Wednesday, 22 April 2015

To be or not to be a mother

It is that time of life, when suddenly everyone around you speaks about weddings, real estate and procreation. Being one who does not enjoy the centralised attention and organisational stress which accompanies birthday parties, wedding is out. As for real estate, it is my bank who decided it is not for me. Only the procreation question remains open.

Up until recently, I had never questioned the fact that I wanted children some day. And one morning I realised that some day means now, or at least in the near future.

Being surrounded by couples with young children, I feel I know what deciding to have children means, or at least how and how much it changes one’s life. Especially women’s. This led me to the realisation that I do not want my life to change, not now. Nor in the near future. Yet how will I feel in a further future, when I will not have much of a choice? The classic modern feminine procreation catch-22.

So let’s try to decide, now.

On the one hand I am good with children. I may not be the most entertaining person they have met, but I give them structure and security. Having taken care of my two baby sisters at the tender age of 10, I have no fear of crappy nappies and crying toddlers. I equally know how to manage homework and balance them with organised leisure activities, and through my 15 years younger step-son I am learning how to deal with teenagers. So if I were to have a child tomorrow, I think I would be ready.

That may actually be part of the problem. I think I know too much, at least of the responsibility and burden. So much so that I started to perceive motherhood as some sort of alienating experience, just when my friends enter their baby-craving phase. I remember going through this phase too, a few years. I would book a return flight to visit my sister, who had two young girls. Playing part-time surrogate mum for a week and witnessing what motherhood had done to my sister’s everyday life was a homeopathic mental contraceptive.

I understand there is much more to motherhood than sleepless nights and dirty clothes. Some will say it is a unique cosmic experience, others will speak about the infinite unconditional love, the rejuvenating effect or the sudden unquestionable purpose it gives to their lives.

For now, I have purpose, I still feel young and I have enough love.

All may change, I know. Which is why I felt the need for advice from other women, who already had had to make these choices.

I am surrounded by many mothers who share their desperation. Of course, none of them would say they regret having had children. After all, the existence of a human being remains sacred and unquestionable. I did not need to hear that from those mothers. It was enough to ask myself whether I would want to be in their shoes, and hear a “no!” echo in me.

These uncertainties remain difficult to discuss with mothers. It feels both like an insult to their own children and knife twist into their open wounded overcharge.

Perhaps surprisingly, it has been easier to talk to women who had chosen against motherhood. Maybe because I am so clearly of the same view that they feel safe enough to share. None of them tell me they regret. It might be for the same reasons than mothers: at this stage, not much to be done.

I have nothing against children. I actually do like them. I also like my quite evenings and sleepy mornings. And I hate being pressured by organisational preconditions in my private life. I hate sport, and my body is already not in the best shape. What would pregnancy and breast-feeding do to it? I like my job, although I also like free-time. I don’t think one can have both and children on top.

The unconditional love argument is compelling. Yet many couples with children see their relationship go down the drain. This may be what happens to relationships in any case. I guess the sleeplessness, constant individual sacrifices, lack of intimacy and time can’t help. Sometimes I think I value my relationship too much, just like the rest of my life, to put it through the challenges of raising children.

The cosmic experience point is not bad either. Let’s assume it is a cosmic experience. One which is available to everyone who can procreate, not based on merit that is, but mere natural randomness. Does it mean it is the only cosmic experience available in life?

As for the rest – passing on my values, spreading my genes or continuing the human race – I see no reason why it should be done. Not that I am not convinced that my values and my genes are better than many.

I guess the only person who could give me real answers to those questions would be someone who has lived both lives, with and without children. If you are that person, your comment to this post would be much appreciated.

So I still don’t know. Maybe the lack of baby urge is an answer. Maybe the constant questioning is one too. Or not. Maybe I don’t need an answer yet. All I know is: I am happy to be childless tonight, to just sit and write or watch a movie with a glass of wine, freely. Just like every other evening.

