwork subreddit has changed since its inception, building a userbase that is not opposed to the idea of work, but opposed to worker exploitation.

But the result was a split with which, well, students of Bolshevism will be very familiar. The reformists split from the revolutionaries. From Business Insider:

A new subreddit r/WorkReform has gathered more than 300,000 members a day after it was formed…. However, many longstanding members [had] expressed frustration about how the movement is often misrepresented as being anti-work and promoting laziness, rather than as a platform to discuss and change exploitative labor practices.

Hence, as so often happens, the reformers were happy to join a dogpile precipitated by reactionaries. So it goes!

It will be interesting to see how the now-parallel work Subreddits fare, and how they compete with each other. Will the reformers make a real world impact? Bordieu introduces the interesting idea of “social technology,” which, being action, is quite different from messaging:

What is at issue is what we might call a social technology. or a technique of action in the social world… [T]here are inventions in the social world, as elsewhere. Max Webt makes a point of the fact that the popular jury, with which we are so familiar that we don’t even think about it, was a great invention in the history of law. It completely changed the structure of the judicial field.

Here are some of the social tecnhologies r/antiwork originated:

Most of the viral posts on the subreddit over the last few months have been from workers who have told their bosses to fuck off, people calling for solidarity during unionization efforts and strikes, people who have automated their jobs and used the free time to pursue their hobbies, or posts about worker exploitation.

A few times the members of the subreddit also organized labor actions that had consequences off Reddit. Members organized a boycott on Black Friday and the spamming of Kellogg’s job portal with fake applications for “scab” positions to replace striking workers during a work stoppage at its cereal plants last year. Users also spammed receipt printers around the world with “anti-work” manifestos.

I loved the japery of the receipt printers. Still, when one thinks of the truckers currently blocking roads in Ottawa, or of the Capitol seizure, it’s hard to conclude anything other than that the right is making more effective use of “social technology” than the “left” (if I may file anarchists with the left). Interesting times.


[1] There are also some personal assaults on Ford’s character, but I don’t have the time or energy to sort them. Suffice to say that discussing real life relationships on Facebook — if these indeed happened; digital evidence is not evidence — shows a charming naivete. I’d also say that anybody who’s moderated as long as Ford has isn’t weak, stupid, or ineffective. Moderators like that get rapidly weeded out.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Dave in Austin

    Re yesterday’s Yves heading on Covid “Continuing to Develop Not Necessarily to the Officialdom’s Advantage”:

    Spoken like a true Empress. May we be as lucky as they were.

  2. Mark Gisleson

    I’ve been on Reddit rarely, never joined but I’ve seen a lot of those graphics in my Twitter timeline which leans fairly hard left.

  3. Adam

    There are several critical features of this story that are below the surface if you aren’t already familiar with them. All of them are somewhat headache-inducing, so I will just limit this to reddit moderating. Reddit moderating is generally horrible because the people who would want to moderate large reddit boards are people who are always attached to their computer to start with, and these moderators often end up as “powermods” who are controlling many subreddits. The top moderator of a subreddit basically also has complete control and the top moderator is just the person who starts the subreddit (at least initially). I say control/controlling because the interest that these mods want to enforce may be very different that the typical users of the subreddit and the users of the subreddit have no recourse against bad moderation. While I don’t read anti-work or reform-work, I’m under the impression that this is a problem on both subreddits based on reports on a third subreddit that I do read. I believe the reason anti-work closed for several days was due to user backlash against that interview; this is also what lead to reform-work being created, except that was quickly taken over by powermods. It sounds like there has been an increased enforcement of id-pol approved messaging only in both subreddits as well as users being banned for posting in non-approved subreddits (yes, certain mods will ban users just for posting in subreddits which they do not like), which is where there is a major break between users and moderators. I imagine that the motivations behind moderating at NC and being a powermod at Reddit have very little overlap.

