Interesting topical thoughts about the nature of work in Zoe Williams’ column today, with reference to a new survey of attitudes to working hours:
these figures point to the same conclusion: people work extremely hard when they can’t live any other way, and steadily less hard – or wish they could work less hard – when they can afford to.
It contains a thought about the modern use of the word “hardworking” used frequently by twats in the government:
the new consensus about hardworking people, hardworking families, human units defined by the intensity of their effort, actually sounds, when you decouple it from whichever smooth voice whence it came, a bit Soviet. It calls to mind those glory years of post-revolutionary propaganda in which to work – particularly with your top off – was to wrest back dignity from the capital forces that had tried to steal it from you. And yet we are meant to exist in this era of self-interest, in which our sense of identity is created not by work but by consumption. It’s a totally contradictory trope: of course it couldn’t brook challenge or nuance or an honest account of what work actually means to people. It would disintegrate.
I recently read Green MP Caroline Lucas’ marvelous book about the mechanisms of parliament. She says that “hardworking” is indicative of subtle Conservative Party propaganda, in this case a deliberate and concerted attempt to “reframe” the way we perceive beneficiaries of the welfare state. Rather than see pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed as people deserving of state assistance, the Tories want us to despise them so that any cuts to their welfare will be met with public approval. The key, apparently, is to position them as lazy, selfish, non-hardworking: