Meet The New Labor "Class": Mobile Creatives

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The Mobile Creative credo: trust the network, not the corporation or the state.

In America's Nine Classes: The New Class Hierarchy, I described a "wild card" new class of workers that doesn't fit the conventional paradigms: Mobile Creatives. I use the word mobile here not to suggest mobility between physical places (though that is one factor in this class's flexibility) but mobility between sectors, tools and ways of earning income.

The key characteristic of the Mobile Creative class is that they live by this credo: trust the network, not the corporation or the state. The essence of neofeudalism is debt penury and wage-slave loyalty to the New Nobility that owns the debt.

The essence of state-cartel capitalism (the dominant form of capitalism) is the state dismantles all social connections and wealth between the state and the atomized individual recipient of state welfare so the individual depends entirely on the state for his/her identity and essentials of life.

Where once existed a complex ecosystem of public life, social capital and networks of reciprocity and economic meaning, now lies a wasteland, stripmined by the state to leave nothing but the state and its ever-growing armies of dependents.

The global corporation profits from this same wasteland: the ideal arrangement to maximize debt-based consumption is an atomized individual who has no identity or self-worth other than consumerist worship of brands and corporate-supplied convenience, in other words, a permanent adolescent driven by insecurity, fear and impulse-driven consumption.

The Mobile Creative class operates outside these two states of dependency. It also operates outside the conventional labor-management divide of Marxism and socialism. Since global capital is mobile, and the state enforces central banking and cartel pricing, the class of "owners" and the state are one entity.

You either resist the entire state-cartel system or your resistance is nothing but meaningless gestures aimed at chimera.

Longtime correspondent Kevin Mercadante (Out of Your Rut) noted that being a Mobile Creative isn't just a different mode of livelihood--it's a different way of living, thinking and being.

"Mobile Creatives" describes me to the letter - I felt as if I was reading a script of my own life (at least since the financial meltdown). It also takes in a few of my friends, so it's a very real category.

This is beyond the scope of the article, but one of the things I've found to be a revelation is that the mobile creative lifestyle extends well beyond career and workstyle. Once you adopt it, everything else in your life falls in behind it.

Because of the creativity and independence that the lifestyle provides, there's less need for high cost entertainment. Vacations and weekends are less important - there's joy and adventure to be had every day. You're less concerned with retirement. You develop a sense that you'll survive what ever happens. You see more opportunities and fewer obstacles. At the same time, you're also painfully aware that things don't always work out. But you also learn that failure isn't terminal. That's huge.

Spending patterns change too. You find less expensive ways to do everything - to buy food and clothing, to fix your car, and even to entertain yourself. Free thought expands, and you find yourself drawn to other mobile creatives. Conversations with others are deeper and more meaningful - when you meet to discuss work, you're really paying attention, always on high alert for new opportunities and potential joint ventures.

On the surface, being a mobile creative is less secure than traditional careers, but I wouldn't trade it. I've been in so-called stable careers, only to discover that they're only secure until the big picture game changes. Being a mobile creative enables you to adapt to change, rather than getting rolled over by it.

By giving this emergent class a name, you're contributing to it's survival and growth. Mobile creatives could be the class that finally replaces the factory- and service-workers classes as the new "backbone" of American socio-economic life. That's what's been missing for at least 15 years. By giving the class a name you're formally declaring its existence, providing a framework for the lifestyle, and even establishing it as a legitimate goal.

Thank you, Kevin, for describing the Mobile Creative class better than I could. Who better to describe this way of living better than one who is living it every day?

In essence, my new book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy is a blueprint for becoming a Mobile Creative.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
narnia's picture

Bootstrapping entrepreneurs even exist in North Korea.  I guess you have to make up a new name to a centuries old concept to have a web address or sell some t-shirts or something.

DutchR's picture

If you read Charles Hugh-Smith post backwards it makes more sence: "In essence, my new book "Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy" is a blueprint for becoming a Mobile Creative." .......

Headbanger's picture

Nothing much new here.   I been doing just that for some 40 years now and so have a lot of other "mobile-ites"

I know professionals (like attorneys) who plow snow for some good cash and cause it works off all their tensions.

And a local sheriff who does damn good gunsmithing.

But I guess it's a good reminder to those who believe they should and must do only what they were educated to do.

So all you attorneys out there.. Buy a nice big plow rig and make some cash and meet new clients at the same time!

pods's picture

But those two examples aren't "mobile creative" they are second jobs.