    Also to note, it sounds like Fox reached out to a variety of mods or prominent members of anti-work and likely opted for the interviewee that would do the most damage to anti-work.

    1. Garushulion

      As someone who has been following workreform, I can report that after the powermod coup, the prevailing message became “either you’re on board with us 100% or you need to get the hell out, you can’t be a conservative and support work reform”. Now, I’m not a conservative, but starting your “broad-based” movement with a my way or the highway attitude is clearly a nonstarter.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “either you’re on board with us 100% or you need to get the hell out, you can’t be a conservative and support work reform”

        I doubt very much that’s true. Conservatives aren’t dumb, and if that’s what it takes to win power, that’s why they’ll figure out how to do. If Trump (and Bannon) were more disciplined, that’s what he would have done. At some point, some party or party faction is going to “run to daylight” in that direction because that’s where the numbers are, and there’s no reason at all to think it will be the liberal Democrats.

        1. Jack

          That’s a very good point Lambert. Sooner or later someone charismatic who is not captured by the Washington elites is going to campaign for dramatic reform; work place, medical, income, taxes, etc. I think that person will succeed if they are smart. The average Joe is just plain fed up. What scares me is if it is a person who also has a hidden agenda below the surface.

          1. Burned Twice

            Sooner or later someone charismatic who is not captured by the Washington elites is going to campaign for dramatic reform; work place, medical, income, taxes, etc

            You mean like Bernie Sanders?

    2. Bazarov

      I was composing a longish comment. Just before posting, I came back here and saw this post, which presupposed most of what was in my draft.

      I use reddit frequently, and the moderation is not good. Not even in the same universe as Naked Capitalism’s moderation. Wrong think can get you easily banned, even if you don’t actually voice the wrong think on that mod’s particular subreddit (for instance, mere association with wrong think in your past comments on another subreddit or association with a “bad” subreddit is enough for most mods to ban).

      Generally, reddit’s ruling ideology–as in the ruling ideology of the powermods–is your usual breadtube social justice warrior hysteria. I say “generally” because it obviously depends on the subreddit. There are plenty of right wing subreddits that pillory social justice warriors.

      However, right wing subreddits have an odd propensity to disappear, as in kicked off of the platform entirely. The same is true with left wing subreddits that are critical of prevailing woke ideology (as occurred with the ChapoTrapHouse subreddit). Usually this is done by the powermods via some pretext like a post that advocates “violence” or is anti-trans or something. The subreddits that fall in line never seem to be executed in this fashion, even though I’ve seen very edgy posts on those subreddits that would get them banned if they appeared on their right wing or anti-woke leftwing counterparts.

      1. Darthbobber

        There are also subreddits that will exclude you automatically if you are subscribed to “hostile” subreddits.

      2. Basil Pesto

        These posts make me giggle in a nostalgic way. Having grown up with the internet, I spent a lot of time on discussion boards in the pre-reddit, pre-fb era. The drama! The cliques! The moderation hierarchies! Notably phpbb boards of the early/mid aughts could implement a ‘reputation’ system, prefiguring the dopamine snacks of facebook and reddit alike. It almost always seems to lead to the cheapest demagoguery.

        I mentioned this as the pre-fb era specifically because to be spending time on these online activities was to
        mark oneself out as a loser/nerd. Socialising online was seen as rather gauche, or even through a lens of moral panic (before I first met a group of internet ppl irl, my dad ironically (?) referred to them as the ‘paedophile support group’). Within a few short years, almost everyone would be doing it.

        But I digress, apart from the social acceptability part I touched on, there’s a delightful plus ça change quality to these inside baseball reports on the relevant subreddits. A sociology/anthropology of social
        media from 1995 to today with a focus on discussion boards might be interesting.

    3. Questa Nota

      The top moderator of a subreddit basically also has complete control and the top moderator is just the person who starts the subreddit (at least initially). I say control/controlling because the interest that these mods want to enforce may be very different that the typical users of the subreddit and the users of the subreddit have no recourse against bad moderation.

