This weeks interview is with author Tom Wayman. Since 1973 Tom has published more than 20 books of poetry and prose including the one we spoke about today – If You’re Not Free at Work, Where Are You Free? Tom has a long history as a social and political activist so this was a really lively and informative interview.
In this show we explored the idea that while we live in a democracy (of sorts), we don’t generally work in democracies. Tom maintains that we don’t have any real chance of meaningful change in our societies until we reform our work environments. Here’s a quote from his book:
For most of us, democracy ceases the moment we cross the office door or factory gate. Once we have clocked in, or otherwise have begun the working day, we are subject to authority which we have absolutely no voice in choosing. At our jobs, we are often ordered about like children. We usually have little or no control over the conditions of our employment, over the quality of the product or service our work creates, over the good or harm caused to other people by the product or service we make, and over how the wealth generated by our labour with muscle and brain will be used.
It is as though when we show up at work we cross through a time tunnel back to the era when the majority of people like ourselves did not have the vote in society and were expected to be dutifully obedient to their social “betters” – the representatives of various inherited authoritarian structures. The moment we appear at work, the democratic rights and privileges which as citizens we are assured continually by educators, politicians, and the media are the foundation of our society are all suspended. If in the midst of what we are told repeatedly is a political democracy we find such a lack of freedom at the heart of our day, at the heart of our lives, no wonder this glaring contradiction must be cloaked in silence and denial.
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