“In years gone”, Heartfield noted in 1998. the realm of production was a highly contested one. We’re Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary. As the German philosopher Bini Adamczak describes this new “consumptionist” critique: When the postwar capitalist regime of renewed accumulation went into crisis,       so did the Protestant, Prussian-style social frugality that defined it. Sign up to receive emails with all the best deals, new articles, and MUCH MORE! A similar duplicity can be found in contemporary right-workerist discourse. If we reject the false-consciousness view of work then we have to think seriously about what human need work arises in response to. Since previous forms of welfare always imply telling the poor what to consume and what to produce, post-workerists prefer to shed such prescriptive thinking altogether. And the criterion of “engagement,” much like that of “satisfaction,” is a slippery one: seeking “engagement” in work is not the same as slaving away for a boss without due compensation. Finally, the statistical argument also begs the question as to why precisely people are so enamored of the prospect of more “free time.” As early as 1840, the American labor republican Orestes Brownson remarked that the opposition between toilsome “work” and enjoyable “play” set up by modern society presented nothing less than an unacceptable act of blackmail.

Work was to remain central, the laborites claimed, and the Council was playing a dangerous game. But even this rapprochement hardly qualifies as a desire to “abolish work,” Rather, it represents an attempt to ensure that the potentially pleasurable aspects of work are not hollowed out by their inscription into relations of exploitation – that “abstract” labor might come to completely eviscerate “concrete” labor, so to speak.

Neither should it revive an easy producerism which opposes “productive” industry to “unproductive” finance (while obscuring their intrinsic interdependence), or fall into Lasch’s naturalist trap, which asserts that labor has always been among “humanity’s deepest drives.”. As noted by the Italian writer Primo Levi (himself a Holocaust survivor), the real meaning of the slogan “work makes free’ had always remained “somewhat less clear to him.” As he noted in 1962: In reality, and despite appearances to the contrary, denial of and contempt for      the moral value of work is fundamental to the Fascist myth in all its forms. As Robert Ley, leader of Hitler’s German Labor Front, put it in 1935, “Work is not harmful as long as the spirit of the people’s community (Volksgemeinschaft) pulses through it.”. Soviet panegyrists of “work,” like Lenin and Trotsky – who proposed nothing less than the “full militarization of labor” and a frantic acceleration of the work ethic – hardly qualify as post-work either. Goldner also insists that facile equations between “working class” and “proletariat” simply won’t do here.

The imaginary of the counter-culture, Lasch claimed, pictured “utopia as generalized leisure, thereby reaffirming, instead of contradicting, the vision of industrial society itself.” Utopia, in such an optic, was merely portrayed as “democratized laziness,” while Lasch insisted that “centuries of experience have taught us… that work is one of man’s deepest drives.” And since leisure was a dialectical counterpart of modern employed work under capitalism, it also was utterly conditioned by it – as was already visible in capitalism’s invasion of leisure through the holiday industry.
Detail from The Weeders (1868) by Jules Breton French; oil on canvas. The turn toward reproduction, as Adamczak notes, was undoubtedly “the historical effect of defeat within the factory.” Yet defeat rarely inspires good thinking – and it tends to lead to conceptual muddiness. Without claiming to resolve the entire automation debate here, one thing ought to be clear: the “working class” has not disappeared. Many on today’s Left seek to abolish work. As noted by Harry Pitts and Paul Thompson, the statistics put out by the agency hardly allow for the conclusion that the majority of respondents thought “their job was senseless.” The same poll, for instance, found that 63% of participants found their job “very or fairly personally fulfilling”, while 33% “did not think so.” Additionally, figures from the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey show that job satisfaction increased between 2004 and 2011, and that no less 72 percent “were satisfied or very satisfied with work itself” (about three-thirds spoke of a “sense of achievement” when discussing their work). Protein Bars Creatine Post-workerists might well reply that such an attachment to the “work ethic” is simply an instance of false consciousness, and claim that we need nothing less than a “cultural revolution” to rid ourselves of it.

As the Pentecost of the global workers’ movement, the date is the only bank holiday without pagan or Christian precedents, standing out as the […].


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