Sunday, 5 April 2015


It is my fourth day at home. I wake up, see the sun and decide I must go have coffee outside and write about something. Something which is not a research paper, a political analysis or a legal complaint. Happy Easter.
I have had a job for the past few months. One I wanted and one I like. A job which allows me to be me professionally, even in the Berlin jungle of employment. For now, it provides me with a feeling of fulfilment and purpose. I enjoy the thrill, because I know it will fade away.
Apart from not spending idle days with my partner, driving aimlessly through parks and cafe hopping, one of the main downsides of my job is that it leaves me with no mental space to think about humans outside of work. I do it all day long; I’m done once I’m home.
Yet it is what I wanted, with the international touch I need and overall left-wing politics I agree on. I am much more engaged. So I stopped writing, because anything I touched suddenly turned into a manifesto. Hopefully not today.
So I am back in the game, more engaged, but with far less perspective. Time does not pause anymore, even when I do nothing. I seem to never reach the side line where one can simply stand and observe. When I try to think, I feel confused, reach quick conclusions and leave it there.
I feared I had betrayed my work-unleashed self, though I knew unemployment could not go on forever. So I went back to testimonies of that self and realised: I do work 8 hours, including minutes when work interferes with home pleasures through the evils of mobile devices. And I deduct overtime, as my contract allows. The Alienation Process is therefore not complete, and I may just have found the perfect employer. I enjoy this thought, because I know it will fade away...
Happy Easter. My working self has long resurrected. Let the contemplating one rise again.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Short Eats

Ramadan is almost over, but not yet exactly. It gives my post just enough time to be relevant.

After observing me for a month not eating, wandering around drained of all energy, pushing myself to do anything, giving up and falling asleep whilst watching a historical documentary, my sweetest and dearest had to ask: “Why?”

The first answer is obvious. I am a believer and as such I think I owe it to my belief to dedicate a month to it once a year. Not because I fear ending up in hell. I do not care much about paradise and the eternal flames. Besides, I am not in it for fear of punishment or greed of reward. Although I admit my belief has to do with fear – namely, that of the meaninglessness of our existence and ultimately, death. Then again, what human action doesn't come from them?

Ramadan is therefore my month of spiritual laboring, with a hope that its effect will last throughout the year.

Ramadan is also cultural, a tradition I started taking part in as a child. Fasting reminds me of that time and of the loved ones I left behind. During it, I eat food which throws me back in time. The smell of that soup, the touch of that pastry. Ramadan, just like Christmas, also connects me to people all around the world.

To me, Ramadan is also revolutionary. For a whole month, I am out of the daily tyranny of the Get More Done. Having no energy, I stop being a work force to just be a human. I use my strength with great economy, thinking carefully before acting. I only go to the essential, at work and at home. No triviality allowed. No messing around. With that drop of energy comes a certain peace. My whole body slows down, and so my mind. I become more contemplative.

Once the essential is done, there is still plenty of time before break-fast. It is an opportunity to do what one never takes the time to do: sort out papers, watch a five hours documentary with your mother, cook complicated meals. Cooking being the only way to get anywhere near food, I do an awful lot of it during Ramadan. Then when comes dinner, none of it gets eaten. The stomach shrunk. A soup is all. And a few sweets. Which means no weight lost. Never mind. Having fantasised about those cakes all day long, you just eat them.

Finally, not eating the whole day makes me appreciate food, drinks and having energy rushes. In fact, studies have shown that fasting was good against depression and in some cases had cured heavy psychiatric illnesses. Part of it has to do with the metabolism, sure, but part of it is the simple deprivation – supply of aliments mechanism.

Now, the biggest reward of all, after a month of Ramadan, is the celebration of its end. Where I come from, it starts with a longed-for breakfast with traditional pastries - or as my aunt would say, “just bread and butter. I've missed it so much.” Given how late I always am, I won't get to tell you about it until is is already Christmas, so here it goes: breakfast is followed by the mosque (for men who attend it), a couscous for lunch and visits to and from friends and family. You should wear something new, and children receive money from adults. Now, see you later, I am going back to my baking. Have I mentioned I am running late?

Friday, 18 July 2014

What I have learnt from the World Cup

I have not written in a while. It's Ramadan. I am fasting. I have had to prioritise my energy spendings. Yet I wanted to say a few things about the World Cup. Now that it is over. In bullet points, if you please:

  1. The World Cup is great. Whatever those who don't like it say. Everyone else watches it, even if most of us never watch football the rest of the time. It should not be called suggestibility. It should be called knowing how to grab an opportunity to share a common experience with other human beings once every four years. A bit like Ramadan or Christmas, really.

  2. And all these people do become experts in football. They do. The rules are easy enough. Personally, after 30 years of existence, I do say things like: “If we end up in penalty shoot-outs during this final, it will be like in 1994 when Brazil won against Italy because one of the Baggios screwed up.” Gob-smacked boyfriend. Try me.

