w.o.r.k.n.o.

April 19, 2009 at 8:28 pm (Uncategorized)

Is it true, as some wag put it,  that work is the curse of the drinking classes? Ask anyone which night is the best of the week, and the answer is always Friday. The worst? Sunday? It’s a combination of trying to forget last week, trying not to think about next week, and dealing with the realization that the weekend is done, and it’s another five days until the next.

It seems appropriate then, that I write this post on a Sunday when I don’t have to work until Tuesday.

What’s wrong with work?

How many times do we sit around the house moaning, I’m bored. there’s nothing to do. And yet, when we work, we constantly complain about not having free time.  Is it the abolition of work we seek, or the abolition of wage labour?

Think about this example.

I spent my Saturday afternoon weeding and working in the back garden. At the end of the afternoon, my back is aching, my fingers are sore, I’m dirty and I’m tired. But I’m happy. I look out over the work  I’ve done and I’m satisfied.

My neighbour looks over the fence, commends me on a good job, and offers me $50 to do the same in her garden next weekend. I accept.

At the end of the afternoon, my back is aching, my fingers are sore, I’m dirty and I’m tired. But I’m happy. I look out over the work I’ve done and I’m dissatisfied.

Why? Well, as we used to say in the old days of the critique of political economy, alienation. 

 When I work for myself in my garden. I can control what I make, but more importantly, there’s no exchange. No commodity production. When I do the same task for my neighbour, it’s entirely different. I don’t get to keep what I’ve made, I only receive payment for my time.  My time is commodified, and mt neighbour is now at employer.

The relationship changes everything. Remember, that joe-job you had in the summer, and how your buddy changed from being a goof-off to a jerk when he was made supervisor. Same thing.  

In the mid 1990s, there was a real interest in anti-work movements. The Situationist critique of work, was named dropped (along with people like Bob Black). Kamunist Kranti, an Indian left communist group, published a much talked about Ballad Against work, which appropriately I read while at work. 

We are a creative species. We want to create. We want to be active, and yet we really don’t want to work. Why: Twenty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift. The poets know. The artists know.  We know.

If work were really such a good thing, the wealthy would keep it for themselves. Be careful.

——————————————-

My wife forwarded this to me.

The Center for Disease Control has issued a medical alert about a highly contagious, potentially dangerous virus that is transmitted orally, by hand, and even electronically. This virus is called Weekly Overload Recreational Killer (WORK). If you receive WORK from your boss, any of your colleagues or anyone else via any means whatsoever – DO NOT TOUCH IT!!! This virus will wipe out your private life entirely. If you should come into contact with WORK, you should immediately leave the premises. Take two good friends to the nearest LCBO and purchase one or both of the antidotes – Work Isolating Neutralizer Extract (WINE) and Bothersome Employer Elimination Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system. You should immediately forward this medical alert to five friends. If you do not have five friends, you have already been infected and WORK is controlling your life.

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