The Wage Slave's Glossary: exclusive preview


My friends Joshua Glenn and Mark Kingwell wrote a gem of a book called The Wage Slave's Glossary, which was designed and edited by the great cartoonist Seth. They've kindly permitted me to run a few entries from their very entertaining little book.

The Wage Slave’s Glossary (Biblioasis) criticizes and analyzes what the Lowell Mill Girls were the first to name wage slavery. Joshua Glenn’s glossary of over 200 terms interrogates not only office jargon (from Bandwidth to Telecommuting) but labor-related slang and workplace terminology (from After-Dinner Man to Workbrickle) used to naturalize wage slavery from the dawn of industrial capitalism to the present day. Mark Kingwell’s philosophical Introduction criticizes the “work idea” itself, and its corollaries — including bureaucracy and bullshit.









Buy The Wage Slave's Glossary on Amazon


  1. Are you a dawdler? A layabout? A shit-heel? Well…

    There’s a previous book, in the same cool format, by the same cool writer/artist combine, “The Idler’s Glossary.” (Ah, I see some of you perking up… ‘Now, THAT’s the book for me!’)
    I’ve only ever seen one copy, the one I grabbed from a LES used book store shelves & bought, cheap. It’s also at Amazon as book and (for the ultra-idle) Kindle download.

  2. The Wage Slave’s Glossary (Biblioasis) criticizes and analyzes what the Lowell Mill Girls were the first to name wage slavery. 

    Do the also call the places they work “concentration camps”? And their bosses “Nazis”?

    1. Considering that they predate the Nazis by ~100 years, I doubt it. They did, however, have actual slavery to compare their conditions to.

    2. The Mill Girls wouldn’t have used those words, but they were genuinely slaves. Like the Southern sharecroppers James Agee writes about in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and like some farm workers today, they were forced to live in company housing, which, with other forced expenses, put them into an endless cycle of debt. They literally couldn’t leave their inhumane jobs, which for some of them started before they were teenaged. That’s wage slavery.

      If you’re ever in Lowell, Mass, take the tour. The Mills are now a national historic site.

  3. Read the definition of “Job Lock,” and if they have it, “Golden Handcuffs.”  If it’s a state of mind, it’s a state of being for the one with that state.

  4. It’s listed as “The Wage Slave’s Dictionary” on the Toronto Library catalogue for some reason…

  5. “Leave ’em naked termination”? I clearly see in the illustration that the fired male has been allowed to keep his hat, and yet where’s his gratitude for being treated so well? Ingrate!

  6. The entry for “downtime” paints an unrealistically rosy picture of how our employers see their employees. It contends that they work us like machines. We should be so lucky.

    In fact, we’re treated worse than machines. If a machine fails to perform due to being pushed beyond its capability, few will blame the machine. Whereas humans are expected to be able to perform, no matter how much work you dump on them.

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