  3. The Brazilian team was pretty shit this year. For the first time in my life they disappointed me big time. I even supported them against France in 1998. A myth definitely died. Sorry Brazil. I love you, but it's true.
  1. The 1998 Ronaldo has become shockingly fat. I caught a glance of him during the Germany-Brazil semi-final massacre. Still unsure what shocked me more.

  2. Germans do not know when to stop. They shoot as long as they can, with no sense for the non-necessity of humiliation. Apparently, there is only one game when the score was worse than this Brazil-Germany debacle encounter. It was Saudi Arabia against... Germany. Maybe the Brazilian team should teach the Champions how to score 3 goals, waste time for the rest of the game and not make the rest of Europe resent you even more. Just a thought.

  3. The German team won because they deserved it, but the Germans don't. They can't party properly. Serious. I was in a bar in Berlin when they won. Let's say that in comparison with Parisian streets when Algeria won against Korea. Was like comparing an exam with a wedding.

  4. The Algerian team was surprisingly good. The first Arab team to qualify for the Round of 16. I had heard commentators on German TVs and radios before that game. “It will be a piece of cake” had they said. I was boiling. It was not. They shivered. I smiled. Inside. Yet the Algerian players failed to score, despite the many opportunities they created for themselves. Goal panic syndrome. I wondered if it may have been an internalisation – of – Eurocentrism – and – post-colonial - self-devaluation syndrome. Then the French screwed up even more and I thought, “Maybe the Germans are just good”.

  5. I hate nationalism. It is a stupid and ugly feeling. And if I had to give a bad point to the World Cup, it would be for allowing this ugliness to come out in the open. I hate painted flags on people's faces, stupid hats and dressing up. I do. Although I think there is a distinction between the nationalism of citizens from an already powerful countries, and that of small countries which have no weight globally anyway. Go Cameroon!

  6. Which brings me to my last subject. I was in France during the games of Algeria against Korea and Russia. I was shocked to see that in neighbourhoods of important Algerian community, there were almost no open places to watch the games. This was already made hard by the fact that the only mainstream TV Channel broadcasting the World Cup games – TF1 - had not bothered buying broadcasting rights for games played by the Algerian team – despite the importance of the Algerian community in France and the fact that 16 out of the 22 Algerian players are also French citizens. So watching those games was hard, real hard. Definitely harder than in Germany, where I had enjoyed Algeria-Belgium on a big screen in a Beergarten.

  7. Walking around Barbès, our very own Whitechapel, and not finding a single open cafe or bar to watch the bloody thing, I wondered if the closing down of all such businesses in these neighbourhoods had anything to do with administrative measures or friendly police warnings. I knew that a crazy extreme right-wing movement had asked the Ministry of Interior to ban Algerian flags and people in the streets during certain games of the World Cup. Like during the independence war. Well, apparently, the whole country's gone mad, as in Roubaix the maire did in fact impose a curfew during the Algerian team games, thus preventing any celebrations or movement. And in Nice the Algerian flag was prohibited. Beautiful, really.

  8. So as much as I hate nationalism and had puffed and huffed at the sight of fellow Algerians posting red-white-green pictures on Facebook before the World Cup, less than 12 hours in France made me look for an Algerian flag the size of a swimming pool to pin on my building walls. It suddenly felt as if the sheer existence of Algerians was still blatantly unacceptable for a certain category of people in France. Hence the extremely lavish celebration of themselves by the Algerian community. Also, dancing at darbouka rhythms in the middle of the night in Montmartre is fun. It just is.

  9. This all makes the solving of social problems encountered by the working class of immigrant background in France very hard. The issues are blurred and people are confused. And as if this was not enough, we sprinkled it all with a bit of Islam and Burka debate. Yummy. Yet I believe the first one to identify that class of French population by its religion - way before they all decided to transform into bad replicas of 14th century Arab tribe men like in Egyptian soap operas - was our beloved former President. You know, the short nervous guy who got arrested not long ago. Please don't make me say his name. Really, I have had enough. The new one may be a tad insignificant, but to be honest, it's a nice change.

That is it for today. I hope you enjoyed. I am going back to fasting. It is a full time activity. Now, for those of you who may be wondering why, despite the suffering, I still love Ramadan and fast every year, I will explain, promise. Once it is over, of course. For now, I need to keep my energy for more essential things, like breathing.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Travestite der Kulturen

It is now official - we reached the 30 degrees mark, friends discuss lake trips, and swimsuits are being worn in trams : the Berlin Beach season just started. And with it comes the yearly Karneval der Kulturen, or Carnival of Cultures. It was described to me as a traditional carnival celebrating the diversity of communities and cultures in Berlin. Its website explains that it was created in the mid-1990s against the rise of the right-wing to promote the acceptance of a multi-cultural German society. An honorable goal, I say.

