This post was initially published in the new Bomb4Peace blog…
Welcome Nur to the blogosphere…
You called your blog “bombing4peace”, so I may assume that you intend to expose some of the annoying and dangerous contradictions in our world order. I know you experienced and suffered a lot from the contradictions of our distorted society. I really hope you will have the time and passion to bring more of your experience and reflections into writing.
To be more specific, I wanted to celebrate your new-born blog by relating to your first post.
You named it “I don’t want to ‘work to live’ or ‘live to work’”… At first glance it may look like an expression of “laziness” of a spoiled youth that don’t want to be enlisted to the mass slave-labor (or wage-labor) market. In the post you go much beyond your personal choices and propose a new world economic order, based on universal division of the really necessary work (maybe 4 hours’ work, 4 days a week) in order that everybody in the world will be able to live in dignity and still have a lot of free time and control of their life choices.
* * *
The belief and knowledge that “Another World is Possible” is an important part of our self-defense mechanism against our enslavement to the system.
Fighting for a better world is not only a matter of choice, but it is a necessity. You pose the question “how much work is really necessary?” In our age things are changing fast, and the answer to this question is also changing…
On my first year working in the factory (as a computer programmer), more than 30 years ago, our work week was shortened by a quarter of an hour, at the initiative of the management (We were never allowed to organize!). I thought this was the most natural thing, and that with the progress of technology we will have to work less and less. But it never happened again.
The Capitalist system failed to translate better technology and higher productivity to lesser work burden. This is in part because the system itself is causing high friction, inflicting immense extra expenses on everybody through wars, arms-race, the legal system, mass imprisonment, advertising, pollution, bureaucracy, the financial system, rampant consumerism and much more.
But unnecessary work is not the only damage caused by the Capitalist system. While the original meaning of work, as you suggest in your post, is to produce the necessities for human living, Capitalism converted work, or waged-labor, into a commodity that is traded in the market…
Our work is not ours any more. We are not making the things that we need, but we sell our working power in order to get the money to buy our needs. Our magnificent ability to change the world, our creativity, doesn’t belong to us but we are obliged to sell it in order to live… This way our work is converted from the essence of our Human lives to an activity that is forced upon us, mostly in frustrating and humiliating circumstances, many times in direct service to our most despised enemies.
This system of alienated over-work may not be sustainable much longer, even as we put all our effort unwillingly at its service.
* * *
In a special report about the world economy, dated October 4, 2014, The Economist investigates the future of work under the third industrial revolution – the consequences of the information and communication technology. It provides a wide perspective of the change that is just taking place… It estimates that about 47% of current jobs in the US may be replaced by computers or automation over the next decade. It describes how the percentage of the population employed in manufacturing has already peaked in many 3rd world countries before industrialization had the chance to pull them out of poverty.
In spite of all the amazing technological development over the last decade, productivity growth and economic development are slowing. The report goes on to describe the shrinking part that workers are getting from the hardly-expanding cake, while the rich elite are accumulating unprecedented wealth. Within the working population itself, the proportion of income of the top small minority is increasing while the fate of most workers is not improving or even getting worse. The types of available jobs is also changing, as middle-skill jobs with decent wages are most prone to be replaced by technology, and therefore, most workers are pressed to the lower skill low-paid jobs.
The prospect that the report is predicting for the majority of Humanity who live from their work is dire: “a generation of workers, the world over, is facing unemployment and stagnant pay”… By treating work as a commodity that workers must sell for their living, they conclude that there will not be work enough for everybody and the price of Human working-power (like any commodity whenever its supply exceeds demand) will continue tumbling.
* * *
We learn in High Tech that every problem is an opportunity.
Capitalism is a system that designates most of humanity to poverty, just because work (defined as the caring for peoples’ needs) can be done ever more efficiently. This system IS lunatic while yours proposals are pure logic.
Actually, what we are missing is political power to the people. As the Capitalists are controlling the state and the international system, they utilize them to their self interest – to make more money at the expense of the vast majority. More and more people today understand that only through political power this process may be stopped or even reversed. You can see it in the mass movement to raise the minimum wage.
If putting your effort in order to create better conditions for Human livelihood is the original meaning of work, than working for political change, working for a just social order, for Socialism, is the most necessary and productive work in our times.
You might even discover that writing your blog is also work… I hope it will not dissuade you from going on with this blessed effort.
* * *
To finish with some real-world hard facts about work and working times, I wanted to mention also a recent BBC inquiry into working conditions in the supply-chain used to produce Apple’s iPhones.
They report appalling condition in a Pegatron factory near Shanghai, with workers working up to 16 hours a day. They also report the exploitation of children in dangerous conditions in mines in Indonesia.
As all big companies expertise today in “Social Responsibility,” Apple was quick to reply that is making a lot of progress to assure decent working conditions along all its supply chain… They claimed to have reached 93% compliance with their generous goal of no more than 60 working-hours a week!!!