Headbanger's picture

Well one of em sure is "mobile creative" when you're mobile plowing snow up into all kinds of pretty sculpted snow banks!

Hey, that's real artistic talent! 

And the sheriff will sure get mobile on your ass for owing him any for some nice gunsmithing!

midtowng's picture

"mobile creatives" aren't a class. You would think that someone who claims to know something about economics would know that.

Raymond K Hessel's picture

In essence, this article is an advert for my new book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy is a blueprint for becoming a Mobile Creative.

machineh's picture

Put this together with Charles's bright idea yesterday to 'print the money' to pay Social Security, and what've you got?

A smart phone that spits out counterfeit bills, and a fast getaway car.

Mobile Creatives -- don't change a hundred for them!

Seer's picture

But, but...  The only way out is to just find the right "label" to apply and it all will work out swimingly!

By the time people disect the "label" the originators will be off and enjoying the money made from everyone trying to purchase the definition from them.

I use no labels.  My advice: "Just Fucking Do It" (hoping that Nike doesn't sue me)

teslaberry's picture

charles hugh smith ------more full of shit. 


this kind of class breakdown rubbish could be useful for the new york times. or forbes or wall street journal. i expect them to publish something like this soon enough. 


an economy full of 'mobiles' is just code for under-employed seasonal employees. what happened in the agricultural and manufacturing sector, for hire labor classes, has now happened in the tech sector. and people are bragging about this as if it is a 'new' thing. trying redefine an old pattern with new language . 

the ideology of technophilia is just an excuse for distracting people from a dying goods and services economy, by pointing to the leading edge service sector, interenet technoloyg, and implicity claiming this one bright light is sufficient to capture and remove your attention from the bigger picture. 

on top of that, that so called 'bright' light is mostly just enterntainment and consumer based advertising streams. 


mobile creatives? really? these people will all be out of jobs after the next internet bust. contract and temp workers. this is a 'new' class? are you joking? " by giving it a new name you....blablabla"


branding a nonexistent thing does not make it so. 

pods's picture

I used to know a lot of people like this. In the 90's even.

They were called young.  They didn't have families, and very little if any possessions.  Eventually they grew up and realized that living like that was not the easiest way to have a family or put down roots.

I think that "mobile creatives" is a fancy way to describe modern gypsies.


Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

Pods, that was the first thing that comes to mind. A wandering free agent who will never have a family or anything relevant. You can do that when you are young, but it is a bitch when older.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Take it from a practitioner, not easy, but very rewording. ;-)

Some days are like tilting at windmills...


James_Cole's picture

They were called young. 

Exactly what I had thought...'mobile creatives' aka young people. 

Seer's picture

Actually, it's how Big Business has tended to push it all.  More and more "contract" work.  There are housing developments, RENTALS, catering to employees for a given company (located right along some industrial parkway).  If anything this plays right in to TPTB's hands.

udaman's picture


dip-shit losers with no skills: not even "jack-of-all-master-of-none"; just jerk-offs

uniman's picture

Perhaps "putting down roots" and "raising a family" are part of the problem? On the one hand, to the extent that I've enjoy/experienced both of these, I'll readily admit that there's a lot to be said for both. On the other hand, both of those ideas are very problematic in today's world. Just becuase they can be fun does not mean they should be goals.

There are too many people on this Earth and having more of them just digs us deeper into a hole. Establishing "roots" makes one a fixed target. A fat little lump of wealth just waiting to be harvested by our "farmers" (ruling class). As you recoil in horror in thinking "but what if _everybody_ did that?" please try to imagine how society might heal in the absence of population pressure. Also imagine how withered Leviathan might grow if its farm animals (we the people) stopped their practice of putting down roots to grow crops for it.

Also realize that "rootless" people are far more judgment proof than ordinary farm animals. If you don't have children, or real estate, or bank accounts, or tax forms, or driver's licenses, or insurance, or any of those chains, then you'll be in a much better position to push back.

Everyday I wake and I sleep well. I'm at peace and am content, most of the time. I'm actually somewhat overweight so I obviously find food. My effective tax rate is lower than most people's and I have an over all more enjoyable life. My life is nowhere near the worst that people have experienced.

