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The Need to Work

The Need to Work
Sean Sayers

The theme of this paper is work. At a time when mass
unemployment is a major social and political problem
throughout the industrial world, it is a theme which needs
little introduction. Nevertheless, I shall begin with a bit.

For I must confess that work is a subject that did not much
occupy my thoughts until recently. I have a steady and
relatively congenial job teaching philosophy in a
University. There is little danger of my losing it, and
scant prospect of changing it. From my own immediate
experience, therefore, I have little occasion to think
about the issue of work.

This complacency was gradually disturbed, however, by
the great British miners’ strike of 1984-5. The strike was
against pit closures – in defence of jobs and communities.

The cause seemed doomed from the outset, for the miners
were pitting themselves against economic forces beyond
even the power of governments to control. Nevertheless,
the months passed, and the miners stayed out on strike and
even increased the intensity of their struggle: on their
own, without significant support from the rest of the
labour movement, and in the face of a concerted attempt
to break the strike by the whole organised force of the
State and the propaganda power of the media. As the
extraordinary level of the miner’s unity, determination
and commitment to their cause gradually became evident,
one began to wonder: why are they fighting so hard? what
are they struggling for?

At one level the answer was clear enough. They were
fighting for their jobs and their communities, they were
fighting for the traditional socialist principle of ‘the
right to work’. For socialism is based upon the view that
social productive labour is, in Marx’s words, ‘man’s
essential activity’ (and woman’s too) and, potentially at
least, the main avenue to human self-development and
fulfilment. Beyond that, working people have also
struggled for a decent portion of leisure as equally a
human need. These are the ideas that I will be seeking to
explain and defend in what follows.

They are not, of course, peculiar to socialism. In
particular, the idea that people need work, and that
unemployment is a human evil and one of the greatest of
current social problems, is common ground amongst almost
all shades of political opinion. Yet, at a more
philosophical level, it is not always clear why this
should be so. For work is very often conceived as
unwanted and painful toil which people would avoid if
they could.

This is how it is portrayed by an influential and
pervasive social philosophy – the hedonist account of
human nature, which underlies utilitarianism and classical
economics. According to this theory, the pursuit of
pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the sole motive
forces of human life. Work involves painful exertion and
the deferral of gratification – we undertake it only
because we are forced to, as a means to satisfy our needs.

If we are fortunate enough to be able to meet our needs

without working – to consume without the toil of producing
– we will readily do so. So the hedonist theory has it.

Thus Russell, for example, writes ‘In Praise of
Idleness’ [1]. Ideally, he suggests, we would live a life
of luxurious indolence. Hume, who shares this view,
envisages this ideal life as follows.

Let us suppose that nature has bestowed on the
human race such a profuse abundance of all external
conveniences, that, without any uncertainty in the
event, without any care or industry on our part, every
individual finds himself fully provided with
whatever his most voracious appetites can want, or
luxurious imagination wish or desire…. No laborious
occupation required; no tillage, no navigation.

Music, poetry, and contemplation form his sole
business conversation, mirth and friendship his sole
amusement [2].

Appealing and plausible as this vision may at first
appear, there are good reasons to question it. Empirical
studies reveal that people’s attitudes to work are more
complex and contradictory than it suggests. They show
that the great majority want work and feel
need for
work, even when they find it unsatisfying in all sorts of
ways: dull, repetitive, meaningless. Moreover, there is
much evidence to demonstrate the harmful and destructive
effects of unemployment.

A t the simplest level, a remarkably high percentage of
people in work respond in positive terms if asked whether.

they find their work satisfying. In a British survey of thiS
kind carried out in 1978, 75% replied that they liked their
work ‘a lot’. Figures were higher among managers (81 %)
than among skilled workers (73%); but even 66% of the
unskilled workers said that they liked work ‘a lot’ [3].

Of course, caution is needed in interpreting such crude
findings. It is clear that answers are given in the light of
available alternatives, which are usually unattractive, as
Kahn explains.

For most workers it is a choice between no work
connection (usually with severe attendant economic
penalties and a conspicuous lack of meaningful
alternative activities) and a work connection which
is burdened with negative qualities (routine,
compulsory scheduling, dependency, etc.). In these
circumstances, the individual has no difficulty with
the choice; he chooses work, and pronounces himself
moderately satisfied [4].

Other studies, however, indicate that very few people
would happily give up their work, even if the alternative
meant no loss of income. They call into question the idea
that what people want is a life of mere consumption and
that they work only as means to earn a livelihood.

a cross-section of Americans were asked if they would
continue working even if they inherited enough to live
comfortably without working, 80% said they would keep
working’ [5]. Moreover, the percentage of people who say
tha t they would work in such circumstances rises as



people approach retirement age. This is a striking fact, as
Marie Jahoda observes, ‘for at the age of 65 the
alternative to a job – no work – must be a highly realistic
comparison, While for younger people the question invites
fantasy’ [6].

Studies of the unemployed and of the retired,
furthermore, suggest that the effects of the absence of
work extend far beyond the financial sphere. An
investigation among the unemployed workers of
Marienthal in Austria in the early 1930s, for example,
showed that ‘their sense of time disintegrated; having
nothing to do meant that they became less able to be
punctual for meals or other arrangements. Budgeting, so
much more necessary than before, was progressively
abandoned…. Family relations ••• deteriorated and family
quarrels increased’ [7].

Many subsequent studies have confirmed these findings.

They have shown a lowering of self-esteem and morale,
and increases in the suicide rate and the incidence of
psychiatric treatment [8]. In short, there is strong
evidence that ‘work plays a crucial and perhaps
unparalleled psychological role in the formation of selfesteem, identity, and a sense of order’ [9].

does not make them desirable places in which to live 114].

There is no doubt of the alienation and dissatisfaction
involved in much modern work. Does this refute the idea
that there is a need to work? Not at all. To insist that
there is a need to work, and a need for fulfilment in work,
is not to say that these needs are adequately met in
present society. On the contrary, it is only by recognizing
these needs that we can understand the phenomenon of
alienation and appreciate the critical force of this
concept. For the concept of alienation presupposes that
there is a need for work and for fulfilment in work that
modern conditions of work deny.

This point is well known and needs little emphasis. It
is clear in the description that Marx gives of alienated
labour, which consists in the fact that, in his work the
does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not
feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely
his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body
and ruins his mind…. His labour is therefore not
voluntary but coerced; it is forced labour. It is
therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely
a means to satisfy needs external to it [15].

Yet people are sceptical of philosophies which tell them
that they need to work or that they should find fulfilment
in work; and not without some reason. For such
philosophies seem grotesquely at odds with the reality of
work as the majority experience it. Work is often routine,
oppressive and stultifying. So far from offering
possibilities of fulfilment and self-realisation, more
typically it is alienating and destructive of soul and body.

