Afterthoughts on the Abolition of Work

This is Chapter 9 of Instead of Work (Berkeley, CA: LBC Books, 2015), which was written in 2015 and now is slightly revised. The references in brackets, such as [IV], refer to other chapters of the book.

The dawn of civilization was the dawn of work. In southern Mesopotamia (Iraq), almost 6,000 years ago, “elites came to view and use fully encumbered laborers in the same exploitative way that human societies, over the immediately preceding millennia, had viewed and used the labor of domesticated animals. This represents a new paradigm of social relations in human societies.”1) It’s time for a new paradigm. Buddy, can youse paradigm?2)

I’ve been writing about (and against) work, on and off, for 30 years. Somewhat to my dismay, the abolition of work is still the idea that I am most often associated with. My original essay [I] has been reprinted many times, and translated into at least 15 languages, including Esperanto. It is even briefly excerpted in a Canadian textbook on industrial relations!3) That’s more attention than I’ve received in most of the anarchist press. Even the Wall Street Journal published a lobotomized version of “No Future for the Workplace” [IV].4)

I wish that my ideas about social order and dispute resolution under anarchy received more attention.5) I wish that my ideas about a post-left anarchism, which are widely shared, received more attention.6) I wish that my critiques of anarchist celebrities who aren’t anarchists at all, such as Murray Bookchin and Noam Chomsky (others have noticed this too), received more attention.7) Most of what little now remains of the anarchist periodical press8) doesn’t publish me, nor does it review my books or refer to my writings. Their loss as much as mine. A lot of anarchists need some smartening up.9) If anarchism is a room, I am the elephant in that room.

However, I have always insisted that my critique of work, like my critique of democracy,10) is not addressed only to anarchists. It would be pretty useless if it were. Work is more important than anything the anarchists are complaining about, except – possibly – the state. But they rarely complain about the state any more. It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of work in the lives of everybody, although, I may have done so, when I wrote [I]: “Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world.” And yet, in the 19th century, Paul Lafargue – son in law of Karl Marx! – could write this: “All individual and social misery is born of the passion for work.”11) My anti-work writings are addressed to everybody, but especially to everybody who works, or who wants to work, or who doesn’t want to work. That includes just about everybody. I would like more people to consider my critique of work – people who are not anarchists, Marxists, liberals, or any other kind of ideologue.

I have never lost interest in the subject of work. The essays collected in this book, in more or less chronological order, demonstrate my ongoing interest. Whether they also demonstrate any improvement in my critique of work, is for the reader to decide. Rereading them has given me a lot to think about. It has also encouraged me to do a lot of other reading and some rereading. Frankly, I think that, in general, I got it right the first time. I stand by every idea about work in “The Abolition of Work” and in my subsequent writings. Usually, I prudently refrained from prophecy. But there are some points which require clarification, such as the meaning of “leisure.”

I have received a little ridicule, but very little serious criticism. The major critiques, one from the right and one from the left, are debunked here [III & VIII]. Hopefully this book will provoke a fresh round of rash criticism for me to annihilate. I just love to do that.

This is from Bertrand Russell: “First of all, what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other matter; second, telling other people to do so.” He adds: “The first kind is unpleasant and ill-paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.”12) Although one academic mistook this for a definition of work, it is actually just a witty way of criticizing work.

Debating definitions is always boring, and “’Work’ is harder to define than you might think.”13) My original definitions of work (a short version and a long version) [I] were intended only to cover what I consider work and what most people consider to be work. Nothing fancy. Work includes servile labor – chattel slavery, serfdom, indentured servitude, and peonage – although these forms of labor are absent in modern industrial and so-called post-industrial societies. It includes work for wages or a salary. It includes much, maybe nearly all self-employment and contract work – contract work, especially, being nowadays often disguised wage-labor. Work includes housework, paid or unpaid. The fact that my critique is equally applicable to slavery, wage-labor and housework should embarrass believers in work.

