In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century’s end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There’s every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn’t happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more.
This essay about “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber from LSE has been doing the rounds on Facebook. It explains why (or is at least a good take on why) we are yet to have a Keynesian 15-hour workweek as standard.
The ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger (think of what started to happen when this even began to be approximated in the ‘60s). And, on the other hand, the feeling that work is a moral value in itself, and that anyone not willing to submit themselves to some kind of intense work discipline for most of their waking hours deserves nothing, is extraordinarily convenient for them.
If you’re interested in the phenomenon of wage slavery being pointless in the age of productive technology, I’d also recommend Productivity and the Workweek (referenced by Jacob Lund Fisker in our upcoming ninth issue) and also a book called How Much is Enough? by Robert and Edward Skidelsky.
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