[Marxism] A world without work

Daniel Koechlin d.koechlin at wanadoo.fr
Thu Feb 28 17:57:54 MST 2013


What the "young Marx" wrote about work (in the German Ideology for 
instance) is alos found, in a more refined form, in Capital.

Alienation is the fundemantal philosophical problem of all work that is 
not "a means in itself" (i.e. something you do because you just feel 
like doing it) but " a means to a result" ("something tedious you HAVE 
TO do because the goal is "necessary"). MArx argues that since alienated 
work is really annoying, people will try to get others to do it, and 
thus the original unappealing charcter of lowly alienated labour will be 
transferred to those who are compelled to do said labour.

The aversion for labour that obliges the labourer to become an 
instrument in a process (Zweckenabhänglig Arbeit) is one of the factors 
that leads to a Class Society. What I perceive as tedious, 
externally-imposed activity, I am quite content in having others 
(reduced to the sate of mere agents in this externally-imposed process) 
perform.

MArx was initially confronted with Fourier's utopia of "work transformed 
into play". If you take the time to read up on Fourier's vision, you 
will find many fascinating insights. Fourier thought that 5 to 8 
year-old males would make the perfect garbage collectors because they 
love dirt and rummaging in waste.  He also thought that since plotting, 
scheming and forming cliques was as much a part of human nature as 
eating, sleeping or having sex, each individual should be free to join a 
certain group (according to his affinities) and that the rivalry between 
groups would produce opportunities for productive labour that would be 
perceived by the executants as pleasurable. No one group could take over 
the running of society as long as HARMONY was achieved through the 
constant interaction of many groups and cliques. Sexual freedom would 
eliminate a lot of stress and lust for power, especially if it were 
coupled with an initiation rite that would have all young people, both 
male and female, aged 16 to 20, sexually service the rest of the 
community. Harmony for Fourier results when each individual is allowed 
to pursue his own desires unhindered (by joining a given clique). It is 
the hinderence of individual desires that causes social classes and the 
desire to lord it over others. Hence Fourier's rejection of 
"civilization" and his anti-enlightenment stance. Fourier is widely 
considered as a precursor of Freud in this respect.

But Marx was not satisfied with Fourier's otherworldly doctrines of 
giving individuals free reign. He observed that work could never become 
play because it typically involved great concentration and reflection. 
To illustrate his concept of "work for its own sake", Marx used the 
analogy of art. The artists "works" hard, and yet his "work" fulfills 
him. IT is not "play". It is serious stuff, that is undertaken because 
one is in complete control over the process, and because one mingles 
one's self into the production process giving rise to something that is 
more than a mere use value : something that incorporates all the 
individuality of the producer. In Marx's vision of Communism (the 
ultimate goal) all things that were estranged from the producer return 
to him/her, so that he/she is both the real subject and the real enjoyer 
of his/her labour.






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