In Marx’s well known words, industrial forms of work
‘mutilate the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade
him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy
every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into hated
toil’ [10]. These highly charged words, though written
more than 100 years ago about Victorian factory
conditions, still apply today – and not only to factory
work, but equally to a growing range of office and service
sector jobs, which are being subjected to the industrial
division of labour [11].

Evidence of the alienating and destructive effects of
modern work has been extensively documented by social
scientists in recent years. Much of this evidence is based
upon personal accounts of the exper ience of work by
workers [12]. This sort of evidence is sometimes regarded
as unreliable, as ‘subjective’ and ‘impressionistic’. The
overwhelming weight of it, however, means that it cannot
be dismissed, even by the most unsympathetic writers. The
term ‘alienation’ is one of the few theoretical concepts of
Marxism that has passed into everyday currency; and this is
because the features of work that it describes are
experienced on a very wide scale. Alienation is a common
feature of work as we know it.

Apparently less ‘subjective’ indications of the extent of
alienation can be gathered in the form of statistics for
rates of absenteeism, ‘unofficial strikes’ and other forms
of indiscipline at work. Such evidence is more readily
quantifiable; but not necessarily better for that reason.

For, like all evidence, the significance requires

At the end of the sixties and in the early seventies,
such rates were increasing. At the time, this was often
cited as proof of the increasing alienation of workers and
of the demise of the ‘Protestant work ethic’ [13]. We hear
less of this theme these days. Such forms of indiscipline
are now less prevalent; but it would be unwise to
conclude from this that attitudes to work have changed
fundamentally in recent years, or that alienation in work
has significantly diminished. The threat of unemployment,
as we all know, is a harsh task-master. ‘Tranquility is
found also in dungeons,’ as Rousseau observed, but that


Implicit in the concept of alienation is the view that we
are not mere passive consumers – we are active and
creative beings. Productive work is ‘the first premise of
all human existence’ [16] – the most fundamental and
essential human activity, and the basis upon which both
human nature and society develop. And, although Marx
never fails to stress that in present conditions most forms
of work are alienating and humanly destructive, he
entirely rejects the view that work is mere toil and that
mankind has a natural and inherent aversion to it. Given
the necessary conditions, labour can be ‘a liberating
activity’, it can become ‘attractive work, the individual’s
self-realization’ [17].

These ideas are not confined to the socialist tradition.

Similar views are at the basis of the work of Maslow and
other humanistic psychologists. They also underlie the
‘job enrichment’ school of industrial psychology. In
opposition to the hedonistic account, as Skillen explains,
‘Frederick Herzberg and others have argued that ••• human
beings are fundamentally active, creative, intellectual,
decisive, problem-solving. Work, then, can and should be
attractive, Challenging, self-regulated and involving’


This approach helps to explain and illuminate the need
to work. In the first place, and at the most abstract and
general level, work requires activity. It is clear that
people, in the modern world at least, have a need to be
active. They are not, in fact, satisfied by a life of mere
passive idleness with ‘no laborious occupation required’.

One of the great psychological problems of unemployment
is coping with the inactivity it brings. Moreover, work not
only demands activity; in the form of a job, at least, 1t
imposes a time-structure on the waking day. The absence
of such a time-structure is also usually experienced as a
problem by those who are unemployed [19].

Secondly, work is productive activity. The exercise of
our powers to shape and form the objective world and
appropriate it to our needs is in itself a satisfaction and a
need. In Marx’s words, ‘the object of work is ••• the
objectification of man’s species life’ in which he can
‘contemplate himself in a world that he has created’ [20].

Summarising numerous recent psychological studies, the
authors of ~ork in ~merica report that ‘through the •••
awareness of one’s efficacy and competence in dealing
with the objects of work, a person acquires a sense of
mastery over both himself and his environment’ [21].

Moreover, work is essentially the exercise of these
powers towards useful ends. The product is a use-value:

something that satisfies human needs. ‘Whatever his or her
occupation the worker feels needed,’ write Hayes and
work roles are not the only roles which offer the
individual the opportunity of being useful and
contributing to the community but, without doubt, for
the majority they are the most central roles and
consequently people deprived of the opportunity to
work often feel useless and report that they lack a
sense of purpose [22].

In the third place, work (in most of its modern forms, at
least) is a social activity, both in its organisation and in
its product. In most cases a job is a directly social
activity. It takes people out of their homes and puts them
into contact with others. In modern history, indeed, the
very process of work has become a cooperative one. As
Marx says, ‘the product ceases to be the direct product of
the individual, and become a social product, produced in
common by a collective labourer, i.e., by a combination of
workmen’ [23]. Moreover, the product, when it is destined
for the market, is intended to meet needs beyond those of
the individual or the immediate household.

For many people, work is the main basis of their social
life, and also of their sense of identity and status. Indeed,
in the case of large enterprises like mines or factories, it
may be the basis for a whole community. In a wide review
of attitude studies, Herzberg and his associates found that
the social aspect is the most frequently mentioned source
of satisfaction from work [24]. Conversely, as Jahoda
says, ‘case studies of the unemployed ••• repeatedly draw
attention to the demoralising effect of social isolation’

[25]. This is also, of course, a recurrent theme in the
literature about women whose work is confined to the

is therefore valueless, is therefore not real work’ [26J.

The modern women’s movement is a product of, and a
response to, these changes; and it has reflected the
ambivalent attitudes to work that I have been describing in
a particularly clear and conscious way. Two distinct and
opposed reactions are apparent within it. On the one hand,
some women have resisted and rejected the pressures
towards public employment. The world of work is a
‘man’s world’ – an alienated world – where women can
expect nothing but further oppression and exploitation.

They have consequently sought to reverse the attitudes
that Benson describes and ‘revalue’ the domestic, the
female sphere.

The main tendency of the women’s movement, however,
has been to accept – indeed, to affirm – the need for
women to work outside the home, and to demand the
conditions necessary to make practical and tolerable the
fulfilment of this need. These conditions being, in the
workplace, equal pay and opportunities, and the provision
of creches, nurseries, maternity leave, etc.; and, in the
home, an equal division of domestic labour. It is not here
a question of opposing the domestic role to work outside
the home, as though they were exclusive opposites. The
strand of the women’s movement that I am describing has
characteristically affirmed the need for both, with the
implication that it must be the same for men. As Margaret
Stacey puts it, ‘many women no longer want to be
presented with an “either-or” “choice” between work on
the one hand and a family on the other’ [27].

No doubt the forces that have driven women out to work
are mainly economic ones. Nevertheless, the women’s
movement is an expression and an indication of the fact
that, quite apart from the economic motives, women feel a
need – an inner need – for work: a need for a job as an end
in itself, and not merely as a means to earn a livelihood.

Some of the psychological evidence for this conclusion
is strikingly similar to the evidence about the
psychological effects of unemployment in general which I
have just described. Housewives increasingly feel
constrained by the purely domestic role, and unable to use
their talents and capacities to the full.· studies
show that the incidence of depression and psychiatric
symptoms is highe”r among housewives than among women
with jobs [28].

