Brady F. Anderson

Shop Class As Soulcraft

My Notes

People find solace in self-reliance because it makes the world feel intelligible. Bringing the source of our wealth closer to home makes our surroundings seem more human.

Physical manifestations of your efforts enable permissionless validation of your work. Someone else must verify that your knowledge work is valuable, while you can identify whether your building stands, vegetables grow, or motorcycle functions.

We are surrounded by objects that last far beyond the activity it took to produce them.

Ford said that doubling wages was the best cost-cutting move he ever made. The workers were twice as anxious to keep their jobs so he could run conveyors three times as fast. This edge let him crush his competition, so the only car manufacturing jobs you could get were stressful ones.

An insidious idea: debt makes people more civilized, not more corrupt. By multiplying wants, workers become disciplined to continue working.

Trades enable a stoic lifestyle. You are free to live by your means and have no risk of your work becoming abstracted away from your own hands.

Emphasis on meritocracy in teaching, i.e., grades, distorts education into a sorting mechanism. We forfeit curiosity to produce credentials.

Many people find their “self” in their leisure activities, not their work. The measure of a good job then becomes how well it enables those activities. This idea reminds me of a story of a businessman who visits Greece for a fishing trip. The businessman tries to convince his fishing guide to come back to New York and make a pile of money in banking. What for, asks the fisherman. So I can pay to come to do what I already do every day, once a year?

Pride and dignity in working-class activities are a reality for many. Certain Marxists, from the outside, would label this self-esteem: false consciousness. This presumption infuriates me.