The Double Shift

The Double Shift:Spinoza and Marx on the Politics of Work

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In a world of declining wages, working conditions, and instability, the response for many has been to work harder, increasing hours and finding various ways to hustle in a gig economy. What drives our attachment to work? To paraphrase a question from Spinoza, "Why do people fight for their exploitation as if it was liberation?"

The Double Shift turns towards the intersection of Marx and Spinoza in order to examine the nature of our affective, ideological, and strategic attachment to work. Through an examination of contemporary capitalism and popular culture it argues that the current moment can be defined as one of "negative solidarity." The hardship and difficulty of work is seen not as the basis for alienation and calls for its transformation but rather an identification with the difficulties and hardships of work. This distortion of the work ethic leads to a celebration of capitalists as job creators and suspicion towards anyone who is not seen as a "real worker."

The book is grounded in philosophy, specifically Marx and Spinoza, and is in dialogue with Plato, Smith, Hegel, and Arendt, but, at the same time, in examining contemporary ideologies and ideas about work it discusses motivational meetings at Apple Stores, the culture of Silicon Valley, and films and television from Office Space to Better Call Saul

The Double Shift argues for a transformation of our collective imagination and attachment to work.


  • Praise for The Politics of Transindividuality

  • I must, of course, reserve a special place for Jason Read’s [2016] book, The Politics of Transindividuality, not only because he does me the honour of devoting an entire treatment to my ‘theses’, but because he puts together a magisterial appropriation of the problematic of the transindividual, marshalling a whole set of classical and contemporary references (except for Freud, who is the relevant index of a divergence between us) to construct a great ‘transformation of philosophy’ with a view to the ‘transformation of the world.

    Etienne Balibar
  • In The Politics of Transindividuality , Jason Read accomplishes two equally important tasks. On the one hand, he gives a mapping of the discourse on individuation and transindividuality in modern and contemporary thought; on the other, he problematizes the concept of transindividuality itself in view of its usefulness for future politics. In this latter sense, Read’s own elaboration and remarks on important philosophical and political issues, such as his discussion of the relation between determination and liberation, give the book its philosophical and political direction and depth.

    Bruno GulliSituations