My apartment being in the heart of festivities, I naturally wanted to throw a glance and maybe move to something else than electro. Geography and personal inclination drew me to the “African music” stage. I was not moved. And so I moved. The heath was unbearable, and the crowd sweaty, red and impenetrable. Loads of foodstands, but nowhere did the music or the atmosphere catch my sensitivity. I wondered why and went back to the "African music" stage, had a jerk chicken and headed home, feeling dirty and confused. Why was I so uncomfortable?

A few days later, I stumbled upon a conference about the decolonisation of thinking. According to the speakers, a lot of our theoretical thinking is tainted with colonial ideology and the idea that Western  countries and culture are superior. This ideology is visible in economic vocabulary: we have countries that are developed, emerging and under-developed, pertaining to the first, second and third world.  It is less visible but all the more present in our everyday use of concepts. We do not qualify anything Western, and "Sciences" mean "Western Sciences". Yet we say "African literature", "South-American feminism" or "Asian modern art". As if anything Western was The Essence, the natural and exclusive ideal standard to which all others should aim.

On my way home, I thought about the carnival again. Suddenly, I understood why I was bothered. This carnival presented other cultures as being exclusively folkloric, entertaining and decorative. This is what was meant by "Carnival of Cultures". And none of the German folklore was included. It was  an over-simplifying packaging of these communities to better sell them. The music was a bland mishmash of exotic sounds to suit the taste of Brandenburg citizens coming to town to see what browner people look like when they celebrate. A "Multi-Kulti" celebration, as they say here in Germany for anything which is not exclusively German. "Multi-Kulti". Sounds like Tutti Frutti. No need to define what it is. No one cares about the essence and richness of your culture. Multi-Kulti will do.

And so the carnival subconsciously reminded me of these 19th century human zoos. Except we, browner people, were there willingly. And so I left.

On the day of the parade, I dragged myself back, giving another chance to this cultural feast. As I watched carriages from Brazilian, Dominican, Paraguayan, Laotian, Nepali and Sri Lankan cultural associations with joy, followed by the many samba and salsa school carriages, I wondered where the Syrian, Lebanese, Iraqi and Turkish carriages were. In a city essentially fed with falafels sandwiches and kebabs, it was a fair question. I checked the program. No such carriages.

Was it to do with the communities' lack of commitment or their unwillingness to expose themselves in a monkey game? True, unlike in South-America and Asia, carnivals are inexistent in Middle-Eastern cultures. They have musical wedding processions, though. That would have done the job. I wondered whether the under-representation of these communities and the consequential disparity between the carnival and the reality of immigrant communities in Berlin, had to do with the "Multi-Kulti" packaging. Maybe these people did not fit, beyond falafel sandwiches.

I don't believe multi-cultural societies need packaging. There will always be fringes of society which are not ready, individuals who cling to a long-lost identity they could not define themselves, to that something in the past when all was better. These people won't be convinced through human zoos. If anything, the artificial character of those events will only comfort them in their idea that other peoples' cultures are inferior.

My carnival thoughts brought me back to a Balkan-Gypsy event I once attended with an ex-Yugoslavian friend. As we watched a bad Balkan gypsy brass band from somewhere in Germany pretending to be from somewhere east of Vienna, he exploded: "I am sick of it. Any idiot who can play the trumpet and grow a mustache starts making dissonances very fast, behaves like a misogynist mafioso, drinks Vodka and calls himself a gypsy-Balkan musician. We don't even drink vodka. It's sljivo or rakia.” I laughed and nodded. I had witnessed the same phenomenon when salsa was the hot kid on the dance floor. After three dance classes of some sort, anyone could buy a white hat and a sleeveless top, order a Mojito and improvise himself Cuban or Colombian. Latinos were annoyed, but not too much. They could still dance better than most.   

I am all for open-mindedness and cultural exchange. Yet the only exchange I got from that carnival was that of my good bike against a shit one. We have strange bike thieves here in Berlin. They don't just knick your stuff. They give you rubbish too.

Sometimes cultural exchange happens. I saw it in the May Day festivities. Sometimes it is just post-imperial exploitation and over-simplification of other peoples' cultural heritage.

Keep calm and decolinise your thoughts.

