PIG: Protocols Imagine a Non-Work Life

Protocols Imagine a Non-work Life

Team member names
Wu Xiao
JY Lin

Summary of improvement idea

In Exit to Protocol (2023), Shuya Gong imagines an exit mechanism for low-quality work as retirement and regards this as the initiation of new communities. However, for many workers around the world, this exit mechanism will take 30 years or more to realize.

In the pamphlet The Abolition of Work (1991), Bob Black criticized that rather than “democracy or capitalism” or “industrialism,” the social system people experience today is better described as "factory fascism and office oligarchy. Not only does work mean monotony, boredom, and depression, but it also means that people are trapped in a daily cycle, unable to get out. David Graeber also argues in his theory of Bullshit Jobs (2018) that today’s society is hell on earth because many people waste most of their time on tasks they don’t like.

Not only do theorists think so, but those who are worried about their jobs are also struggling to find another way out. In China, when the precarious workers - “Sanhe Great God” - practiced the slogan of “one day of work, three days of play”, the elite computer programmers also launched an online initiative against excessively long working hours. In Germany, 900,000 IG Metal workers fought through collective action in early 2018 securing an agreement to reduce working hours from 35 to 25 hours per week. In the U.S., in November 2021, a historical record of 4.52 million people quit their jobs that month, in what is known as the “Great Resignation” wave following the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the development of large language models such as GPT, technology has significantly reached a new stage, and the trend of many jobs being replaced by AI seems inevitable. Contrary to widespread fears and concerns, in the animated sci-fi TV show Pantheon, released in 2023, the scriptwriter, the famous sci-fi writer Ken Liu, optimistically imagines technological developments that enable a universal basic income, freeing people from exhausting production. In fact, in many places, governments and companies are already experimenting with the four-day workweek. This could be proof that some new things can no longer be held back.

Olivia Steiert in Protocols in (Emergency) Time (2023) questions that protocols inherently lack a distinct imagination of the future, and we argue that this is because many protocols are proposed to preserve the pre-existing order. We would like to propose a protocol on non-work that imagines a possible alternative exit mechanism in the face of an alienated working life, and also the community life of people who do not work. We believe that such a protocol is imaginative for the future.

Answers to questions:

Protocols: we hope to improve or enhance: Labor relations and autonomous community networks based on the idea of refusing traditional wage labor.

Core ideas: We seek to provide workers with protocols for imagining the non-work world and ways to communicate with non-work autonomous communities.

Method: Currently, our members have already conducted a social experiment called Lay Flat(You can see the specific ideas in this article. This practice takes place in a village in northern China. During the practice, members save money through small-scale farming, bartering, collective manual labor, cooking, and using second-hand goods to reject consumerism and reduce the degree of absorption into the mainstream working system. At the same time, we are conducting collective research and discussion on non-work agreements and have made preliminary visits to the history of collectivism in neighboring villages. We learned that there are many other similar social experiments around the world.
In addition, we would apply the following research methods: A literature review and in-depth analysis of historical work system transformations. Conduct ethnographic research on existing non-working communities. Interviews with workers, activists, and organizations that are refusing to work or campaigning for shorter hours.

Prototype: We will draft a proposal to share with other non-work autonomous community and labor studies experts for feedback.

Field test: We would also organize a workshop for activists to create a new protocol: to reject the subconscious that dictates that work is the way to make life happier.

Judges: We believe that people with work experience can judge the quality of our research: whether they think our findings have encouraged them to imagine and strive for a life with less work.

Public expression: We already have our own platform for public expression. On this basis, we will disseminate our art creations (paintings), and literary works, as well as attempts to publish academic papers.

Success: The success vision is to promote a broad understanding and acceptance of non-working protocols in autonomous communities and mainstream society.


Superb, I really like the Lying Flat Manifesto and am very interested in following the specific progress of your projects. Are you in Hebei? In the future, could this lead to a UBI-like social experiment?If I wanted to follow your daily life, do you have social media?