13-12-08

The Right To Be Lazy

"Proletarians, brutalized by the dogma of work, listen to the voice of these philosophers, which has been concealed from you with jealous care: A citizen who gives his labor for money degrades himself to the rank of slaves, he commits a crime which deserves years of imprisonment." Paul Lafargue, The Right To Be Lazy, 1883.

(Translation as per http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/index....)


There you have it: you think you have an original idea just to find out it's antedated with a mere 150 years; by a rather obscure pamphlet-writer of rather more than less blackandwhitery, no less. The vice of modesty may still have its virtuous moment ;-)

He is right of course, for the same reasons as I am right: neither you nor I whatever our origin & whatever our talents, are really anything more than the instrument of an upper class when we sell ourselves to further the goal of another. & we are even less than that when the sale is made to further the goal of an anonymous organization - never mind whether of the so called beneficial kind. The idea of the 'duty to work' is however proving to be imune to all reasoning. There are always new people grouped in new groups that gain so much from it that they discover fresh ways to convince all of the rest of us that the 'right to work' is the last blessed thing surviving the deaths of all Gods. For a long time now in the West we take comfort in the fact that we can't be slaves because a. the people we work for can't starve us to death when we refuse to a complete surrender & b. we are increasingly working with our brains.

The first assumption is wrong because every instance we claim more freedom we get naught more than a pittance of it; to find not much later that 'the economic crisis' is on its way threatening this beautiful right to work. The voices of the reasonable soon after emerge to convince us of the fact that we should not press such rights but give up large portions of our little bit of freedom if we don't want the right to become just a far-fetched ideal. No physical whips but constant economic terror: if there is such a thing as a mastermind in this system, it surely knows that the threat of some loss is sufficient to whip us into 'correct' behaviour.

Never will a right be more like a duty as in the case of the right to work. And whilst it is a fact that we tend to sell our brains rather than our bodies as time goes on, what is better: to be encarcelated or to be brainwashed? But this quoting fool is sounding more and more like he's rambling as much, if not more, than that quoted fool - Let me move on to ...

He is wrong of course because like all of them drawing in black-and-white only, he is wanting to make us into something that is changed according to what he believes to be what we ought to be. Idiotically presupposing that we can make abstraction from what presently is our reality to make it easier on him to run, on our behalf, after the abstraction he favoured. An abstraction that suited his instincts, his wealth as well as his specific social network. Such is the way of idealists. They're optimists, but only at our expense and when they despair they do so based on what they see us lacking in what they deem to be important to us.

So maybe I'm still original in believing you can be right in these matters without at a same time being wrong. We needn't prescribe work nor prescribe non-work - just like we mustn't prescribe non-consumption nor decry consumption. The "right to be lazy" should not in its turn become a new duty of a new church condemning the non-lazy. There is time, we work less than in Lafargue's time. More importantly: there is time, more & more of us find employment in things that can't rightly be called 'work' even if those so employing themselves persist in the convention of calling it 'work'. This is possible only because the free markets allow to exchange entertainment and ideas, trading talent for talent. The machines were welcome and they were necessary - but, contra Lafargue, they are not sufficient. To liberate us from work we need a market, a place where we can come with the result of our creative, talented laziness and get the benefit of some other talented, creative laziness. Only this free exchange will be sufficient to liberate us from the necessity to work.

The problem then is this from where we stand today: how do we divorce free market from capitalism when they seem so inextricably linked for ages? The one good & the other bad, their separation is essential to set human beings free to do whatever the hell they feel like - even work, since no God or Organization can still forbid it. Free - free to compete in what they themselves believe to be their strength & pleasure.

A question at the end. Be it as it may. I have no answer yet. But not to worry: there is time and better the irreversible evolution to a free market with less compulsion to work than a revolution imposing what is to be traded with an essential compulsion to work, however small it may be.


Whilst writing this I was listening to Evard Grieg, Lyric Pieces as was perfomed by Mikhail Plethnev (with the insurmountable "March of the Trolls").