For a fictional treatment of how people with nothing left to lose can organize and push back, please see The Brotherhood Report

Cathartes Aura's picture

ticks awaiting that jump/cling to fur,

springs to mind.


though nomadic tribal living is not the same meme, hm.

csmith's picture

Charles Hugh Smith - anagram for Chas Hurl Shit Ghem

Jethro's picture

I'd prefer not to put myself into any niche.  I'd rather be as much of a truly modern Reniassance man as possible, and not to define myself so narrowly that I can't adapt and overcome. 

I think that in light of our current economic trends, it'd be a good idea for people to figure out how to generate untaxable income.  Everbody in the third world does this already.  I guess we'll get our turn shortly. 

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Jethro, you just made a fact right there.

Chief Wonder Bread's picture

Karl Marx couldn't conveniently pigeonhole what he called the lumpen proletariat into his system either.

That's the first sign of bullshit. 

ptoemmes's picture

Handyman...good with actual tools like hammers, saws, wrenches, etc.  Non electric hand tools too - just in case.  Work with wood, masonary, electrical, plumbing, etc.  Build and, more importanly, fix shit.



LawsofPhysics's picture

Good thing there's no such thing as a "kill switch" for power grids or communication lines...

oh wait, nevermind.

Kreditanstalt's picture

Rubbish.  This new class is still chasing "dollars" via selling long as you're still locked into the "earn more dollars-spend more dollars-direct deposit-pay your taxes" system you'll never be anything new or different...

Ignatius's picture

Were Al Swearigen and Sy Tolliver "mobile creatives"?

One week they're building or buying a bar/whorehouse in Deadwood from stolen native lands.  Through personal contacts they may discover there's money in the opium trade or advantages to reaching out to the local Chinese community.  Then there's selling dubious gold claims or introducing the locals to easy fortunes possible from playing craps.  They both saw the advantages of just clubbing the hoople heads, robbing them, and tossing 'em in the creek (though "that would be wrong", as Sy pointed out).  And, of course, the steady money from strategically employing road agents.

I like this article.  Creativity, networking combined with entrepeneurial spunk can achieve miracles.  Don't limit yourself, ever.

Grande Tetons's picture

Worked for Mr. Woo and his pool of cheap labor. 

Cocksuckers! Woo have last laugh. 

i_call_you_my_base's picture

It's awfully convenient that this trumpeted class is written about by those in it.

In any case, try to do anything at scale under this framework. Try to build a building or a bridge or a large piece of software or anything that requires a larger pool of labor.

Zirpedge's picture

Aren't they called Gypsies? "Mobile Creatives" soundlike draft dodging hippies who get face tattoos to qualify for disability. 

waterhorse's picture

"The key characteristic of the Mobile Creative class is that they live by this credo: trust the network, not the corporation or the state."


Yes, because the network is 100% reliable... /s

uniman's picture

You hardly need 100% reliability in order to improve upon Corp or State.  You can also view "network" as the network of people that you know, trust, deal with.  This is far more reliable than Corp or State

madcows's picture

what a nonsense article.  i can't find a "real"  job, so I'll snub my nose at those full-time corporate workers and pretend that I get wonderful emotional returns from talking with cardboard house mates, instead of your house with a warm bed.


I'll call myself Mobile and Free.  I'm free to play my guitar and sing songs.  What is this?  A fucking commercial for ObAmerica?

machineh's picture

It's the freakin Who, from like 45 years ago:

I can pull up by the curb
I can make it on the road
Goin' mobile
I can stop in any street
And talk with people that we meet
Goin' mobile
Keep me movin'

Out in the woods
Or in the city
It's all the same to me
When I'm drivin' free, the world's my home
When I'm mobile

Hee, hoo!
beep beep!


Fuck yeah, that's a plan ...


Bill of Rights's picture

I highly recommend listening to Stephanie Kelton and Randy Wray’s latest podcast. They lay out in some detail the role of interest bearing government debt in shifting income towards rentiers, either of the small variety but skewed, of course, towards the wealthy.

Especially in liquidity constrained currency, such as under the gold standard, such debt would significantly shift real income towards the wealthy.

Good stuff



Seer's picture

"Especially in liquidity constrained currency, such as under the gold standard, such debt would significantly shift real income towards the wealthy."

So, unlimited free credit?

cougar_w's picture

I'm pretty much a mobile creative. Knew right away what that meant. 12-16 hour work days are fairly common for me, esp. given my age. But I have a lot of fun and it keeps me young.