Friday, 30 May 2014

Le goût des autres

Mon dernier post portait sur le manque de célébration du 1er Mai et des droits des travailleurs. Ca n'avait pas beaucoup de sens de le traduire en Français, vu qu'en France ces droits sont célébrés. Malheureusement, nous souffrons d'autres maux.

Au milieu du tumulte médiatique, entre les résultats du FN, les scandales politico-financiers de l'UMP et les zooms sur les antillais djihadistes, j'essaye de garder mon calme, et me demande comment l'individu lambda digère tout ça.

Les médias comme la liberté d'expression sont primordiaux alors je tenterai de ne pas en conclure que « c'est tout la faute à notre culture médiatique du sensationnel ». Je ne peux cependant m'empêcher de me demander comment, au lendemain de résultats électoraux tels, on peut encore entendre qui que ce soit dire: « Il ne faut pas trop médiatiser l'histoire du djihadisme antillais, pour éviter de contribuer à la hausse de l'extrémisme...islamiste ». A croire qu'en France, la présence marginale d'extrémistes islamistes est perçue comme plus menaçante que la victoire électorale d'un parti fasciste. Comme quoi, la montée de l'extrême droite en France, c'est comme le problème environnemental dans le monde : son ampleur se mesure à l'incapacité que nous avons d'y faire réellement face.

Je ne suis pas alarmiste et j'ai conscience que les élections européennes sont très particulières. Le taux d'abstention n'y reflète pas seulement le désengagement politique général, mais aussi la conscience que cette Europe n'est pas démocratique. Moi je voudrais que ce soit les commissionnaires qui soient élus. Je ne pense pas non plus que les résultats électoraux reflètent un réel sentiment anti-européen. Il est probable que les valeurs européennes ne soient pas aussi ancrées que les valeurs républicaines. Il est tout aussi probable que l'on ne critique pas l'Europe par Euro-scepticisme, mais seulement par lassitude, comme l'on critique le gouvernement ou l'Etat, ou tout simplement par esprit critique.

Je ne suis pas alarmiste, mais je n'exclue pas une prise de pouvoir par le FN non plus. Parce que l'exclure serait nier l'évidente montée des extrêmes et de la xénophobie. Parce que le nier serait s'empêcher de réagir. Une telle montée serait sûrement dramatique pour nous, Français 2.0 pluri-culturels. Mais elle le serait aussi pour nous, Français un point c'est tout.

C'est sûrement sur ce thème que les médias n'insistent pas assez. Pourquoi on ne nous passe pas à longueur de journée des images d'archive du Le Pen des années 1980, avec ses milices à têtes rasées  (@33:50)? Parce qu'une victoire du FN vend mieux qu'une victoire des autres ?

Il faut s'imaginer cette France gouvernée par le FN pour être prêts. Prêts à faire les bons choix, dans les urnes comme dans la rue. Marine prend le pouvoir, elle est entourée d'incapables, et se tourne vers les partis classiques pour l'aider à constituer un gouvernement. Nous aurons alors les contre et les pour, qui penseront qu'il vaut mieux être dirigés à moitié par des politiciens classiques que complètement par des fous incompétents. Vous, vous en penserez quoi ?

Ce sont des questions que dans mon autre pays nous avons du nous poser il y a longtemps. Et si là-bas, les dés des récentes élections présidentielles étaient joués dès les déclarations de candidature, je dois avouer qu'aujourd'hui les ondes civiques m'ont l'air plus radiantes dans ce pays non-démocratique non-révolutionnaire que de ce côté-ci de la Méditerranée. Là-bas, on ne se fourvoie pas sur la réalité de la situation, et faute de voter, on chante, on dénonce, on débat. Ici, on est apathique: on vote ou pas, on gobe les analyses hébétantes du poste télé, on réagit un peu sur les réseaux sociaux (comme on l'a fait pour la nouvelle coupe de La Roux la semaine dernière) et on continue notre petite vie de citoyen en république démocratique, peut être bientôt fasciste, mais comme c'est pas encore, rien ne presse.

Le modèle de démocratie classique connait une crise grave, apparemment liée au fait que l'ancien modèle d'expertise et d'autorité verticale sur lequel notre démocratie se fonde est complètement dépassé, à l'heure de l'accès au savoir universel et de la communication globale instantanée. L'éducation connait le même problème. Certes.

