Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Guardian: "It's the 21st century – why are we working so much?"

"The right calls for hard work, the left for more jobs. The dream of mechanisation leading to shorter working hours seems forgotten" 

Link to The Guardian

"... In almost all cases, utopians, socialists and other futurologists believed that work would come near to being abolished for one reason above all – we could let the machines do it. The socialist thinker Paul Lafargue wrote in his pointedly titled tract 'The Right To Be Lazy' (1883):
"Our machines, with breath of fire, with limbs of unwearying steel, with fruitfulness wonderful inexhaustible, accomplish by themselves with docility their sacred labour. And nevertheless the genius of the great philosophers of capitalism remains dominated by the prejudices of the wage system, worst of slaveries. They do not yet understand that the machine is the saviour of humanity, the god who shall redeem man from working for hire, the god who shall give him leisure and liberty."
"Oscar Wilde evidently agreed – in his 1891 essay 'The Soul of Man Under Socialism', he scorns the 'nonsense that is written and talked today about the dignity of manual labour', and insists that 'man is made for something better than distributing dirt. All work of that kind should be done by a machine'. He makes quite clear what he means:
"Machinery must work for us in coal mines, and do all sanitary services, and be the stoker of steamers, and clean the streets, and run messages on wet days, and do anything that is tedious or distressing".

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