What this suggests is that the purely domestic role – no
matter how fulfilling and productive aspects of it may be
– is not a sufficient one for women in modern industrial
society. This is the message of the main strand of the
women’s movement. Long ago, in this context, Betty
Friedan talked of ‘the problem that has no name’ [29]. But
this problem does have a name, and that name is
‘unemployment’. In the modern world, that is to say,
women just like men have a need for jobs, for employment,
for work.

Women and Work
So far, I have implicitly been equating work with a job,
with employment, and contrasting it with unemployment.

It has been possible to do so because employment has
become the predominant form of work in contemporary
society. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are many
kinds of work which do not take this form. It is
particularly important to recognise this fact when talking
about the issue of women and work.

Traditionally, women’s work has been confined to the
domestic sphere, and this has been reflected in the view
that women’s ‘place’ is in the home. However, as has often
been observed, work patterns are changing. Since the last
world war, at least until the present recession, women
have increasingly been drawn into employment outside the
home. As a consequence, attitudes are also changing. ‘In
a society in which money determines value,’ writes
Margaret Benson, ‘women are a group who work outside the
money economy. Their work [at home] is not worth money,


Work and Liberation
The criticisms that I have made of hedonism have been
widely voiced in recent years; but the turn my argument
has just been taking is likely to be less familiar and to
provoke a more sceptical response. For many who would
agree that we are essentially active and productive beings
who in some sense need to work, would also maintain that
work, in the form of a job, can never be fulfilling. A job
is something we do only because we have to, in order to
earn a living; satisfying productive activity can exist only
outside the sphere of employment and jobs, in free time.

Thus, it will be argued, a sharp distinction must be made
between work in the world of employment and autonomous
creative activity outside it. What people want and need is
not employment, not jobs, but the very opposite. In Gorz’s
phrase they want the ‘liberation from work’ – a reduction
of the working day to the inescapable minimum and an
extension of leisure time [30].

The socialist principle of the ‘right to work’ is a
demand for jobs. According to libertarian writers like
Gorz, this demand is both reactionary and outdated.

Reactionary in that the work ethic it embodies is and
always has been, a ruling class ideology which is ‘

preached t? working people in the attempt to get them to
acce~t their work and do it without complaint.

Until now,
the lifelong labour of the vast majority has been a social
necessity. However, the introduction of automation and
the new technology is rapidly creating the conditions that
could free people from this need. We are on the brink of
the ‘post-industrial’ age, in which the ‘liberation’ from
work will be a real possibility, and in which the old ethic
of work will be neither appropriate nor applicable.

Ideas and arguments like these are enormously
influential at the moment, particularly on the left.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to comprehend either our
present attitudes to work or their history on the basis of
them. They are unsatisfactory in almost every respect.

That is what I will now argue.

In the first place, the widespread view that the work
e~hic is ne~essarily reactionary must be challenged.

history of ideas about work clearly reveals that a belief
in the human value of labour has by no means always been
the outlook of the ruling class. On the contrary, those
who have been exempted from the need to work by their
social position have often tended to look down upon work
– and particularly upon manual work – and denigrate it as
the lowest and least worthy of human activities [31].

Historically, the idea of the dignity of labour is
assoc~ated particularly with Protestantism.

especially on the left, it is customary – almost obligatory
– to sneer at the ‘Protestant work ethic’ and reject it as a
piece of reactionary and oppressive ideology. I shall
come back. to the question of its present significance in due
course. First, however, it is important to see that in its
own time, in the hands of the early Protestants at least it
had a progressive and radical aspect.

It is well known that Protestant ideas about work
helped to form the attitudes and to create the habits and
discipline which were needed for the development of
~c:>d.ern capitalism and modern industry [32].

However, the
Initial development of capitalist industry was not the
work of the ruling class of the time, and these ideas did
not express its interests. On the contrary, they expressed
the outlook and needs of what Christopher Hill, using a
seventeenth-century phrase, calls ‘the industrious sort of
people’: ‘ye~men, artisans and small and middling
merchants’; In other words, ‘economically independent
men, households, to the exclusion both of the property less
and of the privileged classes’ [33].

So far from being a ruling class ideology, the views of
the early Protestants were often aimed quite specifically
against the ruling class of the day – the aristocracy and
landed gentry – as an idle and parasitic class; and they


formed the basis of the revolutionary ideas of the Civil
War period. As Christopher Hill says,
a theory that dignifies labour is as double-edged as
the labour theory of value which is its secularised
counterpart, already to be found in the writings of
Hobbes and Locke ••• ‘They are unworthy of bread that
in their deeds have no care for the commonweal.’

This was the lower-class heresy throughout the
centuries. The propertied class had always been
able to suppress it until the sixteenth century; but
then it won its way to respectability, thanks in part
to the growing social importance of the industrious
sort of people [34].

Subsequently, as capitalist relations of production
were established, it was no longer so much a matter of
persuading people of the virtue of the modern habit of
work, as of keeping them at it. As the nascent bourgeoisie
won increasing economic power and political influence,
the political implications of the Pr:otestant work ethic
were gradually transformed. In Hill’s words, ‘as the
nonconformists sloughed off their political ideals, so
their emphasis on the duty of labour outweighed their
emphasis on the rights of those who work’ [35].

And yet, at the same time, the ‘lower-class heresy’ to
which Hill refers lived on, and ideas of the dignity of
labour continued to be ‘double-edged’. Indeed, as I have
argued, they remain at the basis of much radical and
socialist political thinking, and form the basis of its
critique of modern conditions of work.

In this connection, it is important to see that such ideas
also underlie the libertarian outlook of writers like Gorz.

Although he calls for a ‘liberation from work’, his
position should not be confused with the hedonist theory I
criticised earlier. Gorz is not writing in praise of a life of
mere consumption and idleness. Quite the contrary, he
advocates that our free time should be filled with
creative and productive activities. For he, too, believes
that people are essentially active beings, who can find
fulfilment only through the exercise of their creative
powers. However, he also argues that such fulfilment is
possible only outside the sphere of employment, ·which is
unavoidably alienating.

The question of whether alienation can be overcome in
some future society is outside my present scope; but it is
beyond question that much present work has alienating and
unsatisfying features, as I have already stressed.

Moreover, it is surely the case that there are some jobs
that are so menial and degrading that most people would
rather remain without work than do them. Nevertheless, it
is a mistake to regard all forms of employment in a purely
negative light. For the evidence, I have been arguing,
shows that for most people work is a more complex and
ambivalent experience. It shows that most people gain
genuine and important satisfactions from their work.