      First mover censor advantage?

    4. Henry Moon Pie

      Strongly agree that Ford was picked by Waters’s producers as the best target for Jesse. But to me, Ford was a thoughtful young person. Waters was a smirking, overgrown prom king.

      1. t

        Curious about how Ford might have been “prepped” prior to that interview. Someone may have done a lot of work to get her off balance even before she went on.

        1. Robert Hahl

          I didn’t see anything off-balance about the interview from Ford’s side. The interviewer was just another Fox fool. If you care to reach out to people you have to go where they are, like Glen Greenwood does with Fox. He gets a lot of criticism for that too.

        2. fjallstrom

          If you go into an interview thinking you will be interviewed and then the person with whom you probably had a nice chat beforehand starts ripping you apart, a normal person will be slaughtered. What you need to do in that situation is ignore what the other person says and just push your story, stay with your talking points. But that is hard because it is very rude and goes against what most people know as reasonable behaviour.

            1. Hank Linderman

              A NC story on what media training entails would be interesting. “Smile and look innocent” sounds like appropriate advice.


            2. Keith Newman

              I remember Bernadette Devlin, Northern Ireland civil rights activist and member of parliament, responding to an especially silly question by a CBC interviewer 50 (!) years ago: “That’s the wrong question. You should have asked…” and then proceeding to ask the question she wanted to answer. Quite brilliant I thought. Sadly I’ve never had the presence of mind to do that myself when I’ve been interviewed.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Nothing in Ford’s previous life — and she has apparently been an active anarchist for some time — prepared her for going on FOX.

            Thinking about this, though, is being “good on FOX” really the qualification we think it is? I’m not so sure. (However, in this case, it would have been better for her not to go at all; I’m not sure why a moderator thinks they would also represent the “community,” but maybe that’s how things work on Reddit?)

  4. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

    I’ve been withholding my labor for a good many years, now. Rather than pushing paper and bothering subordinates, I Just finished vacuuming my flea-bitten beige carpet (my dog is at the vet being neutered), and I’m sitting down for a delicious meal of vegan ramen and pickled radish from my own garden.

    I don’t miss the middle class and work-less “work” at all.

    Maybe I’ll check out this “antiwork” thing. TFTL!

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. me, too…although i was pretty much forced into retirement at 37(bad hip, no healthcare, tragicomedy ensues and is maintained for almost 7 years)

      i work all the time, now…but for little money, and for myself.
      all that as well forced the still ongoing transition to autarky…or as near as we can get to it.
      because, ultimately, the biggest Life Lesson i derived from being forced by circumstance to stop working, is that what i’d been doing all those years wasn’t worth it(cooking=>cheffing).
      even the initially cool bosses ended up frazzled and weird…and of course, no healthcare, pension, or anything else to make up for the shitty pay.
      i sometimes miss the pure chef parts…razzle dazzle, awesome food(i was good).
      but i don’t miss the rest…some bosses stirring up conflict between wait and kitchen…or never having heard of the concept of “overtime”…hell! 4 out of the 6 places i’ve worked out here never filed my paperwork…and i guess just pocketed the money…and i didn’t find out til i’m in the SSI office, trying to get on disability.
      after i was out, i realised that i hated working for other people.
      that’s when i came across Black’s book.

      part of the long term(hurry, up! It’s Time…)
      plan around here is a prix fix, one day a week, reservation only supper club(in season).
      where i can be a chef, and then run all those people off.
      almost to the point where 70 or so % of the food can be on farm(and thus legal,lol)
      beyond things like that…where i’m in control…nah…i’ll never have a job, again.

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        Wow, my best (only remaining) friend, who is also my children’s godfather, was a chef at expensive restaurants in Seattle (lots of dishes with oysters, charcuterie, and French sorrel) until he quit in disgust about the same time I did. I packed off and left for the scab-lands and he moved to Renton, right near one of the old (defunct) Boeing plants. Ahh, the “Jet City” of my youth. What a great place. I avoid it at all costs, now, and so does he. He’s poorer than me, and is excited about a new prospect of a full time job at the meat counter at Fred Meyer.

