What Would A World Without Work Be Like?

What comes next? Via the Guardian, Nina Power argues that work is becoming obsolete:

As with all major institutional entities – law, prison, education – to question work is to tamper with reality itself. As with law, prison and education, it is almost always “never a good time” to talk about reform, or the abolition of existing structures.

But as wages bear less and less relation to the cost of living, it seems as good a time as any to ask if the underlying fantasy is that employers will one day be able to pay their workers nothing at all, because all those issues like housing, food, clothing, childcare will somehow be dealt with in another, mysterious, way.

Against the backdrop of rising inflation, increasing job insecurity, geographically asymmetrical unemployment, attacks on the working and non-working populations, and cuts to benefits – a debate about what work is and what it means has been taking place. Some discussions at Occupy focused on what an anti-work (or post-work) politics might mean, and campaigns not only for a living wage but for a guaranteed, non-means-tested “citizen’s income” are gathering pace.

As what it means to work becomes both more obscure and increasingly desperate, 2013 might be the perfect time to ask what work is, what it means, and what it might mean to live without it.

12 Comments on "What Would A World Without Work Be Like?"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Jan 15, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

    How dare you refuse to submit to my judgment?!!

  2. A world without some kind of work would be… chaotic. Anarchy!

  3. emperorreagan | Jan 15, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

    When people start questioning the premises and myths of modern economics instead of simply trying to figure out how to live lives of leisure within a system where so much of the labor is shadow labor (migrant workers on farms, long hours in factories overseas, etc.), then I’ll be interested.

  4. Ted Heistman | Jan 15, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

    It would probably be a world of dirty hippies, for the most part. I mean hippies have their good points and bad points. Its easy to get sick of them fast if you see enough of them, though.

    I like hybrid type hippies. People that have some of the hippy values in them and some of the protestant values in them. You know like people that are not only “into” stuff, but actually do stuff. Like Farm, build things, etc.

    Outside of coercion, I think a lot of people would continue to do work they enjoy, but I am troubled by doubts that enough people would to keep things running for everybody. Hunter Gathers lived in much lower population densities than people do now.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Jan 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

    The Jesus dealt with the issue of jobs way back in the day:
    In Matt:24 he explains
    24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

    He then goes on to explain that birds & flowers have no jobs but abundant provisions.
    And ends with:
    33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

    There are very few “Christians” who take this idea as the word of God, let alone none Christians, who would find it ludicrous. But in my experience of 15 years of being gainfully unemployed, it’s not a theory, it’s a fact.

    • Jin The Ninja | Jan 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

      how mammon is explicitly personified (and later mythologised as a ducal demon) how it is specifically rallied against by jesus is irrefutable evidence that jesus was (whatever x’tianity may be) a stringent, unrepentant anti capitalist. there can be no other reading of it. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” mark 10-25

      • BuzzCoastin | Jan 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

        modern Xianity and most of modernity
        considers mammon the end all and be all
        when in fact, it’s just a means of exchange

        I was wandering around SE Asia a few years ago
        my only schedule was my expiring Visa
        (30 days and on to the next country)
        I realized that Bill Gates, the richest man in the whirled
        couldn’t ever do what I was doing
        wandering aimlessly around the world
        meeting people, getting in adventures

        • mannyfurious | Jan 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm |

          In the “old days” a king’s throne was positioned in such a way as to have his back against the wall with at least one warrior on either side for protection. Every visitor was to kneel to the king, not as a sign of respect, but because it was that position which best ensured the king was not going to be attacked. As is commonly known, the king had royal tasters, whose sole job was to taste the king’s food before the king.

          Those are just a few examples of how the king was utterly the least “free” person in his kingdom.

          It’s kind of different, but kind of along the same lines as your post.

      • mannyfurious | Jan 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

        “Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.” –Luke 6:30

        “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” –Matthew 5:42

        “If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.” –Matthew 5:40

        “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” –Matthew 5:5

        Yeah, there’s a lot of “prosperity gospel” going on in those quotes. And those are just ones off the top of my head.

        My wife’s Catholic, and as such, wanted to get married in the church. It didn’t bother me much, but I had to attend adult education classes and receive my first communion and my confirmation. These were actually pretty interesting classes. I learned a lot about “scripture” which is always useful in our society. Anyway, I remember during one class, we were discussing how Jesus was pretty clear in his disgust of greed and of “prosperity.” The teachers were pretty much in agreement about that, but there was this couple present, and we all knew they were pretty well-off. They went on and on about how they interpreted things like “Blessed are the meek…” to mean, “Blessed are the meek IN SPIRIT” even though that’s not what it says, and, based on a variety of other quotes, was very definitely not what he meant.

        That’s not an interesting story, but I just thought it was funny how I was a poser, someone who wasn’t really Catholic, but was pretending to be, and yet I had more faith in their lord and savior than they did.

        • Jin The Ninja | Jan 22, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

          it is an interesting story, as an allegory for how the monolith of catholic church justifies its tremendous wealth (as well as the various prosperity gospel sects of efrees), and its connections to corporate/ ruling class wealth.

  6. a world without work?? like being a child (for a relative amount of people) waking each day to endless wonder and amazement at what potential there is in the world…burning paper with a magnifying glass, catching a frog and returning it to it’s natural habitat in a jar with a stick and holes in the lid for air, spending entire days in the freezing ass cold sled riding, staying up late, taking pictures, hiking through the woods and walking the stream, getting back home in time to watch Scooby-Doo, eating and running back out the door again, getting birthday presents, the joy of Christmas, all with the heart of a child but the wisdom of the ages….cause it’s here now at everyone’s finger tips being passed around at the speed of love.

Comments are closed.