No doubt, these satisfactions – the satisfactions of the
active and social exercise of our creative powers – can be
obtained in ways other than through a job. Some people
indeed do find them outside the structure of employment,
as the report on ~ork in ~merica recognises:

although work is central to the lives of most people,
there is a small minority for whom a.lQ!? is purely a
means to a livelihood. To them a job is an activity

that they would gladly forego if a more acceptable
option for putting bread on their table were
available. What little evidence there is on this
point indicates that for most such individuals the
kind of jobs that they see open to them do little to
provide the sense of self-esteem, identity or mastery
that are the requisites for satisfying work. These
individuals turn to other activities (music, hobbies,
sport, crime) and other institutions (family, church,
community) to find the psychological rewards that
they do not find in their jobs [36].

For most people, however, the experience of being
without a job is a profoundly demoralising and
unfulfilling one. This is particularly so if joblessness
takes the form of unemployment in its usual sense, but to
a lesser extent it is also true of the exper ience of retired
people and of women engaged solely in housework, as I
have argued. Here it is worth noting Jahoda’s striking
finding that when they were made unemployed, the men
she studies in Marienthal actually decreased their leisure
activities, ‘the attendance of clubs and voluntary
organisations, their use of the free library, their reading’


No doubt it is possible to live a fulfilling life without
a job. However, the number of people who succeed in
doing so constitute only a small minority; for the inner
resources required are very great. Jahoda puts the point
well. ‘It is true,’ she writes,
that nobody prevents the unemployed from creating
their own time structure and social contacts, from
sharing goals and purposes with others or from
exercising their skills as best they can. But the
psychological input required to do so on a regular
basis under one’s own steam entirely, is colossal

fundamental need in present society. However, there are
reasons to believe that it has not always been so, and that
attitudes to work have changed greatly in the course of

A frequently heard complaint of Western employers in
the third world is that the ‘natives’ make poor workers:

they are ‘unreliable’, they are ‘lazy’. These complaints
are not new. Marx quotes an amusing example.

In The Times of November 1857 there appeared a
delightful yell of rage from a West Indian planter.

With great moral indignation this advocate, in
support of his pleas for the re-establishment of
Negro slavery, describes how the Quashees (the free
Negroes of Jamaica) were content to produce what
was strictly necessary for their own consumption,
and looked upon laziness itself (‘indulgence’ and
‘idleness’) as the real luxury article alongside this
‘use value’. They said that sugar, and all the fixed
capital laid out in the plantations could go to hell;
they smirked with ironical, malicious glee at the
ruined planters…. They had ceased to be slaves, but
were not yet wage-earning labourers but only selfsustaining peasants working for their own necessary
consumption [41].

A False Need?

This is what the bulk of the evidence indicates, and there
is virtually none to the contrary. However, the writers I
am criticising are unlikely to be greatly upset by this.

They do not seriously dispute the view that a majority, as
a matter of fact, feel the need for a job. Rather, the
crucial question for them is how this fact is to be
interpreted. For they would argue that the supposed ‘need
to work’ is ultimately a product of the training and moral
conditioning to which we are subjected. It is a ‘false’ and
‘artificial’ need, not a natural one: it is a social and
his tor ical product.

My main purpose so far has been to argue that people
gain real and important fulfilment from work – the need
to work is genuine and real. But by this I do not mean to
imply that this need is an inherent and universal feature
of human nature. Protestantism, no doubt, involves such a
view. It portrays work as the God-given duty and ‘calling’

of mankind. In more contemporary terms, moreover, it is
often argued that human beings are endowed with a unique
creativity, and that this is an essential feature of human
nature which distinguishes us from the rest of animal
creation. Man is ‘homo faber’, the productive species [39].

The socialist view of work has some similarity to these
ideas, it is true. In its Marxist form, however, it differs
fundamentally from them in rejecting the idea of a
universal and eternal human nature. Human nature, for
Marx, develops and changes historically. Human powers
and human needs are a human and social product. In
particular, they are a product of the essential human
activity, labour. ‘By acting on the external world and
Changing it, [man] at the same time changes his own nature’


Through the activity of labour, man develops his powers
and capacities, and creates new needs – including the need
to work. I have been arguing that this is a real and

The same complaints are heard still. Writing in 1961,
the anthropologist Gusinde declares, more in resignation
than in anger,
the Yamana are not capable of continuous daily hard
labour, much to the chagrin of European farmers and
employers for whom they often work. Their work is
more a matter of fits and starts…. Repeated
irregularities of this kind make the European
employer despair, but the Indian cannot help it. It is
his natural disposition [42].

It is absurd to talk of ‘natural dispositions’ in this way,
and to regard these matters in purely moral terms.

Nevertheless, this should not blind us to the real
differences in attitudes to work that such judgements

These differences are strikingly confirmed by numerous
anthropological studies. On the basis of a great deal of
empirical evidence Sahlins, for example, convincingly
refutes the common idea that primitive – hunter and
gatherer – people have to work without cease in the
constant battle to survive, and lack the leisure time
needed to ‘build culture’.

There is nothing ••• to the convention that hunters
and gatherers can enjoy little leisure from tasks of
sheer survival…. The traditional formulas might be
truer if reversed: the amount of work (per capita)
increases with the evolution of culture, and the


amount of leisure decreases [43].

For example, the Arnhem Land aborigines, according to
do not work hard. The average length of time per
·person per day put into the appropriation and
preparation of food was four or five hours.

Moreover, they do not work continuously. The
subsistence quest was highly intermittent. It would
stop for the time being when the people had procured
enough for the time being, which left them plenty of
time to spare [44].

Similar patterns are found among other hunter-gatherer
groups. ‘Reports ••• suggest a mean of three to five hours
per adult worker per day in food production’ [45].

What do these peoples do with their free time?

According to Sahlins, ‘much of the time spared by the
Arnhem Land hunters was literally spare time, consumed
in rest and sleep’ [46]. If such primitive societies fail to
‘build culture’, he concludes, it ‘is not strictly from want
of time. It is from idle hands’ [47]. The choice to avoid
embarking on the path of civilized development, he
suggests, may even be a conscious one: ‘why should we
plant when there are so many mongomongo nuts in the
world?’ ask the Bushmen [48].

Industry and Human Nature
Such attitudes are not confined to ‘other cultures’.

People of pre-industrial Europe shared them. At the
outset of the industrial revolution, working people
strongly resisted the new work discipline required in the
factories; and the early factory owners complained of the
unreliability of their workers in precisely the same terms
as do today’s employers in the Third World. In the textile
mills, for example, ‘on the first introduction of the
business the people were found very ill-disposed to submit
to the long confinement and regular industry required of
them’ [49]. Indeed, the first manufacturers faced not only
technical and mechanical problems; they also had to find
ways of ‘training human beings to renounce their desultory
habits of work and to identify themselves with the
unvarying regularity of the complex automaton’ [50].

