Hobsbawm summarily dismisses critics such as Josh Cohen, David Graeber and Sarah Jaffe as part of 'an emergent purist camp' which holds that 'work represents a failure of society, certainly of capitalism, and that work is essentially not an opportunity but a threat'. But these critics do not say that work is 'pointless', as she claims, only that a turbo-capitalist conception of work makes excessive and toxic demands on us. Their writing deserves to be engaged with rather than caricatured ... Hobsbawm would probably put Jonathan Malesic in the purist camp. But his acutely felt investigation of work burnout as an 'ailment of the soul' makes his the more thought-provoking and substantial of these two books.
Though Hobsbawm’s prescriptions are high on optimism and short on specifics, her message that 'work can and should be not only a source of raw income but also a purposeful life itself' is inspiring. CEOs, managers, and employees will take heart in this encouraging thought experiment.