Sunday, August 15, 2004

French Productivity

Hard to get away from the topic of the last blog after reading the Friday Financial Times' review of the current French best-seller, Bonjour Paresse ("Hello, Laziness: The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace").

The review includes the book's 10 Commandments:

1. You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfillment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month. Full stop.

2. It's pointless to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.

3. What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.

4. You're not judge on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track.

5. Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.

6. Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm.' Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.

7. Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.

8. Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).

9. Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.

10. Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowing when ...

The reviewer notes that the author, Corinne Maier, is an economist at the state-owned Electricite de France -- and that she is in some trouble with her bosses.

As with most humor, there is something to ponder besides the fun. The fact that this stuff resonates with French readers is interesting.

And what does all of this have to do with the U.S. left singling out French approval as a proper litmus test for U.S. foreign policy?