Moreover, initially at least, the inducements of higher
wages and piece-rates were ineffective. In the eighteenth
century, the received wisdom had been that ‘the hands
work better the less they are paid’. Payment by results
was an innovation of industrialism, introduced only
gradually as attitudes to work and its rewards changed
[51]. The pre-industrial worker, it seemed, lived with no
care for the morrow: when he had earned sufficient he
‘returned to his village ••• [or] went on a drunken spree’

[52]. As with the Quashees described by Marx, ‘ambitions
to rise above his own idea of a “subsistence” income by dint
of hard work were foreign to him. He had to be made
ambitious and “respectable” •••• For unless the worker
wished to become “respectable” ••• none of the other
incentives would bite’ [53].

The inculcation of Protestant morality, with its
emphasis on the virtues of work, regularity, orderliness,
sobriety and thrift, no doubt played an important part in
changing attitudes to work and its rewards. Likewise,
schooling was a significant factor in training the young in
the habits of the new industrial order. ‘Once within the
school gates,’ as E. P. Thompson says, ‘the child entered
the new universe of disciplined time’ [54]. However, the
role of preaching and schooling should not be overemphasised. While work remained on a domestic and small
workshop scale, such influences had only limited effect.

It was the introduction of large-scale machinery that
made the new discipline imperative and enforced it upon
the workers. This was clear enough to the manufacturers
as their ‘philosopher’, Ure, observes. In a workshop, he
says, ‘when a mantua maker chooses to rise from her seat
and take the fresh air, her seam goes back a 1i ttle, that is
all; there are no other hands waiting on her.’ In a cotton


mill, by contrast, ‘all the machinery is going on, which
they must attend to’. And so, Ure stresses, it was
‘machinery [which] ultimately forced the worker to accept
the discipline of the factory’ [55].

The first factory workers bitterly resisted the new
system; but the system eventually prevailed. The habits
and attitudes it required were gradually accepted and
internalised: human nature was transformed. ‘How
superior in vigour and intelligence are the factory
mechanics in Lancashire ••• to the handicraft artisans of
London,’ exclaims Ure in a typically ecstatic passage [56];
but the same changes were noted by other and more
sceptical observers, including Marx and Engels.

By the standards of industrial society, people from precapitalist societies are ‘unreliable’ and ‘lazy’, they lack
‘discipline’ and ‘energy’. These are facts noted by writers
of the most widely differing moral perspectives. It is not
illuminating to see these matters in moral terms, however;
for what these observations make clear is that attitudes
and habits of work are ultimately a product and a
reflection of the mode of production in which they occur.

In particular, the modern need to work that I have been
describing is a product of the historically developed
conditions of modern industry. The ‘habit of
industr iousness’, as Hegel calls it, is a product of work
itself. ‘Practical education, acquired through working,
consists first in the automatically recurrent need for
something to do and the habit of simply being busy’ [57].

Likewise Marx describes how capitalism in particular
‘drives labour out beyond the limits of its natural needs’


The historical vocation of capital is fulfilled as
soon as, on the one hand, demand has developed to
the point where there is a general need for surplus
labour beyond what is necessary, and surplus labour
itself arises from individual needs; and on the other,
general industriousness has developed (under the
strict discipline of capital) and has been passed on to
succeeding generations, until it has become the
property of the new generation [59].

Rousseau was one of the first modern writers to make
these points. He recognizes and describes with great
insight and originality the way in which our needs – and, in
particular, the modern needs to be sociable, active and
productive – have developed historically. Man ‘in the
state of nature’ – primitive man – he argues, is a creature
of few needs and no concerns beyond them. ‘He desires
only to live and be free from labour…. Civilised man, on
the other hand, is always moving, sweating, toiling, and
racking his brains to find still more laborious occupations’


Primitive man, says Rousseau, is ‘indolent’. However,
he repudiates the moral condemnation usually implied by
that term. He does so by simply reversing the customary
moral judgement. For he regards the ‘laziness’ of earlier
people as the ‘natural’ condition of mankind; and the
modern needs to be busy and productive as ‘artificial’ and
‘false’ needs – harmful and corrupting developments of
human nature.

Sahlins, in common with many other recent writers, is
inclined to take the same view. Thus he warns against
judging the work habits and attitudes of the hunters and
gatherers he describes ‘from the anxious vantage of
European compulsions’ [61]; and he suggests that ‘the more
appropriate deduction from the cultural differences might
have been that Europeans are overworked’ [62].

Such ideas provide the basis for much of the currently
fashionable scepticism about the human value of work.

Gorz’s outlook is similar, as we have seen: for he, too,
argues that the need to work is a false and artificial
creation of modern industrial society. In other, nonindustrial societies we see different – truer and more
natural – attitudes to work; and it is these that provide the
touchstone for his criticisms of the attitudes that I have
been describing.

However, there is another view we can take of these
matters. The developments that I have been describing
provide no basis for the romantic idea of a ‘natural’

attitude to work. Rather, they indicate that, in this area
at least, human nature is social and historical through and
through. Attitudes to work, all attitudes to work – those
of pre-industrial societies justas much as contemporary
ones – are social and historical products. They are
created by and reflect the mode of production in which
they occur. Thus the modern need to work, although it is
undoubtedly a historically developed need, should not be
judged ‘false’ or ‘artificial’ simply for that reason. On
the contrary, it is a real and ineliminable feature of
contemporary psychology. For in the course of the
historical developments that I have been outlining, new
habits, new attitudes, new needs have been created, and
old ones relinquished. Human nature itself has been

The Need for Leisure
As well as needing work, it is clear that we also need
time off work – leisure – both for rest and relaxation, and
also for the pursuit of ~ctivities and needs not fulfilled in
work. Gorz puts strong emphasis on this point. He even
quotes some evidence for it: namely a large European
survey of 1977 which found that a majority (55%) of people
in work, if granted the choice, would prefer a reduction in
their working hours to an increase in wages [63].

Moreover, the reduction of working hours is something for
which working people have long struggled, although it is
important to stress that this has usually been in the
context of the demand for full employment. As Jahoda
says, the labour movement has traditionally taken the
view that ‘leisure hours are a complement to work hours,
not a substitute for them’ [64].

Gorz, by contrast, sees leisure precisely as a desirable
substitute for work. As we have seen, his view is that
work is a coercive necessity and freedom consists in the
‘liberation from work’. In a well known passage, Marx
contrasts the ‘realm of necessity’ (the realm of ‘labour •.•
determined by necessity and mundane considerations’), with
the ‘realm of freedom’ which involves ‘that development
of human energy which is an end in itself’ [65]. Gorz
makes much of this passage. He talks of the autonomous,
creative activities – arts and crafts, hobbies, sports and
recreation – which the liberation from work will allow.

However, his account of this ‘realm of freedom’ is just as
questionable as his account of the psychology of work.

Although he sees well enough that work is a socially
conditioned need, he writes as if autonomous and creative
leisure activities will flourish quite naturally when we
are freed from the coercive need to work. He fails to see
that the desires and needs for these activities are equally
social, and historical products.

