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Cogs in the machine?

By Owen Paine on Thursday June 2, 2011 11:19 AM

"Work in modern society entraps us in meaningless and inhuman labor."
Stumbled over that in a fit of fidgety self-discontented link hopping, and did it ever set off the virtual steam whistle!

Look, most folks have some variety of McShit job burning itself into their backside, or if not, they have only ass-branding McShit jobs to look back on or forward to. Yet these goo-goos in media pipe dream, puff out one or another brave new world vision filled to overflowing with meaningful occupations for all of us. That's plain bunko.

I submit most jobbled souls happily would settle right now for just a lot less of it and more pay -- less of it to leave time for free labor, not just play, of course. Which puts me in mind of a nice passage of Karl from Trier:

"In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou labour! was Jehovah's curse on Adam. And this is labour for Smith, a curse. 'Tranquillity' appears as the adequate state, as identical with 'freedom' and 'happiness'. It seems quite far from Smith's mind that the individual, 'in his normal state of health, strength, activity, skill, facility', also needs a normal portion of work, and of the suspension of tranquillity. "
By this "normal portion of work" he isn't thinking of a McShit job, of course, even though he goes on to write
"Certainly, labour obtains its measure from the outside, through the aim to be attained and the obstacles to be overcome in attaining it. But Smith has no inkling whatever that this overcoming of obstacles is in itself a liberating activity — and that, further, the external aims become stripped of the semblance of merely external natural urgencies, and become posited as aims which the individual himself posits — hence as self-realization, objectification of the subject, hence real freedom, whose action is, precisely, labour."
That ain't for most of us now, not in this social formation, and at this juncture; nope, it's pure McShit all the way up and down:
"in its historic forms as slave-labour, serf-labour, and wage-labour, labour always appears as repulsive, always as external forced labour; and not-labour, by contrast, as 'freedom, and happiness'."
At this point the old boy really puts of the dialectical grass skirt; bear with it, though:
"This holds doubly: for this contradictory labour; and, relatedly, for labour which has not yet created the subjective and objective conditions for itself (or also, in contrast to the pastoral etc. state, which it has lost), in which labour becomes attractive work, the individual's self-realization, which in no way means that it becomes mere fun, mere amusement, as Fourier, with grisette-like naivete, conceives it.

"Really free working, e.g. composing, is at the same time precisely the most damned seriousness, the most intense exertion. The work of material production can achieve this character only (1) when its social character is posited, (2) when it is of a scientific and at the same time general character, not merely human exertion as a specifically harnessed natural force, but exertion as subject, which appears in the production process not in a merely natural, spontaneous form, but as an activity regulating all the forces of nature."

Even after the coming social revolution brings forth its new and brighter prospects for us all, the vast bulk of our "daily work tasks" will be in large measure McShit jobs with McShit tasks, that is, inasmuch as they are paying us anything -- in other words, inasmuch as they are socially valued jobs, jobs that in their mighty collectivity produce the necessary material basis of society itself. They're mostly not tasks self-assigned and purely guided by our free will, tasks "of a scientific and at the same time general character," or alternatively, tasks that are a fulfilling expression of the creative essence of our then "fully liberated ethical will".

Comments (3)


So Owen, you read Karl's (1) and (2) as the two terms of an 'or' rather than those of an 'and'?

If only Glossmaster had learned how to communicate effectively.

His obfuscatory style commends him to the Priest caste, who thrive on "interpreting" the clouded murk of indirect, spirographing clownprose.

He said he had a point to make, but he didn't make it. He did a lot of saying, though. So we have that, at least.

Brian M:

I think what he is saying is that "work" will always be less than fun. Which is realistic in this Fallen Creation.

Part of the problem, of course, is we are trained to "need more" and by needing more "stuff" we are taught we need to work more...and that means McShit jobs or jobs that involve oppressing and trampling others, to be even more negative.

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