right to be lazy
(1883) by paul lafargue [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lafargue]
he was Karl Marx’s son-in-law having married his second daughter, Laura. His best known work is The Right to Be Lazy. Born in Cuba to French and Saint Dominican Creole parents, Lafargue spent most of his life in France, with periods in England and Spain. At the age of 69, he and 66-year-old Laura died together by a suicide pact.
via anarchist library [https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/paul-lafargue-the-right-to-be-lazy] .. and this tweet from nika:
This text, unfortunately, is behind a paywall. Maybe someone can share access:
were not “essential”, did that mean they were “bullshit jobs”, to borrow the popular book title of the left-wing anthropologist David Graeber?
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/nikadubrovsky/status/1591566876785647616
laziness et al
notes/quotes from essay:
Chapter I. A Disastrous Dogma
Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, except in being lazy. — Lessing
A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds its sway. This delusion drags in its train the individual and social woes which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work, pushed even to the exhaustion of the vital force of the individual and his progeny. Instead of opposing this mental aberration, the priests, the economists and the moralists have cast a sacred halo over work
In capitalist society work is the cause of all intellectual degeneracy, of all organic deformity
Jesus, in his sermon on the Mount, preached idleness: “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
And meanwhile the proletariat, the great class embracing all the producers of civilized nations, the class which in freeing itself will free humanity from servile toil and will make of the human animal a free being, — the proletariat, betraying its instincts, despising its historic mission, has let itself be perverted by the dogma of work. Rude and terrible has been its punishment. All its individual and social woes are born of its passion for work.
Chapter II. Blessings of Work
Thus, nearly a century before Guizot, work was openly preached in London as a curb to the noble passions of man. “The more my people work, the less vices they will have”, wrote Napoleon on May 5th, 1807, from Osterod. “I am the authority … and I should be disposed to order that on Sunday after the hour of service be past, the shops be opened and the laborers return to their work.” To root out laziness and curb the sentiments of pride and independence which arise from it, the author of the Essay on Trade proposed to imprison the poor in ideal “work-houses”, which should become “houses of terror, where they should work fourteen hours a day in such fashion that when meal time was deducted there should remain twelve hours of work full and complete”
Twelve hours of work a day, that is the ideal of the philanthropists and moralists of the eighteenth century. How have we outdone this nec plus ultra! Modern factories have become ideal houses of correction in which the toiling masses are imprisoned, in which they are condemned to compulsory work for twelve or fourteen hours, not the men only but also women and children.. They proclaim as a revolutionary principle the Right to Work.
Today we have factory girls and women, pale drooping flowers, with impoverished blood, with disordered stomachs, with languid limbs … They have never known the pleasure of a healthful passion, nor would they be capable of telling of it merrily! And the children?
What a miserable abortion of the revolutionary principles of the bourgeoisie! What woeful gifts from its god Progress! The philanthropists hail as benefactors of humanity those who having done nothing to become rich, give work to the poor. Far better were it to scatter pestilence and to poison the springs than to erect a capitalist factory in the midst of a rural population. Introduce factory work, and farewell joy, health and liberty; farewell to all that makes life beautiful and worth living
And the economists go on repeating to the laborers, “Work, to increase social wealth”, and nevertheless an economist, Destutt de Tracy, answers: “It is in poor nations that people are comfortable, in rich nations they are ordinarily poor”;
Because, lending ear to the fallacious words of the economists, the proletarians have given themselves up body and soul to the vice of work; they precipitate the whole of society into these industrial crises of over-production which convulse the social organism. Then because there is a plethora of merchandise and a dearth of purchasers, the shops are closed and hunger scourges the working people with its whip of a thousand lashes. The proletarians, brutalized by the dogma of work, not understanding that the over-work which they have inflicted upon themselves during the time of pretended prosperity is the cause of their present misery, do not run to the granaries of wheat and cry: “We are hungry, we wish to eat.
Instead of taking advantage of periods of crisis, for a general distribution of their products and a universal holiday, the laborers, perishing with hunger, go and beat their heads against the doors of the workshops. With pale faces, emaciated bodies, pitiful speeches they assail the manufacturers: “Good M. Chagot, sweet M. Schneider, give us work, it is not hunger, but the passion for work which torments us”. And these wretches, who have scarcely the strength to stand upright, sell twelve and fourteen hours of work twice as cheap as when they had bread on the table. And the philanthropists of industry profit by their lockouts to manufacture at lower cost.