Je n'ai évidemment pas la solution au problème et je ne prétends pas être moins apathique. Je suis juste partie. Quand on disait encore « la France, on l'aime où on la quitte », j'ai répondu « la France, je l'aime donc je la quitte. Ca fait trop mal de la voir dans cet état ». Il me semble juste que d'être un peu alarmiste avant l'heure et d'envisager une réelle prise de pouvoir par le FN permettrait peut être d'être moins apathiques. Qu'on ne veuille plus voter UMP ou PS est compréhensible. Mais l'action politique ne se limite pas à ces choix là. Il reste l'engagement local, ou encore les autres partis. Puisque la connectivité générale nous offre des moyens sans précédent de nous informer et d'agir, faisons-le. Tant qu'à être gouvernés par des novices politiques incompétents, autant qu'ils aient des idéaux autres que fascistes. Non ?

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

My own boss

I promised myself I would post every other Wednesday. I am obviously late. I apologise to those who still bother reading me. There is one other thing you should know about me: I am always late. Always. In France, I was on the edge of acceptability. In England, I was being French. In Germany, I am straight rude.

So there. I am always late, and I am no writer. That's expectations dealt with. I was starting to feel pressured from the many positive comments on my first post, for which I am very thankful. Now, please give way to mediocrity.

Not that long ago, we celebrated Labour Day. Out of all bank holidays, it is my favourite. Sod Christmas. And I do ask myself why it does not have more fans. It should, after all, be one of the favourite celebrations of anyone employed, should it not? Perhaps its popularity is not higher because of the efforts which seem to be put everywhere to distract us from the very meaning of this day.

I here take a moment to remind myself of it: the celebration of the struggle of Chicago workers for an eight hours working day. Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for life, they said.

In France, Labour Day coincides with the welcoming of Spring. We demonstrate with Lilly of the Valley, hand in hand. Upon arriving to England, I thought there was no Labour Day. This fitted my French beliefs, that the English eat jelly for breakfast and have no public services. I was far more shocked when, upon visiting a doctor for the first time in the UK, he did not charge me, unlike in France. So much for French socialism and English capitalism. 

I later understood that Labour Day had been displaced to the first Monday of May. It was called May Day. I cannot argue against the convenience of such an arrangement. Workers automatically know they will have a long week end at the beginning of May, unlike in France. 

The flip side is that not many workers know that May Day celebrates their struggles and rights. How convenient too. In fact, word on the street is that in the UK, May Day may be scraped altogether and replaced by a celebration of the Trafalgar victory. No space for workers' rights in today's Britain. Antagonism against France, and more generally Europe, sells more, and costs nothing.

Now I am in lefty Berlin. Here everyone else is perceived as a big capitalist threat, even transient tired tourists. They make prices go up, walk on bike lanes and kill hot Berlin club nights with their long faces and high heals, apparently. So I was looking forward to my big Berliner demo on Labour Day, secretly hoping to feel the spirits of Rosa Luxemburg and her gang. I followed my Berliner Fellows, who took me to what looked like Notting Hill on Carnival Day. I must admit I was disappointed . “The demo is somewhere else. It's finished now”. So much for not checking myself. Never mind, I'll go next year, and Kurdish folk dancing is fun too. And a bit political. A bit.

Among the blurring sound systems and the cheap beer, I tried to remember: eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for life. 

That was their motto, back in the 19th century. It could still, sadly, be ours. Who amongst my friends works an average of eight hours a day, in reality? I mean, counting the emails they constantly answer to, and the work they take home during evenings, mornings and week ends?

In a recent article, the Guardian mocked the French for introducing the idea that the use of professional smart phones and emails outside of work hours should be regulated. Not that ridiculous if you ask me, though most workers would willingly opt out anyway. We are told that our jobs are fulfilling and important, and that we are lucky to have them. Yet we resemble fancy factory workers sitting at desks, churning file after file. 

One thing sure distinguishes us from factory workers: our lack of political consciousness. Who amongst us joined a union? Instead, we turn up at work on week ends to try to finish the mountains of work we are given, we drag ourselves to the office when we are ill unless we literally cannot make it there and we apologise for not working remotely on our wedding day. Bosses can lean back, even play it well and beg us to go home when we are on the brink of collapse. They know we won't anyway.

After all, maybe we deserve the scrapping of Labour Day. It should not be replaced by Trafalgar Day though. Given how much we have interiorised the exploitation of our work force, we should have an Alienation Week, during which we would all work double, sleep in the office and desperately try to end our to do lists, whilst our bosses send us pictures of their week off. Hear hear!