Whether work includes schooling, is an important issue which I will continue to neglect, aside from pointing out again [I] that much schooling is work-related. It consists (sometimes) of vocational training or, minimally, training in pre-work practices such as showing up on time, subjection to the clock, sitting still for almost an hour at a time, and acquiring minimal reading and arithmetic skills. After all, “employers’ most common and general rules have to do with regular attendance and being on time.”14) Apparently schooling doesn’t do even that very much anymore. School is mainly daycare and preventive detention.

In primitive societies and in many utopias, just as work can hardly be distinguished from play, the education of children can hardly be distinguished from play. Children observe work, imitate work, and gradually begin to work. Ivan Illich identified students’ cramming for finals as “shadow work,” because it is unpaid and rarely done for the fun of it.15) In the feminist utopia Herland, “it was all education but no schooling.” Education there consists of playing games.16) In Restif de la Bretonne’s 18th century utopia, “work is almost a game and games are forms of education.”17) The advocates of learning-by-doing, such as John Dewey and Maria Montessori, are correct as far as they go. But they fall short of the utopians for whom education was not just a preparation for life, it is integrated into life. This idea is at least as old as Thomas More’s Utopia.18) Few schools practice what Dewey, Montessori and A.S. Neill preached.

Whether or not my definitions completely succeed in covering all my enumerated types of labor, my objective is to identify, as work, all the activities to which my critique of work applies. I have never claimed that every one of my criticisms of work applies to every work situation. For instance, not all work is unhealthy or monotonous, and not every worker works long hours. But whether I am talking about lack of autonomy (being bossed and supervised), lack of privacy (cubicles, surveillance and snitches), lack of creativity, boring and repetitious work, lack of variety in work, unsafe work, painful work, underpaid work, unpaid work, or just too much God damn work, most of these criticisms are more or less applicable to everything I call work. So, no quibbling, please. Work is too important to be trifled with. Call it what you please, for your own purposes, but, if you discuss my ideas, you have to use the words the way I do.

I’ve also used words such as leisure and play. The abolition of work certainly implicates leisure and play. I don’t think that I’ve misused these words, but, I haven’t always used them precisely. From my recent reading, I know that nobody is using these words precisely or consistently. Thus I am going to discuss more explicitly what I mean by leisure and play, insofar as I contrast them with work. I am still inclined to largely ignore certain degradations of leisure and play such as recreation19) and sport. I think they lead us away from the central question, which is whether the satisfactions of recreation and sport (satisfactions which are taken for granted) are only after-work diversions, or whether there is something about them which might be incorporated into work itself. If that could be done, the result might not be work at all.

Then there is free time, which is not necessarily idle time. You might or might not be doing something during your free time. One writer refers to “subsistence activities,” which include certain uncompensated but necessary activities – such as “the minimums of sleeping, eating, and related activities like cooking and shopping.”20) But while “No one should ever work” [I] might, after some explaining, make some sense to some people, “No one should ever poop” does not. One might identify these activities as work, as has been done,21) but I would distinguish biological functions from cooking, shopping, and commuting, which are shadow work. Cooking and eating are activities which have great ludic potential: but cooking can be a job and eating can be just refueling. Sex can be done for pleasure or, as the Catholic Church advocates, for making Catholic babies. For Charles Fourier, whose meals were usually the poor fare of a traveling salesman, “Harmony” was a society where people enjoyed five meals a day in good company.22) In Thomas More’s Utopia and many others, including William Morris’ News from Nowhere, meals are core social occasions.23) I can relate to that. But in a work-dominated society, “any time after work is ‘free,’ but even that time, if work must be clocked, is work-bound.”24)

My critics hitherto have been simple-minded, or pretended to be. First I define work and play as antitheses: then (they wail) I call for their synthesis! A Hegelian dialectician would take that in stride, but, I don’t require dialectical acrobatics to be understood. If I did, I wouldn’t understand myself either. In terms of Scholastic logic, work and play are contraries but not contradictories. They are different but not necessarily opposed, unless by definitional fiat. Right from the start I’ve identified several predecessors – especially Charles Fourier and William Morris – who were saying substantially what I am saying, but in their own words. To put it another way, I am saying substantially what they were saying, but in my own words. Anything worth saying should be sayable, and is best said, in multiple ways. Like the Situationists, my goal is simply “replacing work with a new type of free activity; …”25) We can worry about what to call it, after we live it.