These individual and social miseries, however great and innumerable they may be, however eternal they appear, will vanish like hyenas and jackals at the approach of the lion, when the proletariat shall say “I will”. But to arrive at the realization of its strength the proletariat must trample under foot the prejudices of Christian ethics, economic ethics and free-thought ethics. It must return to its natural instincts, it must proclaim the Rights of Laziness, a thousand times more noble and more sacred than the anaemic Rights of Man concocted by the metaphysical lawyers of the bourgeois revolution. It must accustom itself to working but three hours a day, reserving the rest of the day and night for leisure and feasting.
Thus far my task has been easy; I have had but to describe real evils well known, alas, by all of us; but to convince the proletariat that the ethics inoculated into it is wicked, that the unbridled work to which it has given itself up for the last hundred years is the most terrible scourge that has ever struck humanity, that work will become a mere condiment to the pleasures of idleness, a beneficial exercise to the human organism, a passion useful to the social organism only when wisely regulated and limited to a maximum of three hours a day; this is an arduous task beyond my strength. Only communist physiologists, hygienists and economists could undertake it. In the following pages I shall merely try to show that given the modern means of production and their unlimited reproductive power it is necessary to curb the extravagant passion of the laborers for work and to oblige them to consume the goods which they produce.
Chapter III. The Consequences of Over-Production
Alas! The leisure, which the pagan poet announced, has not come. The blind, perverse and murderous passion for work transforms the liberating machine into an instrument for the enslavement of free men. Its productiveness impoverishes them.
In proportion as the machine is improved and performs man’s work with an ever increasing rapidity and exactness, the laborer, instead of prolonging his former rest times, redoubles his ardor, as if he wished to rival the machine. O, absurd and murderous competition!
brutalized by the dogma of work, produce like madmen, without wishing to consume them and without even thinking whether people will be found to consume them.
Chapter IV. New Songs to New Music
If, uprooting from its heart the vice which dominates it and degrades its nature, the working class were to arise in its terrible strength, not to demand the Rights of Man, which are but the rights of capitalist exploitation, not to demand the Right to Work which is but the right to misery, but to forge a brazen law forbidding any man to work more than three hours a day, the earth, the old earth, trembling with joy would feel a new universe leaping within her.
Like Christ, the doleful personification of ancient slavery, the men, the women and the children of the proletariat have been climbing painfully for a century up the hard Calvary of pain; for a century compulsory toil has broken their bones, bruised their flesh, tortured their nerves; for a century hunger has torn their entrails and their brains. O Laziness, have pity on our long misery! O Laziness, mother of the arts and noble virtues, be thou the balm of human anguish!
we must regard as something base and vile the trade of those who sell their toil and industry, for whoever gives his labor for money sells himself and puts himself in the tank of slaves.”
But do not the moralists and economists of capitalism praise wage labor, the modern slavery; and to what men does the capitalist slavery give leisure?
Our machines, with breath of fire, with limbs of unwearying steel, with fruitfulness, wonderful inexhaustible, accomplish by themselves with docility their sacred labor. And nevertheless the genius of the great philosophers of capitalism remains dominated by the prejudice 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 the sordidae artes and from working for hire, the god who shall give him leisure and liberty.
from laziness page:
from kevin‘s communal property (2011): https://c4ss.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Communal-Property.pdf
A central theme running through all Enclosure advocacy in the eighteenth century was that “commoners were lazy.” And their very obsession with this “problem” is itself an indication of the economic significance of the commons.
They used laziness as a term of moral disapproval. But what they meant was that commoners were not always available for farmers to employ. We might ask why were they unavailable?…. In fact… every commoner was lazy, whether wages were high or not. This suggests that they refused to work because they could live without wages, or regular wages.
Their laziness becomes an indicator of their independence of the wage.
And the degree of frustration critics felt when they saw this laziness may be a guide to how well commoners could do without it.128
this.. after showing how they (those in control) were ..
motivated not so much by a desire to improve the efficiency of cultivation and animal husbandry, as by a desire to improve the efficiency of extracting labor from the rural population. Advocates for enclosure were explicitly motivated, in part, by the prediction of “complete wage dependence.”
earn a living ness