“To all you workers out there, every single commodity you produce is a piece of your own death.”
•It’s Labor Day, and although I think most American anarchists see Labor Day as a bogus version of May Day, a video editorial from Joanna Allhands had me thinking more about it than usual this year. I generally find the Arizona Republic oped writing from Allhands repulsively stupid and reactionary, but I was entertained by her Labor Day post in which she makes the case for doing nothing on the holiday. Not a particularly radical position, and her writing generally comes from a rightwing orientation, so of course she decries her imagined advocate of labor who would like you “to join a union, or protest, or at least do something productive to further workers’ rights on Labor Day”, so she instead calls for laziness maybe to irritate the leftwing busybodies. What she has no imagination for, and sadly neither do many anarchists who want to build the struggle, is an intervention of the laziest sort, a ludic strike of play and rest, of creativity and spontaneity, a withholding of labor on a scale to bring capitalists to their knees, and may even keep the planet hospitable to humans.
Rather than sound off on some grand anarchist (Marxist informed) analysis that was TL;DR (and utterly unreadable to anyone outside of specialized Left circles) I thought I’d pull together some writings and things said against work, along with some videos. But hey, if you’re still reading this on Labor Day, have the day off, and haven’t done enough of nothing yet (or whatever you like), feel free to put the device away and settle in for a nap.
“Workers of the World…Relax,” this is a bit of an odd video, but an entertaining interpretation of Bob Black’s Abolition of Work.
•HUMANITY WON’T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST
-OCCUPATION COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE’S FREE SORBONNE UNIVERSITY
16 May 1968
•Although workplace utopians in France and Spain called on workers to take over the productive forces and construct a socialist or libertarian society, everyday contact with wage earners mitigated the Left’s theoretical commitment to productivism. During the nineteenth century and when out of power in the twentieth, working-class organizations usually supported their own constituents’ demands for less worktime. In fact, the organizations would probably have had fewer members if they had ignored workers’ demands to avoid work. But the advocacy of idleness per se never became a publicly proclaimed platform of the Left. In the 1930s leisure was frequently defended in productivist terms as restoration after work or as effective employment of the jobless. The more subversive forms of resistance—absenteeism, malingering, and sabotage—were officially ignored, except in situations like the Spanish Revolution and, to a much lesser extent, the French Popular Front, when the parties and the unions of the Left assumed some responsibility for the smooth functioning of the productive forces and were thus forced to combat resistance.
-Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts by Michael Seidman
•Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving
through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a
job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and house you leave
empty all day in order to afford to live in it.
•Behind the glorification of “work” and the tireless talk of the “blessings of work” I find the same thought as behind the praise of impersonal activity for the public benefit: the fear of everything individual. At bottom, one feels now when confronted with work – and what is invariably meant is relentless industry from early till late – that such work is the best police, that it keeps everybody in harness and powerfully obstructs the development of reason, of covetousness, of the desire for independence. For it uses up a tremendous amount of nervous industry and takes it away from reflection, brooding, dreaming, worry, love, and hatred; it always sets a small goal before one’s eyes and permits easy and regular satisfaction. In that way a society in which the members continually work hard will have more security: and security is now adorned as the supreme goddess. And now – horrors! – it is precisely the “worker” who has become dangerous. Dangerous individuals are swarming all around. And behind them, the danger of dangers: the individual.
•Too lazy to go to work, too lazy to go to war, too lazy to pay taxes…one big lazy general strike is our last hope