Re: Happy July 4th Independence Day!

From: J. R. Molloy (
Date: Fri Jul 06 2001 - 10:29:49 MDT

From: "L B" <>
> Michael Ventura
> wrote an article called, "Someone is Stealing Your
> Life," about the slavery of these hours spent serving
> The Man, who has everything we will never have even
> though we do the work.

Bob Black went further by writing
The Abolition of Work
No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil
you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for
work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.

That doesn't mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new
way of life based on play; in other words, a ludic conviviality, commensality,
and maybe even art. There is more to play than child's play, as worthy as that
is. I call for a collective adventure in generalized joy and freely
interdependent exuberance. Play isn't passive. Doubtless we all need a lot
more time for sheer sloth and slack than we ever enjoy now, regardless of
income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion
nearly all of us want to act. Oblomovism and Stakhanovism are two sides of the
same debased coin.

The ludic life is totally incompatible with existing reality. So much the
worse for "reality," the gravity hole that sucks the vitality from the little
in life that still distinguishes it from mere survival. Curiously -- or maybe
not -- all the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work.
Some of them, like Marxism and most brands of anarchism, believe in work all
the more fiercely because they believe in so little else.

Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end
employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. Following Karl Marx's
wayward son-in-law Paul Lafargue I support the right to be lazy. Leftists
favor full employment. Like the surrealists -- except that I'm not kidding --
I favor full unemployment. Trotskyists agitate for permanent revolution. I
agitate for permanent revelry. But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate
work -- and not only because they plan to make other people do theirs -- they
are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages,
hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity, profitability. They'll
gladly talk about anything but work itself. These experts who offer to do our
thinking for us rarely share their conclusions about work, for all its
saliency in the lives of all of us. Among themselves they quibble over the
details. Unions and management agree that we ought to sell the time of our
lives in exchange for survival, although they haggle over the price. Marxists
think we should be bossed by bureaucrats. Libertarians think we should be
bossed by businessmen. Feminists don't care which form bossing takes so long
as the bosses are women. Clearly these ideology-mongers have serious
differences over how to divvy up the spoils of power. Just as clearly, none of
them have any objection to power as such and all of them want to keep us

You may be wondering if I'm joking or serious. I'm joking and serious. To be
ludic is not to be ludicrous. Play doesn't have to be frivolous, although
frivolity isn't triviality: very often we ought to take frivolity seriously.
I'd like life to be a game -- but a game with high stakes. I want to play for

The alternative to work isn't just idleness. To be ludic is not to be
quaaludic. As much as I treasure the pleasure of torpor, it's never more
rewarding than when it punctuates other pleasures and pastimes. Nor am I
promoting the managed time-disciplined safety-valve called "leisure"; far from
it. Leisure is nonwork for the sake of work. Leisure is the time spent
recovering from work and in the frenzied but hopeless attempt to forget about
work. Many people return from vacation so beat that they look forward to
returning to work so they can rest up. The main difference between work and
leisure is that work at least you get paid for your alienation and enervation.

I am not playing definitional games with anybody. When I say I want to abolish
work, I mean just what I say, but I want to say what I mean by defining my
terms in non-idiosyncratic ways. My minimum definition of work is forced
labor, that is, compulsory production. Both elements are essential. Work is
production enforced by economic or political means, by the carrot or the
stick. (The carrot is just the stick by other means.) But not all creation is
work. Work is never done for its own sake, it's done on account of some
product or output that the worker (or, more often, somebody else) gets out of
it. This is what work necessarily is. To define it is to despise it. But work
is usually even worse than its definition decrees. The dynamic of domination
intrinsic to work tends over time toward elaboration. In advanced work-riddled
societies, including all industrial societies whether capitalist of
"Communist," work invariably acquires other attributes which accentuate its



Stay hungry,

--J. R.

Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, CYC

     Everything that can happen has already happened, not just once,
     but an infinite number of times, and will continue to do so forever.
     (Everything that can happen = more than anyone can imagine.)

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