No doubt, I will be thought to be misrepresenting Gorz
at this point. After all, he says quite explicitly that a
reduction of work time is not in itself ‘intrinsically
liberatory’, and that it will bring freedom only 1£ there
exists a network of ‘collective facilities’ – community
centres and workshops – and of ‘local, non-market,
col1ective services’, etc. [65a]. What this suggests,
however, is precisely that the need for ‘autonomous’

activity is present naturally – all that is required for it to
flourish are the means – free time and the appropriate
facilities. It is this view that I am questioning.

Mere free time, even with a network of coops and so on,
is something quite different from the realm of freedom as
Marx describes it. The need for the positive and active use
of non-work time is, in fact, a modern phenomenon: it
hardly exists in pre-industrial societies. Rousseau
describes how this ‘natural man’, once he has satisfied his
few basic needs,. simply falls asleep under the nearest
tree. The abundant free time of hunter-gatherers, as we
have seen, involves little that can properly be put under
the heading of the ‘development of human energy as an end
in itself’. The ceremonies and rituals which are often a
well-developed feature of the life of such societies tend
to be as coercively necessary for their members as
mundane labour, and bear little relationship to Gorz’s
‘autonomous creative activity’. Moreover, as E. P.

Thompson writes, popular culture before the industrial
revolution in England was ‘in many ways otiose,
intellectually vacant, devoid of quickening’ [66]. This
conflicts, I know, with the picture of people in preindustrial communities spending long hours in
conversation, in singing and dancing, and in other convivial
pursuits; but we must beware of romanticising these
societies. The truth rather appears to be that their
autonomous non-work activities are desultory and limited,
and not for lack of free time.

The extensive active, free and creative use of non-work
time by working people is a development of modern
industrial society [67]. The growth of public leisure
activities begins in the eighteenth century and ha~
continued steadily until it has become, today, the basis of
huge and still expanding areas of industry. Of course, a
great deal of modern leisure activity involves people
only as consumers, in a passive fashion. The developments
I am describing are still in process: their general
direction, however, is unmistakable.

What these observations indicate is that the ‘realm of
freedom’ is not attained simply by having free time;
although free time is, to be sure, a necessary precondition
for it. Rather, the active and creative use of free time is
a historical development. It is itself a need, the
development of which is gradually transforming non-work
hours from being a time of mere torpor and idleness into a
sphere in which they will be truly be a time of free human
development of the sort envisaged by Marx. In short, the
‘realm of freedom’ is best seen as a development of the
‘realm of necessity’ – its complement and not its mere

The Politics of Work
I have been defending the view that work and leisure are
real and fundamental, though historically developed,
needs in the modern world. These ideas, as I ha ve
stressed, are central to the socialist outlook. However,
they are widely dismissed as conservative attitudes which
have ceased to have any application to contemporary
politics. In conclusion, I will argue that there is no basis
for these charges.

We are frequently told, for example, that the ‘work
ethic’ is in decline, although it is seldom clear just what
this means. However, it seems quite likely that work
attitudes are changing. Young people in particular, it
appears, are becoming more demanding in relation to work:


they are less willing to submit quietly to arbitrary
authority, and they want fulfilment from their work. The
idea that work of whatever kind is a duty and a virtue is
passing – if, indeed, it was ever widespread. However, if
the arguments that I have been giving are at all correct, it
would be wrong to imagine that this is because people are
coming to deny the importance of work in their lives. On
the contrary. The evidence, as I have shown, points in
quite the opposite direction: it demonstrates that people
are coming to regard work no longer as a duty but rather a
need which has become an essential part of human nature.

–Libertarians like Gorz, by contrast, put a very different
interpretation on these developments. They celebrate the
‘demise of the Protestant work ethic’ as proof that people
are at last coming to appreciate that the need for work is
a false and unnatural compulsion produced by modern
society. This is often presented as though it was the most
far-reaching and radical critique of industrial capitalist
society [68]. It is nothing of the kind. Such scepticism
tells people that their desire for work and for fulfilling
work is a delusion, the artificial product of social
conditioning, which they should discard. In effect, in
present circumstances, this is to tell the unemployed to
reconcile themselves to unemployment; it is to tell
alienated and dissatisfied workers to renounce their desire
for fulfilling work as illusory and put up with their lot;
it is to tell women to keep to their domestic ‘place’.

A similar message is expressed in entirely different
terms and from an entirely different quarter: not by
would-be radicals, but by politicians who like to think
that they are facing the current situation in the most hardheaded and realistic terms. The prospect now, in much of
the Western world, is of long-term mass unemployment.

Present government policies, in Britain at least, seem
almost deliberately designed to this end. If the
experience of the thirties is any guide, the recommended
alternative of a programme of Public Works (unless on a
massive scale), while it might do some good, is unlikely to
alter the situation fundamentally. It is a sobering thought
that it was only the policies of “fascism in Germany and
the approach of world war in other countries that lifted
the capitalist world out of the great depression [69].

In this context, we have heard talk (even from some
Trade Union leaders) of ‘training for leisure’, where
‘leisure’ is a euphemism for unemployment. The idea is
that unemployment is inevitable – people must be trained
to accept the fact and adapt to it [70].

It may seem that the view that I have been presenting
gives some encouragement to the idea that people can be
trained to accept unemployment. If the need for work is
socially created, then surely it can be uncreated by
social means – by education, by training? This does not
follow. Indeed, what I am saying is directly opposed to
such views. When I talk of the need to work in modern
society as a real need, and when I stress that it is an
outcome and a product of modern industry, I mean
precisely to deny that it is a product simply of education,
or that it is a purely ideological phenomenon. On the
contrary, it is a need which arises out of the most basic
material conditions of modern society, and which cannot
therefore be altered by the methods of indoctrination

Socialism and Work
The need for work, and the need for leisure too, I am
arguing, is ultimately an aspect and an expression of the
development of modern industry – it is a product of the
productive forces. These have developed within the
framework of capitalist relations of production.

Increasingly, however, the development of industry is
coming into collision and conflict with these relations of
production. ‘From forms of development of the productive
forces these relations turn into their fetters’ [71].

These conflicts and contradictions have never been
more clearly apparent. The gigantic forces of production


developed by modern society lie underused and even idle:

not only factories and machinery but, even more
importantly, people – millions of men and women with
their socially developed habits and skills. And not
because there are no needs that they could be employed to
meet, but because the capitalist system is incapable of
mobilising and employing them. Even when they are
employed, as Marx says,
everything seems pregnant with its contrary.

Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of
shortening and fructifying human labour, we behold
starving and overworking it. The new fangled
sources of wealth, by some weird spell, are turned
into sources of want…. All our inventions and
progress seem to result in endowing material forces
with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life
into a material force. This antagonism between
modern industry and science on the one hand, modern
misery and dissolution on the other hand; this
antagonism between the productive powers and the
social relations of our epoch is a fact, palpable,
overwhelming, and not to be controverted [72].