        I wonder how many people, given the opportunity to not “work” (in my case, bullsh|t “management”) and not worry about money, but living no better than the upper-lower class, would take it? I work harder now than I ever did as a boss and it feels good.

        Voluntary middle-fingers-up is a whole different story than dealing with physical realities and their imperatives. I’m sorry, and I don’t wish to sound cavalier. Your restaurant idea sounds great, and I wish you success!

    2. Cat Burglar

      I have always wondered if the incompetence of our political class is the result of a post-Vietnam withdrawal of labor by decent people who decided to direct their effort elsewhere than the imperial state.

      1. John

        Ding ding ding…you got my number. Three years in Army during VN era was enough to strip much of my PMC programming. Rage about it took much of the rest. Withhold, deflect, shirk (my favorite word) avoid, procrastinate…yes. The machine is still the machine and it only wants to crush you. But you do have to be clever to avoid that.
        I did and like the young lady says, I get to work with angels, but you know, many days it is just better to hang out by the creek and watch the clouds go by doing nothing. There are angels in the sky too.
        If more of the angry chimps did that, we would not be in the middle of the 6th Extinction. There will be no more work when that really gets going.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I have always wondered if the incompetence of our political class is the result of a post-Vietnam withdrawal of labor by decent people

        That could be part of it. I think the indecent people are in finance, i.e. running the country.

  5. Kurtismayfield

    When you are invited to Fox, and you are anywhere to the left of Juan Williams, you should know it’s a hit job. So either don’t do it, or be prepped. This person did neither.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      and i’m sorry, but the following is simply the reality:
      i don’t even have to check my local rightyweb duck blinds to know that wherever this interview is being discussed, much mention is being made of the transgenderish qualities of this person.
      talk about a red herring…
      from the latter interview, she is articulate….and, like Lambert, i can’t say i’d do any better in such an interview.
      but the “he/she”(guarantee that’s the term floating past the duck blinds) aspect is just too redmeat and juicy for the rightymob to ignore…and they’re well primed for it, as well.
      i’ve lived among right wing people all my life.
      such radical ideas like antiwork need to introduced 1. by one of their own(perceptionwise), and 2. introduced in bit sized, pre-chewed morsels…with gravy.
      3. over a long time.

      in my experience in the field with the tribes i’ve been embedded in, antiwork ideas can have traction…but just like with newdealism, unionism, and so forth…it takes one on one figuring out the language…and set and setting, as it were.

      1. Keith Newman

        Very insightful comment Amfortas. (@3:39 pm)
        When I was director of research at a large industrial union in Canada we initiated a program to reduce work hours, first by eliminating overtime. It required detailed interviews with over 100 shop floor workers, a questionnaire with 3000 responders, and a lot of discussion for us to get our arguments right. But we did in the end.

  6. Watt4Bob

    I witnessed a few brawls, actual and figurative between revolutionaries and reformists in the Co-op movement in Minneapolis in the late 70s.

    It seemed to me that the revolutionaries were way too ready to punch someone, and that the someone was going to be the reformists, as in, they who actually did all the work at the stores.

    It’s a shame that schism seems perennial.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I remember hearing those very stories while I was working for a cooperative education clearinghouse in Ann Arbor. Those revolutionaries weren’t afraid to come in swinging chains. Pretty frightening, if you ask me.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Larouchies used to do that during their so-called “Operation Mop-up”. Could some of those chain-swingers have been Larouchies?

    2. Cat Burglar

      You could think of the anarchists as having negative and positive programs.

      The negative program is to overthrow the institutions of power. Think of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, where a police-free zone was established.

      The positive program is the cooperative society where people’s talents can be used together to create a better life. There has not been a lot of progress on that front — there was no organization to supply the needs of the occupiers of the Zone. That’s where the movement needs a lot more work, if it is going to go forward.

