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Arbeit macht frei

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  • Arbeit macht frei

    Some time ago Theocrat started a thread about lean production techniques and how they affected his life at work. I posted a follow-up on this in McTalbayne's hate my job thread, where I mentioned a study by two canadian social psychologists that concludes to stress, work overload, harassment and intimidation increasing the worker's productivity...
    This adresses a number of issues, such as the prevailing role of productivity in capitalist societies, the reality of this so-called productivity (e.g. useless products/services, loads of money in marketing and advertising, uniformisation of products/services, social waste etc.), the role of social science in the instrumentalisation of the individual....what do I know...

    The first point I'd like to adress is IMO the very core of the subject: Work as a structurating value. The idea that people should seek (and may find) the fulfilment of their potential as human beings in work.
    There are historical precedents, but it's presently a fashionable debate in my country (France). Several books were edited of late which recommend not being too much involved in your work, cheating your boss and procrastinatig as a recipe for happiness.
    The arguments are many, sociological, psychological and political.
    To begin with, I'd like to submit this text for you to comment....Many probably know it already...but I'd like to have your reactions. The text is humorous but makes some interesting points IMO. Besides it's become somewhat symbolic...so here it goes:
    http://www.diegluecklichenarbeitslos...te/english.htm

  • #2
    I'll have to read it all first but Bertrand Russell's "In Praise of Idleness" comes to mind and I suppose Corinne Maier was part of the movement with "Bonjour Paresse".

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    • #3
      Re: Arbeit macht frei

      Originally posted by mordenkainen
      I'd like to have your reactions. The text is humorous but makes some interesting points IMO. Besides it's become somewhat symbolic...
      I agree on some of the issue's brought forth by the "Manifesto".
      It's quite humorous as well. :)

      I think it would be great for the unemployed to start experimenting on other ways.. But one subject it doesn't touch on is 'greed'. Is greed only a craving for more lazyness? Or is it an engine that drives the ego?

      In the early 20th century mindset. A man's place in society was defined by what your occupation was. A man's housewife got the title of her husbands work in a feminized version "carpentress" et al.
      To gain notice in a society governed by males.
      When that title/status was gone due to "unemployment".
      Life lost it's meaning. Which was kinda weird...

      I agree that the correct name is not "unemployed", but "moneyless".
      And this i myself have been through:

      "such as making them attend pointless appointments and so-called training, retraining and continuing education programmes which spring up from nowhere and lead nowhere, and by making them pursue sham occupations for sham wages - just in order to artificially bring down the statistics i.e. just to sustain an economic illusion."

      I've been through this procedure many times myself!
      And thats what it is really.. An illusion! And the young people i see get stuck on jobs that pay bad for hard work, or get institutionalised in schools (taking student loans till the student financial-system breaks down). If governments want people to work, they need firmer action against companies and corporations upholding this "illusion". The people need jobs and a life to live. Why not raise taxes for companies when there are more able bodied unemployed in society? Would make job-cutting and kaizening harder perhaps..

      Originally posted by mordenkainen
      Frequently, what we are doing is simply derivative of what people have already done.
      I can identify with that, sometimes.
      Makes me think of what Karl Glogauer said in BTM during a drunken stint. "Every mans life, diminishes me."

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Arbeit macht frei

        Originally posted by Theocrat
        "making them attend pointless appointments and so-called training, retraining and continuing education programmes which spring up from nowhere and lead nowhere, and by making them pursue sham occupations for sham wages - just in order to artificially bring down the statistics i.e. just to sustain an economic illusion."
        The purpose behind this is to keep the unemployed in contact with the labour market, thereby maintaining what Marx described as "the reserve army of labour", exerting a downward pressure on wages for those in work. Hence the emphasis on 'employability'; every good capitalist knows that the system could not function without unemployment - but those people must at least be capable of being considered by employers.

        The 'Happy Unemployed' subvert all this. It is notable that the two public enemies no.1 during the Thatcher era were a) the miners, b) the 'happy unemployed' of what was described by the press as the "so-called (sic) Peace Convoy", trashed in the 'battle of the bean field' near Stonehenge with the same degree of police brutality as witnessed at Orgreave.

        I was less valiantly out of work during the same period (more of a straightforward 'slacker' in my Bournemouth bedsit than a 'new-age traveller' - but I did feel this was justified in an era of deliberate mass unemployment - it was better for me to be on the dole enjoying it rather than someone who really wanted a job. I know this was simplistic, as was the common notion that by choosing to live off the State we were somehow "smashing the system".

        On the level of personal satisfaction I eventually discovered that being on the dole can be as much a rut as 'the old 9 to 5' and I would say that to an extent I was engaging in self-rationalisation for my own lack of confidence / failure to identify what I wanted to go for in life. But it was fun while it lasted. Many of us are now paying for it now in terms of reduced earning potential and failure to get on the housing ladder, etc.

        I imagine that being happily unemployed nowadays would take a great deal more personal effort and use of the strategems brilliantly demonstrated in 'Trainspotting'. Hats off to them - their conscientious objection to joining the 'reserve army' certainly helps us in work!

        The Lafargue article "The Right to be Lazy" is here, by the way: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafa...lazy/index.htm Ironic, really, that Marxists have proved in practice to be great adherents to the work ethic, with Lenin adopting Taylorism and Trotsky advocating "the militarisation of labour" under conditions of "war communism", whereby absentees would be shot for desertion! The oriental-style work teams of 'flexible production' always seem very Maoist to me. So perhaps, ironically, capitalism offers the best conditions for the 'happy unemployed'! :o
        \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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        • #5
          one subject it doesn't touch on is 'greed'. Is greed only a craving for more lazyness? Or is it an engine that drives the ego?
          I guess at some point money stops being "comfort" and becomes "power". I think the happy unemployed's answer to that is "This will not make you happy. Go for it if you think otherwise, but I won't let you screw me in the process".
          There have been many ways of Being an Important Motherfucker in human history. There sure would be some in a Happy Unemployed world, too.

          If governments want people to work, they need firmer action against companies and corporations upholding this "illusion".
          Of course governments are the ones upholding it, much more than corporations...



          I was less valiantly out of work during the same period (more of a straightforward 'slacker' in my Bournemouth bedsit than a 'new-age traveller' - but I did feel this was justified in an era of deliberate mass unemployment - it was better for me to be on the dole enjoying it rather than someone who really wanted a job. I know this was simplistic, as was the common notion that by choosing to live off the State we were somehow "smashing the system".

          On the level of personal satisfaction I eventually discovered that being on the dole can be as much a rut as 'the old 9 to 5' and I would say that to an extent I was engaging in self-rationalisation for my own lack of confidence / failure to identify what I wanted to go for in life. But it was fun while it lasted. Many of us are now paying for it now in terms of reduced earning potential and failure to get on the housing ladder, etc.

          I imagine that being happily unemployed nowadays would take a great deal more personal effort and use of the strategems brilliantly demonstrated in 'Trainspotting'. Hats off to them - their conscientious objection to joining the 'reserve army' certainly helps us in work!
          Lots of people are now working out practical ways to live out of the employment market. These here are the best I know (in english): http://www.whywork.org/

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