The productive potentiality of modern industry is
immense, and so is its potentiality for human liberation.

In a rationally and humanely organised society, it could
be used not only to meet the real needs of the most basic
kinds – the real poverty and want which still exist, even
in the most economically advanced societies; but also to
create more humane conditions of work, including a
reduction of the working day. But such statements are
likely to arouse scepticism in many quarters. For people
are fearful and apprehensive of the productive power of
modern industry, and inclined to reject such views as
naively ‘productivist’ ones [73].

To this charge socialism must plead guilty, for it is
quite avowedly a ‘productivist’ philosophy – not in the
sense that it recommends production simply for the sake of
production, but in the sense that it regards production as
‘man’s essential activity’ and as a primary human and
social value. Its fundamental criticism of capitalism
follows from this. Capitalism is no longer able
effectively to employ the productive forces – the means of
production and the labour power – which it itself has
brought into being. It is not able to meet the needs including the needs for fulfilling work and leisure which it itself has created. What socialism demands,
therefore, is not the liberation of people from work capitalism is already doing that all too successfully by
throwing millions on to the dole – but rather the
liberation of work, of the productive forces (including
people), from the stultifying confines of the capitalist

As for what a possible future society may hold in store,
we have learned to be cautious and sceptical of utopian
visions. The problems of ‘actually existing’ socialist
societies are a sufficient warning. Marx, too, was notably
restrained when it came to ‘dreaming up recipes for the
cookshops of the future’. In one of his few attempts to
envisage the character of a future communist society, he
talks of labour becoming ‘life’s prime want’ [74]. This has
often been dismissed as one of his more utopian and
fantastic ideas. But is it really so? The arguments that I


have been presenting raise this question – and not only on
the basis of what can be envisaged for an ideal future, but
on the basis of what we can see in the present.

According to Lenin,
the feudal organisation of social labour rested on
the discipline of the bludgeon, while the working
people, robbed and tyrannised by a handful of
landowners, were utterly ignorant and downtrodden.

The capitalist organisation of. social labour rested
on the discipline of hunger…. The communist
organisation of social labour ••• rests ••• on the free
and conscious discipline of the working people
themsel ves who have thrown off the yoke both of the
landowners and the capitalists. This new discipline
does not drop from the skies, nor is it born from pious
wishes, it grows out of the material conditions of
large-scale capitalist production, and out of them
alone [75].

Lenin was writing in 1920, when Russia was still
predominantly a peasant-based agricultural society. His
words must have seemed as utopian and as distant from
reality as Marx’s [76].

If today, in our society, they still seem so it is for
different reasons. We live in a capitalist society, based
upon large-scale industry. For most people in our society,
work is in many respects an alienating and oppressive
experience. The spur that drives them to it may no longer
be the threat of hunger as such, but certainly the threat of
serious material deprivation plays its part [77]. There is
no question but that there are material incentives to work.

And yet, the evidence, I have been arguing, shows that
work (at least of any but the most repulsive and degrading
sort) is also now felt subjectively as a need. It may not
yet be ‘life’s prime want’, but it is a vital want, a need,
nevertheless. So far from being a utopian dream, Marx’s
vision is increasingly becoming a fact of modern
psychology. That is to say, the subjective conditions for a
more satisfactory and rational organisation of the work of
society are developing here and now. What is lacking is
the objective framework of economic and social relations,
and the objective organisation of work, which would allow
this need to be satisfied.










B. RusselI, l!! Praise .2! Idleness and Other Essays, London, 1935.

D. liume, Enquiries, Oxford, 1894, p. 183.

M. Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment in the 1930s and the 1970s’,
Bulletin .2! the British Psychological Society, vol. 32, 1979, p. 311.

R. Kahn, quoted in Department of Health, Education and Welfare
Report, ~ork ~ ~merica, Cambridge, Mass., 1973, p. 15.

~ork ~ ~merica, p. 9.

Results from Britain are similar; see M.

Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment’, pp. 311-12.

M. Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment’, p. 312.

Ibid., p. 309.

Summaries of such evidence can be found in Work in America; M.

Jahoda, ~~ployment and Unemploym~ Cambridge~1982; and J.

Hayes and P. Nutman, Understanding the Unemployed, London, 1981.

Work in America, p. 4.

K:Marx, Capital, vol. I, Moscow, 1961, p. 645.

H•. Ilraverman, Labour and ~onopoly_ Capital, New York, 1974.

For example, S. Terkel, ~orking, New York, 1975; R. Fraser (ed.),
Work, Harmondsworth, 1968; M. Haraszti, Worker in a Worker’s State,
Harmondsworth, 1977.

— – – —- –‘The Old workhouse morality seems to have eroded. Wildcat strikes,
riots, occupations, absenteeism and indiscipline broke out in a world
plague in the late 1960s’, according to A. Ski lIen, Ruling Illusions,
Brighton, 1977, p. 60. The same view is expressed more cautiously in
~ork ~ ~!!lerica, ‘in some industries there apparently is a rise in
absenteeism, sabotage and turnover rates’ (p. 1I).

J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses, London, 1973, p.


K. Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of ~, New York,
1964, pp. 1l0-lI.

K. Marx and F. Engels, The German Ideology, Part I, New York, 1978,

K. Marx, Grundrisse (selections), ed. D. McLelIan, St. Albans, 1973, p.


A. Skillen, Ruling Illusions, pp. 68-69. See also V. Vroom and E. Deci
(eds.), ~~ement and ~otivation, Harmondsworth, 1970.

M. Jahoda, Employment and Unemployment, pp. 22ff; J. Hayes and P.

Nutman, Understanding the Unemployed, pp. 40-41.

K. Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts .2! 1844, p. 114.

Work in America, p. 4.

J.Hayes and P. Nutman, Understanding the Unemployed, p. ’13.

K. Marx, Capital, vol. I, p. 505.

J. Hayes and P. Nutman, Understanding the Unemployed, p. 42.

M. Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment’, p. 313.

M. Benson, ‘The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation’, in M.

Evans (ed.), The Woman Question, London, 1982, p. 195.

M. Stacey, quoted in~Wilson, Q!!!r Halfway ~ Paradise, London,

J. Sayers, ‘A Woman’s Work … ‘ Social ~ork Today, vol. 8, no. 12,
December 1976, pp. 12-13.

B. Friedan, The Feminine ~ystique, New York, 1963, ch. 1.

A. Gorz, Farewell ~ the ~orking Class, London, 1982; and Paths ~
Paradise: On the Liberation from Work, London, 1984.

This view isfamiliar in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, who
both write from the point of view of slave owners in a society based
upon slavery. However, these attitudes are echoed in more recent
writing: see, e.g., J. S. Mill, Utilitarianism, and S. Sayers, ‘Higher and
Lower Pleasures’, in B. Lang et al. (eds.5, The Philosopher in the
Community, Lanham, Md, pp. ITi=29; and aiSOH. Arendt, The Human
~ondition, Chicago, 1958. An important strand of medievalSocia-lthought about work tended to portray it as an unwanted necessity: the






curse to which mankind was subjected at the time of the Fall.