  7. Robert Hahl

    I was just about to go and check out Reddit again before reading Ford “…was removed as a moderator.” Reminds me of when ZPG changed its name to The Population Connection. You just knew it was going to accomplish nothing.

    1. JTMcPhee

      All this reminds me of the arc of Daily Kos’s history. Proud and sad to have been banned for life for pointing out, during the joyful-weeping phase after Obama’s first election, just how awful his actual policy positions were.

      Bad almost always drives out good, except here at NC…

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > the joyful-weeping phase after Obama’s first election

        Then came the phase where we wondered if Obama’s heart was in the right place.

        Then came the phase where we said “He’s only been President ___ months, give him a chance.”

        Then came the phase where we said “The President is not a dictator!”

        Then came the Green Lantern phase….

        Interestingly, Biden never went through a similar declension, other than a pretty non-organic “Biden could be today’s FDR!” phase at the very beginning of his Administration. But all too soon, like one of those Despair de-motivational posters:

        And here we are!

  8. bob

    “Advance’s portfolio of exceptional companies includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, The IRONMAN Group, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, 1010data, and POP. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Discovery and Reddit.”‘

    Advance Local, owners of,,,,,,,

    Reddit is a joke. Advance local got rid of commenting on all of their websites, and yet still run reddit. They want the conversations that they can direct.

    They own LOTS of mid size media. Along the lines of Sinclair. They probably own stuff with sinclair.

    Big contraditions

    1. Questa Nota

      Those are some intriguing nasty synergies. It wouldn’t take much to happen to share some user data across those platforms.

      Say, kid, we saw what you TurnedItInto, and we’ve notified the authorities our affiliates the authorities. Btw, your cable bill just went up.

    2. upstater

      My dad worked for the Syracuse papers in the mid 1950s. He said the Newhouses (Advance Media today) rode the sleeper on the New York Central from the city once a week to “manage” the business and return that night on the sleeper (no hotel bills!). The legend was they always had big leather bags that they filled with cash. They were virulently anti union. But they have endowed such impressive buildings and endowed like minded academics at Syracuse University, so they must be good folks…

      Advance Media is scraping data from any willing party, right, left, center, woke, unwoke, etc. Surveillance capitalism. You are the product.

  9. harrybothered

    I am on reddit frequently – generally at r/WayOfTheBern. There has been a lot of comment over the r/antiwork debacle which has turned into a real saga. Several of our members have been commenting on and making posts about r/antiwork and the general consensus is that it has now been taken over by idpol heavy moderators, who have removed many of the posts that made it worthwhile in the past. This is nothing new on reddit. r/WayOfTheBern members were former r/KossacksforSanders members who left after we were told that we’d better vote for Hillary or else and any dissension from that stance or even mild criticism of Hillary was a bannable offense. And that was after we’d all left dailykos for pretty much the same reason. If you’ve been involved with these groups enough you start to notice that the same mods are present in several of the groups you left or were banned from and they are also mods of many, many groups at the same time. And all of these groups seem to have many rules and comments are deleted and people banned without explanation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > And that was after we’d all left dailykos for pretty much the same reason. If you’ve been involved with these groups enough you start to notice that the same mods are present in several of the groups you left or were banned from and they are also mods of many, many groups at the same time. And all of these groups seem to have many rules and comments are deleted and people banned without explanation.

      Reddit is big enough for a real class structure to evolve, fascinating…..

      1. MK

        Almost like ‘real’ world – many of the same tired knownothings are on multiple boards, associations, think tanks, etc. Real diverse, except for the acceptable groupthink thoughts.

