Napster Article

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Aug 17 08:12:54 MDT 2000

William Wharton:
>The ability to spend time concocting this scheme outside of a regular
>class or work schedule is testimony to the potential for creativity which
>exists in idleness.  Philosopher Bertrand Russell delighted in the idea of
>creating mass social situations such as the one which benefited Fanning,
>Parker, Ritter and millions of others in his essay In Praise of Idleness.

Let's not forget Paul Lafargue's "The Right to Be Lazy" which is online at:

Here's chapter one:


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. Blind and
finite men, they have wished to be wiser than their God; weak and
contemptible men, they have presumed to rehabilitate what their God had
cursed. I, who do not profess to be a Christian, an economist or a
moralist, I appeal from their judgement to that of their God; from the
preachings of their religious, economics or free thought ethics, to the
frightful consequences of work in capitalist society.

In capitalist society work is the cause of all intellectual degeneracy, of
all organic deformity. Compare the thorough-bred in Rothschild's stables,
served by a retinue of bipeds, with the heavy brute of the Norman farms
which plows the earth, carts the manure, hauls the crops. Look at the noble
savage whom the missionaries of trade and the traders of religion have not
yet corrupted with Christianity, syphilis and the dogma of work, and then
look at our miserable slaves of machines.

When, in our civilized Europe, we would find a trace of the native beauty
of man, we must go seek it in the nations where economic prejudices have
not vet uprooted the hatred of work. Spain, which, alas, is degenerating,
may still boast of possessing fewer factories than we have of prisons and
barracks; but the artist rejoices in his admiration of the hardy
Andalusian, brown as his native chestnuts, straight and flexible as a steel
rod; and the heart leaps at hearing the beggar, superbly draped in his
ragged capa, parleying on terms of equality with the duke of Ossuna. For
the Spaniard, in whom the primitive animal has not been atrophied, work is
the worst sort of slavery. The Greeks in their era of greatness had only
contempt for work: their slaves alone were permitted to labor: the free man
knew only exercises for the body and mind. And so it was in this era that
men like Aristotle, Phidias, Aristophanes moved and breathed among the
people; it was the time when a handful of heroes at Marathon crushed the
hordes of Asia, soon to be subdued by Alexander. The philosophers of
antiquity taught contempt for work, that degradation of the free man, the
poets sang of idleness, that gift from the Gods:

O Melibae Deus nobis haec otia fecit.

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." Jehovah the bearded and angry god, gave his worshipers the supreme
example of ideal laziness; after six days of work, he rests for all eternity.

On the other hand, what are the races for which work is an organic
necessity? The Auvergnians; the Scotch, those Auvergnians of the British
Isles; the Galicians, those Auvergnians of Spain; the Pomeranians, those
Auvergnians of Germany; the Chinese, those Auvergnians of Asia. In our
society which are the classes that love work for work's sake' The peasant
proprietors, the little shopkeepers; the former bent double over their
fields, the latter crouched in their shops, burrow like the mole in his
subterranean passage and never stand up to look at nature leisurely.

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.

Louis Proyect

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