[...] The work ethic mutates into something entirely different, much darker, compared to previous eras. It used to help fill in or suture over the emptiness of human vulnerability (an attack) and help a community imagine itself in positive terms. Now, however, salvation and redemption comes to those who submit to work not because it makes them whole again but allows people to see past themselves, to retroactively perceive the void they always were, while simultaneously keeping that nothingness at bay through hard labour. This foregrounding of the disposable nothingness we already were is an inadvertent consequence of blending the ethos of war with the everyday convention of work.
The organic excuse for employment (physical survival), in this sense, almost becomes a distraction from this other existential register and its secret martial law. Max Weber’s analysis of the Protestant ethic and its focus on a ‘calling’ inevitably misses this blend of faith and demise. For us today, work is no longer a vehicle for divine redemption. And it certainly does not save us. It merely forms the space in which existence can be judged by an immense absence or the void concerning the worthlessness of one’s sacrifice. [...]