  10. Henry Moon Pie

    “if I may file anarchists with the left”

    You certainly may. Anarchists are anti-capitalist. I know some Randians have tried to claim that word too, but I never cooperate with them. They’re about words the way George Steinbrenner was about land. Being Propertarians, they want to own all the words next to theirs.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > You certainly may. Anarchists are anti-capitalist

      My litmus test for the left is putting the working class first. If I look at (say) Occupy, I’m not sure that actually existing anarchism does this. Not enough to be “anti”!

  11. Cat Burglar

    Ford cites Bob Black as an intellectual influence, and Black is probably the most important thinker behind antiwork.

    While The Abolition of Work is his anti-work manifesto, the opening essays in Friendly Fire, where he attacks a pro-work libertarian critic (“I want liberty; Steele, in Liberty, prefers industry. I think the rag should rename itself Industry if that is where its deepest loyalty lies.”), and considers what the experience of hunter-gatherer societies says about work under compulsion, the second book expands and specifies his ideas.

    As you would expect, you can read it for free online, and it is pure pleasure to read!

  12. Jason Boxman

    Wow, I misread what this was about in the title! I thought it was an anti-woke reddit against “doing the work” (of understanding systemic racism and your role in it as a white person) as it is frequently referred to at DEI (diversity & inclusion) seminars.

    I got my woke and work wires crossed!

  13. Soredemos

    I was thinking about bringing this whole affair up here, but simply forgot too. The /r/stupidpol subreddit, the only actually good left wing sub on the entire site, was all over this when it happened. Their conclusion was that it was an entirely genuine shift from within the authentic denizens of antiwork, as opposed to some sort of op by glowing FBI agents or similar. The antiwork sub always smelled of angry kids with the vaguely right impulse, but no theory or comprehensive worldview. They were always ripe for a woke takeover of woolly thinking.

    I think it’s a genuine turn toward ineffective liberalism, in the same why The Real News Network neutered itself as a consequence of kicking Paul Jay out. The FBI doesn’t actually have to run a COINTELPRO anymore; the woke will willing gut themselves and not even realize they’re doing it.

    1. Utah

      I follow both of those communities, and I would agree with this take. Stupidpol is very against identity politics, which irks me sometimes because of the way they act. For example, their use of what are now derogatory terms really just gets to me, because everybody knows not to use it, but they do it and it almost feels like they have to use these terms to show that they aren’t the other guys.

      Anyway, stupidpol started talking about how anti work was going downhill a few months ago because identity politics was being injected in. They weren’t wrong.

      Last thing. I think if Ford could have reframed her job as a dog walker and made Watters look unprepared it would have helped the cause. Something like “in the capitalist zeitgeist, my job title would be entrepreneur, and my duties include managing client assets.” Use their language to show them that dog walking is a skill, just like flipping burgers and waiting tables is a skill.

      1. Basil Pesto

        heh, I toy with ironically inverting wokester language in this way for fun but never thought to do it in this fashion with arch-capitalist rhetoric. Clever!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The antiwork sub always smelled of angry kids with the vaguely right impulse, but no theory or comprehensive worldview. They were always ripe for a woke takeover of woolly thinking. I think it’s a genuine turn toward ineffective liberalism

      Thank you both for these comments. As for “ineffective liberalism,” liberalism is effective; it’s just a question of at what.

      Another conclusion one might draw is that a similar process will happen whenever a “community” reaches a certain scale, if only (in the most benign case) because ill-educated newbies overwhelm the genuine “organic intellectuals” in the “community.” One might argue that a federated system of 100 NC-sized sites would be more resilient than a single site the size of 100 NCs.

  14. Gulag

    “It is hard to conclude anything other than the right is making more effective use of social technology than the left.”

    What I would call the largely Populist Right in Canada has also done something quite wonderful on a tactical level–using Big Rigs and some kind of wonderful Canadian sense of decorum to try and shut down or paralyze (at a minimum one major city–Ottawa).

    What is left of the “left” should put aside its obsession with pronouns and take the time to understand how the Canadian convey was organized and how logistics (gas, food, rest) are being handled.