Heh. Oh for example: I'm writing a dirty novel. Short format should be done in a few months, a riff on "50 Shades of Gray" except the lead is a technology worker neo-feminist becomes a total radical flag-waving sex slave.  I shit you not. It is absolutely epic! She is a great character, a lot like my character Diamond except she's a contractually bound slave "serving" her master 24/7 (oh yeah) and squeezing in a constant stream of adventures on the side. So of my 16 hour days about 4 hours right now are spent writing smutty bondage porn featuring a violent red head from Scotland who makes her own swords and axes by hand in a forge. Anytime you can devote part of your life to slutty axe-wielding Scottish red heads in heat you are winning the game, my friends. Oh hell yeah.

Tortfeasor's picture

I'd like to read that. Think you can get Karen Gillan to play the lead?

cougar_w's picture

With about twice as much red hair, and really curly, and green eyes and a glance that can freeze your mortal soul ... yeah she's there.

Edit: This! This is her! This is how I see Rose MacIntyre of Rose, Upon a Time!

Except wearing a slave collar and shouldering a war axe. Oh and she's thinking about either sucking your D until your brain melts and runs out your ears, or else breaking your arm, which she does depending on how quickly you apologize for calling her "ginger".

FredFlintstone's picture

Tell me you are a horny chick?

Lin S's picture

Delusional article. 

Tortfeasor's picture

Those that poo poo this idea are just not getting the concept, but it is real. Freelance programmers and app builders, permaculture farmers and ranchers, the Jack Spirkos of the world, these are the Mobile Creatives. They are more akin to the Charles Darwins or the Marie Curies or young Steve Jobs of the world. Joel Salatin and Diego Footer fall into this new category.
They won't all change the world, at least not individually, but collectively they are outside the caste system. Free to try new ideas and unleash them on their personal network. And those personal networks are growing all the time.
If you don't "get it", it's ok. You aren't in it. You're somewhere else in this life. But the Mobile Creatives does a pretty good job of describing those people who are truly bucking the system.

cougar_w's picture

I've got about 3 totally epic projects on the front burner all the time, and have for years. All of them completely off the books, off the chart, out of orbit! Nobody I work with knows the total me, all they get to see is the one small slice that I think is any of their business. My supervisor at the day job doesn't know I'm writing an epic heroic slutty porn novel. The theater producer doesn't know I code network software. The publisher doesn't know I build theater sets.

They have no fucking idea what I really do in total. And it suits me fine that they do not.

The guy in the next cube over says one day "I get the feeling I don't even know half of the cool things you do" and I say "and you never will."

Moving. All. The. Time.

Seer's picture

"They have no fucking idea what I really do in total. And it suits me fine that they do not."

I do all sorts of things, so much so that I often confuse myself!  It's an issue of constant change: excuse I use to cover up my ADD.

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Steve Jobs viewed his employees as indentured serfs.  :)


Can we stop giving hero worship to a dick who thought his employees were his property? Like right fucking now.

cougar_w's picture

He was kinda brilliant tho. But yeah still, what you said.

Seer's picture

"Can we stop giving hero worship"

Simplified it for ya!

(I'm just so sick of all the hero-worship; every fucking thing seems to come with some hero attached.)

cougar_w's picture

You are now my hero!

[waiting for head to explode]

Totentänzerlied's picture

The extended quotation reads like some kind of vox-pop interview by the Russian Pravda of yore. Just replace "mobile creative lifestyle" with "Soviet Marxist-Leninist communist revolutionary proletarian class consciousness". Sounds like a new name for contract information/knowledge "professionals" who get tossed around from one corporation to the next.

"The Mobile Creative class operates outside these two states of dependency."

So they don't pay taxes, file income taxes, take out loans, have lines of credit or credit cards, buy healthcare plans, invest in retirement funds, take out mortgages, or go to college, or buy useless plastic crap they don't need? 

This "emerging" class is just the newest attempt by a bunch of ridiculously deluded and incredibly overprivileged Westerners to avoid reality. They're skimming the top off the so-called knowledge economy, the latest and least tangible stage of the service economy. That's all.

Sounds like a PR campaign to generate interest in the likes of Simon Black (and CHS, of course) and that whole milieu of mostly white almost entirely male college-educated western pseudo-economic-news/doom-porn buy-my-newsletter-and-ebook bloggers that have absolutely flourished in the past decade.

cougar_w's picture

Yeah we be liv'n da life, homie. re'conize!