Faced with unemployment, wage cuts, and the breaking of the social contract, what is your average proletarian to do? He or she ought, of course, to turn to satire. The Wage Slave’s Glossary is a timely work by Glenn and Kingwell. It is a small green book, with gold edging on the cover, and charming illustrations by cartoonist Seth, this year’s recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize. The book is divided into an introductory essay by Kingwell titled, “Wage Slavery, Bullshit, and the Good Infinite,” and then the glossary proper by Glenn.

Kingwell begins his oeuvre by arguing for the relevancy of the book in an era of unemployment and recession . What follows is a lighthearted discussion on the soul-crushing effects of the modern workplace, and some apt questioning of the real value of hard work. Kingwell also remarks upon the lack of any real protests to the perceived excesses of the era. Since the time of writing, Occupy Wall Street has emerged as a movement, but it appears that few are capable of demonstrating what its aims may be.

The second part of the book provides an amusing look at many of the terms associated with wage slavery. Drawing on sources from history and popular culture (including Douglas Coupland, voice of a generation), readers will be treated to tongue-in-cheek explanations of many popular buzzwords, and their genealogies. Of particular note is the well-known “synergy”, which despite being “ersatz digital newspeak,” apparently “express[es] the notion that corporate mergers will lead to efficiencies and financial benefits.” It is also probably (though not conclusively) a noun.

While The Wage Slave’s Glossary does not start a trend of systematic critique of the capitalist system, it will likely be offensive to the few who live in a bubble. But that’s a mere one percent of people, and likely they’re on the wrong side of history anyway. Such individuals are especially advised to avoid the probable next volume in the series, the red-bound Class Warrior’s Handbook. Your reviewer’s only complaint is that a hardbound edition remains unavailable.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Satirical oeuvre by Mark Kingwell and Joshua Glenn pokes fun at recession
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