    In my opinion it is an immense accomplishment and a consequence of working class participation and experience. These type of tactics have the vibration of real revolt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What is left of the “left” should put aside its obsession with pronouns and take the time to understand how the Canadian convey was organized and how logistics (gas, food, rest) are being handled.

      The subject matter of the post inspires me to see if I can embed one of those stupid applause memes to show how vehemently I agree:

      Now I’ve done it. I hope this wasn’t a very bad idea.

    2. LAS

      Agree about the identity politics and use of pronouns. It seems to be a concession by the highly educated elite who want to give the impression of being “pro-rainbow” and “liberal” while all the while clutching their privileges, high rank, high salary, inherited wealth, and control of the hierarchy/caste system ever more tight. They assume the role of lecturing people on the proper use of pronouns and the social disparities (just as historically they have lectured people on their poor individual choices and lack of work ethic). They wield identity politics as an intellectual diversion from active change. Who the heck in the working class ever bubbled up wide concern about their “pronouns”? Meanwhile — tsk, tsk — goodbye voting rights. Worker rights. Right to not work in unsafe and low remunitive circumstances that provide no opportunity to use one’s own innovative capacity. Good bye women’s access to healthcare. Good bye child tax credit. Yes, let’s purposely misunderstand what’s important to working families. Let’s preserve our high position in the caste system while imaging our being helpful b/c the people need to understand pronouns.

  15. XXYY

    I have been lurking, and occasionally posting, on the antiwork subreddit for a couple of months now. Aside from any overarching ideology, I thought the sub served an extremely valuable purpose by essentially being a 24/7 support group for people who are getting screwed over by their employers in various ways. Always on, always available, whether you work the swing shift or the graveyard shift or are just in the bathroom during the day shift.

    People who were at the end of their rope got sound advice and encouragement, people who were celebrating quitting their oppressive jobs got high fives from others, and people who were genuinely confused about whether some workplace practice was illegal could draw on other people’s knowledge. Historically, labor unions to some extent had this responsibility in the past, ensuring that workers didn’t feel isolated and alone. Antiwork is a much bigger and better way of handling this aspect of workers lives, I think.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Historically, labor unions to some extent had this responsibility in the past, ensuring that workers didn’t feel isolated and alone. Antiwork is a much bigger and better way of handling this aspect of workers lives, I think.

      One would like to think that unions were more about material realities, and not about feelings?

      1. Keith Newman

        Quite true Lambert, however standing before the boss knowing all your union workmates are there with you is very empowering. You are not alone.

  16. MP

    I’ve spent much of the past month reading Marx’s Grundrisse, which expands on a lot of the points made in Capital but with notes, footnotes, and argumentation all added in to show you how he came to his later conclusions. It’s fascinating, but the most interesting part is that it forces you to reinterpret the ethos of the “seize the means of production” that is often grasped on from Marx’s work. People like to focus on the point of production, but Grundrisse makes it clear that labor is literally just anti-capital, and capital is anti-labor, both the negation of each other; accordingly, production is the presupposition of wants and needs and desires of both the populace and of the capitalist class.

    So while I agree with the anarchist leanings of the group, work is not the only thing that has to be abolished. Because labor is just the spontaneous formation from capital, and vice-versa, it’s partially correct that shutting off the labor tap hurts capital. But the mode of capital is exchange value, which presupposes circulation of money for commodities/services/etc. So closing your eyes and wishing work away does not actually make it so, because the combination of capital being circulated and wants and needs and desires being formulated will reproduce labor, if we like it or not. The challenge is not just to replace work, which is at the point of production, but replacing an entire process that acts as the fuel that generates the growth of our economy. Worker owned cooperatives don’t fix that problem. We would need to replace the very vector of price (or price as we know it is calculated) as a mode of exchange for goods. and replace it with an entirely different value formula for running society. That entire concept is one that I’ve been trying to wrap my head this entire month and it’s still very possible that Marx never had enough time to elaborate on what that process would even look like.

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