 

19:29 Gepost door Guido Nius in Vrije tijd | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: lafargue, optimism, decadence, competition, form-content |  Facebook |

16-11-08

Break of Day

'Tis true, 'tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise, because 'tis light?
Did we lie down, because 'twas night?
Love which in spite of darkness brought us hither,
Should in despite of light keep us together.

(..)

Must business thee from hence remove?
Oh, that's the worst disease of love,
The poor, the foul, the false, love can
Admit, but not the busied man.
He which hath business, and makes love, doth do
Such wrong, as when a married man doth woo.

John Donne, The major Works, Oxford World's Classics, Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 102.


Nothing like an early 17th century poem delivering an early 21st century truth. It is a testament to the ease with which words can travel - that's however not what I wanted to think about here. 'Busy, busy, busy,' - the more time we reclaim from nature, the less time we feel to have. Formulated in this way, it's a boring old commonplace but that's just because we don't take time to lie still at the break of day. If we would, we would question the busy-ness of business. Why do we reclaim time from nature, just to wind up spending all of it to change nature in ways that satisfy this self-defeating circular obsession to be able to spend ever more time changing nature?

The answer is simple: we're in need of some serious brainwashing! When we were all brutes & beasts we needed an unsatisfiable drive to bend nature in ways which would allow us to cease beasts & brutes. Such got some elites into a situation of humanoid behaviour, referred to pejoratively - from our current imperfect state - as decadence. This situation was not evolutionarily stable - through ups and downs the elite started to grow until, at least in some geographies, it became a vast majority. This growth is still ongoing; cultural pessimists need to realize that society 'deteriorates amazingly well' nowadays.

The role of cultural pessimists is a crucial one: they keep the evolutionary dynamics as per the above intact. They avoid us getting a thoroughly enjoyable brainwashing, keeping our hands & minds continuously dirty, by pointing out 2 things. The elite is, & will always be, a happy few so the struggle to get there or keep your offspring in it is a continuous sruggle. Let's call this first point the 'original sin argument', or, when you are less religiously inclined 'The Carrot'. On top of this they highlight that, being in the elite, too much is worse than not enough. Scare stories about 'decadence' are put in place taking coincidental moralizing standards & showing how a decadent elite not only will violate them but will infect the 'lesser' classes thereby blocking progress for all. Let's call this the 'armageddon argument', or the 'fall of the Roman Empire'-argument or, more simply, 'The Stick'.

This way the business that was the means to an end becomes the end in itself - and all of us hurry at the break of day away, away from our true love: spending time with ourselves and others disregarding nature, nurturing the words with which we speak to each other and using our movements for furthering our human pleasure. Yes, that's decadent! Once our brains are washed in a shower of nice words, and dried in a light of love, we will understand (and feel!) that decadence is what we need to create what others crave. We will never be busy again, & our business will be instrumental again, instrumental to get a maximum amount of people to become part of an elite that is bestial only insofar as it behooves them (in bed, in sports but not in business). This is not a plea against business - once our brains are washed clean from the desire to over-achieve, we will continue to consume (in fact we will only consume) because we know we are not responsible for keeping things on track.

In fine: we will know we are not responsible. Responsibility is a bestial notion. It is a notion that is completely superfluous in the context of real love - not lovy-dovy love, not romantic love of feeling responsible but simply love of being human & acting as humans with no interest except human interests. Neither the carrot, nor the stick will impress us. Insofar as the elite is by definition a minority, we will no longer feel this compulsion to be part of it or have what they have. Inasmuch decadence consists in violating the non-coincidental moral claims of what makes humans human all will be cognizant of the fact that such is not the way of real decadence - because decadent love is love of what makes humans human.

I am very pessimistic about cultural pessimism :-)


Whilst writing this I was listening to 'Shostakovich: The Jazz Album' but I advise you not to because it is a hoax, my friends.

13:32 Gepost door Guido Nius in Liefde | Permalink | Commentaren (0) | Tags: friendship, optimism, decadence, dynamics, donne |  Facebook |

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