However, there are also other and more positive aspects to this
tradition. It is perhaps too simple to suggest, like P. D. Anthony (The
Ideology .2! ~ork, London, 1978), that ‘the ideology of work’ is a
distinctively modern phenomenon which emerges only with
Protestantism; but there are surely some grounds for the view that
work is given a distinctive moral emphasis in the modern era.

Classic accounts are M. Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit .2!

~apitalism, New York, 1958, and R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise
.2! Capitalism, London, 1926. I have found particularly helpful C.

Hill’s brief discussion in Society and Puritanism ~ Pre-Revolutionary
England, chs. 4, 15.

C. Hill, Society and Puritanism, p. 130.

Ibid., p. 135.

Ibid., p. 140.

Work in America, p. 10.

M:-Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment’, p. 309. See also M. Jahoda,
P. Lazarsfeld and H. Zeisel, Marienthal: The Sociography .2! an
Unemployed Community, London, 1972.

M. Jahoda, ‘The Impact of Unemployment,’ p. 313. Elsewhere Jahoda
also notes that ‘even with all their material and educational
advantages, some academics, freed for a year from their regular time
structure, flounder and feel lost’ (Employment and Unemployment, p.


See R. Norman, The ~!?ral Philosophers, Oxford, 1984, chs. 8-9, for a
brief and clear presentation of these ideas in a philosophical context.

K. Marx, Capital, vol. I, p. 177.

K. Marx, Grundrisse, p. 101.

Quoted by M. Sahlins, Stone ~~ Economics, London, 1974, p. 28. The
Yamana are a group of South American hunters. Similar complaints
were made about newly recruited Mexican mineworkers at the
beginning of this century. ‘His lack of initiative, inability to save,
absences while celebrating too many holidays, willingness to work
only three or four days a week if that paid for necessities, insatiable
desire for alcohol – all were pointed out as proof of a natural
inferiority’ (quoted in E. P. Thompson, ‘Time, Work-discipline and
Industrial Capitalism’, Past and Present, no. 38, 1967, p. 91.

M. Sahlins, Stone ~ Economics, p. 35.

Ibid., p. 17.

Ibid., p. 35.

Ibid., p. 19.

Ibid., p. 20.

Quoted, ibid., p. 27.

Quoted!lYS. Pollard, The Genesis .2! ~odern Management, London,
1965, p. 161.

A. Ure, The Philosophy .2! Manufactures, London, 1835, p. 15.

S. Pollard, p. 191. See also E. P. Thompson, The ~aking .2! the
English ~orking Class, Harmondsworth, revised edition, 1980, p. 393.

E. P. Thompson, The ~aking .2! the English ~orking Class, pp. 392-93.

S. Pollard, The Genesis .2! ~odern Management, p. 195.

E. P. Thompson, ‘Time, Work-discipline and Industrial Capitalism’, p.


Quoted by S. Pollard, The Genesis .2! ~odern Management, p. 184.

A. Ure, The Philosophy .2! Manufacture, p. 23.

G. Hegel, Philosophy .2! Right, Oxford, 1952, p. 129.

K. Marx, Grundrisse, p. 101.

Ibid., p. 100.

“‘f.”J. Rousseau, Social Contract, p. 104.

M. Sahlins, Stone ~ Economics, p. 63.

Ibid., p• .51.



A. Gorz, Farewell .!2. the ~orking Class, p. 140.

M. Jahoda, ~~ployment and Unemployment, p. 24.


K. Marx, Capital, vol. Ill, Moscow, 1971, p. 820.

A. Gorz, Paths to Paradise, pp. 103-4.

E. P. Thompson~Time, Work-discipline and Industrial Capitalism’, p.


See H. Cunningham, Leisure i!! the Industrial Revolution, London, 1980;
and T. Burns, ‘Leisure in Industrial Society’, in S. Parker ~ ~ Leisure
and Society i!! Britain, London, 1973.

As well as Gorz passim, see also P. Willis, Learning .!2. Labour,
Farnborough, 1977, and P. D. Anthony, The Ideology ~ ~ork.

M. Stewart, ~eynes and After, Harmondsworth, 2nd edition, 1972.

C. Jenkins and B. Sherman, The Collapse ~ ~ork, London, 1979.

K. Marx, ‘Preface [18.59]’, in Selected ~~ vol. I, Moscow, 19.58, p.


K. Marx, ‘Speech at the Anniversary of the People’s Paper’, in
Selected ~~ vol. I, p. 39.



See e.g., A. Gorz, Farewell .!2. the ~orking Class, p. 33.

K. Marx, ~ritique ~ the Gotha Program~ in Selected ~~ vol. 11,
Moscow, 1961, p. 2.5.

V. I. Lenin, ‘A Great Beginning’, Selected ~orks i!! Three Volumes,
vol. Ill, Moscow, 197.5, p. 171.

Lenin was well aware of this. ‘It must be clear to everybody,’ he
wrote, ‘that we, i.e. our society, our social system, are still a very
long way from the application of this (i.e. the communist) form of
labour on a broad, really mass scale…. It will take many years,
decades, to create a new labour -discipline, new forms of social ties
between people, and new forms and methods of drawing people into
labour’ (‘From the Destruction of the Old Social System to the
Creation of the New’, Selected ~~ vol. Ill, p. 289).

As I write, the government is (yet again) contemplating ways of cutting
social security payments, in order ‘to force the unemployed to take
any low paid job on offer’ (The Sunday Times, 17 February 198.5, p. I).

A conference sponsored by Free Association Books
and North East London Polytechnic
Friday and Saturday 16-17 October 1987, at the North East London
Polytechnic Conference Centre, Duncan House, High Street Stratford,

Plenaries and workshops; lunches and refreshments, Friday evening
social. Topics to include racism and ethnicity; welfare, health and
dependency; feminism and gender; theories of need; war;
psychotherapy in social context; individualism; socialism; AIDS;
psychohistory; science; film.

Speakers and participants will be practitioners and academics from
Britain, Europe and the United States.

Fee: £27.50 (£15.00 students and unwaged). Registration forms from
Barry Richards (pS Conference), Dept. of Sociology, North East
London Polytechnic, Livingstone Road, London E 15 2LL.

01-590-7722 X 5013/5035.

The New International Review
Winter, 1987 Issue
• Eric Lee and Alex Spinrad on
“Technology and the Left”

• A special
interview with Ken
former head of
Greater London Council and a leader
of the British Labour Party Left.

Reuther’s socialism.



• Moshe Matsuba on-“Communes and
Kibbutzim in Japan”.

To receive this issue by airmail,
send $3.00 to:

NIR, Box 2126, Afula,




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