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theinfinityes - Workers of the world... Relax!

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An abridged reading of: The Abolition of Work by Bob Black Video and voiceover by Aaron Moritz No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost all the evil we'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working. But that doesn't mean we stop doing things. It means creating a new way of life based on play. A ludic revolution. A collective adventure in generalized joy and freely interdependent exuberance. Now, play isn't passive. Doubtless we all need more time for sheer sloth and slack than we'd ever enjoy now, regardless of income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion, nearly all of us will want to act. The ludic life is totally incompatible with existing reality, the gravity hole that sucks the vitality from the little in life that still distinguishes it from mere survival. All the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work. Some, like Marxism and most brands of Anarchism, believe in work all the more fiercely because they believe in so little else. Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. I support the right to be lazy. Trotskyists agitate for permanent revolution. I agitate for permanent revelry. But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate work, they are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages, hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity and profitability. They'll gladly talk about anything but work itself. Unions and management agree that we ought to sell the time of our lives in exchange for our survival, although they haggle over the price. The alternative to work isn't just idleness. To be ludic is not to be quaaludic. As much as I treasure the pleasure of torpor, it's never more rewarding than when it punctuates other pleasures and pastimes. Nor am I promoting the managed time-disciplined safety-valve called "leisure"; far from it. Leisure is non-work for the sake of work. Leisure is the time spent recovering from work, and in the frenzied but hopeless attempt to forget about work many people return from vacations so beat that they look forward to returning to work just so they can rest up. The main difference between work and leisure is that at work at least you get paid for your alienation and enervation. But today people don't just work, they have "jobs". One person does one productive task all the time on an or-else basis. Even if the task has a quantum of intrinsic interest, as increasingly many jobs don't, the monotony of its obligatory exclusivity drains its ludic potential. A "job" that might engage the energies of some people for a reasonably limited time, for the fun of it, is just a burden on those who have to do it for forty hours a week with no say in how it should be done, for the profit of owners who contribute nothing to the project. The degradation which most workers experience on the job is the sum of assorted indignities called discipline. Discipline consists of the totality of totalitarian controls at the workplace : surveillance, rotework, imposed work tempos, production quotas, punching in and out, etc. Discipline is what the factory and the office and the store share with the prison and the school and the mental hospital. Such is "work". Play is just the opposite. Play is always voluntary. What might otherwise be play is work if it's forced. This is axiomatic. To play involves an aristocratic disdain for results. The player gets something out of playing. That's why they play. The core reward is the experience of the activity itself, whatever it is. Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren't free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or-else, no matter how arbitrary, the authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Informers report regularly to the authorities and dissent and disobedience are punished. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing. And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern workplace. The liberals and conservatives and libertarians who lament totalitarianism are phonies and hypocrites. You find the same sort of hierarchy and discipline in an office or factory as you do in a prison or monastery. In fact, prisons and factories came in at about the same time, and their operators, consciously borrowed from each other's control techniques. After all, a worker is a part-time slave. The boss says when to show up, when to leave and what to do in the meantime. He tells you how much work to do and how fast. He is free to carry his control to humiliating extremes, regulating, if he feels like it, the clothes you wear or how often you go to the bathroom. With a few exceptions he can fire you for any reason, or no reason. He has you spied on by snitches and supervisors and talking back is called insubordination, just as if the worker was a naughty child. For certain purposes it's not too misleading to call our system democracy or capitalism or - better still - industrialism, but its real names are factory fascism and office oligarchy. Anyone who says these people are "free" is lying or stupid. You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances are you'll end up boring, stupid and monotonous. What I've said so far ought not to be controversial. Many workers are fed up with work and there may be some movement towards a conscious and not just visceral rejection of work. And yet the prevalent feeling, universal among bosses and their agents and also widespread among workers themselves, is that work is inevitable and necessary. I disagree. At present, most work is useless or worse and we should simply get rid of it. Entire industries, insurance and banking and real estate for instance, consist of nothing but useless paper-shuffling. Right off the bat, we can liberate tens of milions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stock brockers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad men and everyone who works for them. On the other hand, and I think this is the crux of the matter and the revolutionary new departure, we have to take what useful work remains and transform it into a pleasing variety of game-like and craft-like pastimes, indistinguishable from other pleasurable pastimes except that they happen to yield useful end-products. Then, all the artificial barriers of power and property could come down and creation could become recreation. Now, I don't suggest most work is salvageable in this way, but then, most work isn't worth trying to save, as it simply serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. It is no accident that the tertiary sector, the service sector, is growing while the secondary sector, industry, stagnates and the primary sector, agriculture, nearly disappears. Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order. Anything is better than nothing. That's why you can't go home just because you finish early. They want your time, enough of it to make you theirs, even if they have no use for most of it. I haven't as yet even mentioned the possibility of cutting way down on the little work that remains by automating and cybernizing it. All the scientists and engineers and technicians, freed from bothering with war research and planned obsolescence, should have a good time devising means to eliminate fatigue and tedium and danger from activities like mining. No one can say what would result from unleashing the creative power stultified by work. Anything can happen. The tiresome debater's problem of freedom vs. necessity resolves itself practically once the production of use-values is co-extensive to the consumption of delightful play activity. Life will become a game, or rather many games, but not, as it is now, a zero-sum game. An optimal sexual encounter is the paradigm of productive play. The participants potentiate each other's pleasures, nobody keeps score, and everybody wins. The more you give, the more you get. Generalized play leads to the libidinization of life. If we play our cards right, we can all get more out of life than we put into it, but only if we play for keeps. No one should ever work. Workers of the world. . . relax! The End Please consider supporting this and future projects: Check out Aaron's new podcast 'PonderTalkRadio' at:

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 5 seconds
Country: Canada
Language: English
Producer: theinfinityes
Director: theinfinityes
Views: 254
Posted by: tzmgermany on Dec 24, 2012

A philosophical treatise against the practice of forced labor for income. An abridged reading of 'The Abolition of Work' by Bob Black. Please take the time to read the full, unedited essay available here:

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