Since 1985, I have come across more and more versions of the idea which is central to my thesis: the possibility of the abolition of work by replacing it with generalized productive play. I’m not going to amass the citations here. But, as an illustration, here is something from an unexpected source: the Pragmatist philosopher and educator, John Dewey. He was a pillar of the intellectual Establishment, and a moderate socialist – although he didn’t go out of his way to say so. He is so respectable that one or two of his books are still in the curriculum for education majors, including a book (originally published in 1916) which I now quote: “Work is psychologically simply an activity which consciously includes regard for consequences as part of itself; it becomes constrained labor when the consequences are outside of the activity, as an end to which activity is merely a means. Work which remains permeated with the play attitude is art.”26)

I continue to reject definitions of play, such as those of Johan Huizinga and Adriano Tilgher,27) which exclude by fiat the possibility of productive play. The dictionary definitions are much broader.28) Tilgher went so far as to say: “There is something else in play than action for the mere pleasure of action. Play – if it is real play – always has something of triviality about it. Play is not serious, there can be no passion about it.”29) Huizinga at least understood that play can be serious.30) Only someone who has never seen children at play could say that play is never serious [I]. Only someone who has never played, or who has forgotten what play is like, could say that. Plenty of work has “no passion about it.” There can be, obviously, productive play – there are weekend hunters, fishers, gardeners, and successful poker players. I am not going to let definitions get in the way of what I say, especially definitions which are wrong.

I have previously quoted [I] the Romantic poet Friedrich Schiller: “The animal works when deprivation is the mainstream of its activity, and it plays when the fullness of its strength is its mainstream, when superabundant life is its own stimulus to activity.”31) For Schiller, man has a twofold nature: a “pure intellect” (Reason) in the world of the mind, and an “empirical intellect” (Nature) in the world of sense experience.32) They are reconciled, and man fully becomes all that he is, in play: “So the play impulse, in which both combine to function, will compel the mind at once morally and physically; it will therefore, since it annuls all mere chance, annul all compulsion too, and set man free both physically and morally.”33) He called for “replacing work with pleasure, exertion with relaxation, activity with passivity.” He thought that, through the intermediation of beauty, play is transformed into seriousness, and seriousness is transformed into play.”34) Schiller’s language is a bit flowery for modern tastes, and sometimes obscure, but at least one of his points is well-taken. It has practical implications. As Charles Fourier wrote: “Our pleasures have no connection with industry, and are consequently unproductive; whereas in the combined order they will be connected with productive industry, which will itself be a succession of pleasures, when rendered attractive.”35) The synthesis of work (production of useful output) and play (activity for its own sake) is what I call the abolition of work [III].

Here is a quick summary of the distinctions. What work and play have in common is that they are activities, whereas leisure (my next topic) is a period of time. What play and leisure have in common is that they are voluntary, whereas work is not. Of these three, work is by definition productive; play is not necessarily productive or unproductive; and leisure is by definition unproductive, because it is not an activity. “Leisure” is short for leisure time. Or, leisure time may be used in productive or unproductive activities, or merely allowed to pass (this is idleness36)). To put it another way: “At some point, less work plus better work ends up as activity it no longer makes sense to call work at all, although it furnishes the means of life.”37)

It was my good fortune that in 1985 I was largely ignorant of the immense academic literature on work, play and leisure. Had I examined very many of those trees, I might never have noticed the forest.

Leisure is a period of time in which one does not work, although not all time in which one does not work is leisure. The Greek and Latin words for “work” are negative terms, “non-leisure.”38) Thus the words work and leisure are antonyms, whereas the words work and play are not. As such, leisure is a “residual” category — it is “free time,” in the sense of being some of the time that remains when working time is subtracted. But people are not at leisure when they are sleeping or commuting.39) A more useful definition would exclude biological functions and also activities which are immediately undertaken in the furtherance of work, such as commuting or the coffee break – if there is still such a thing as a coffee break.

Work is something you have to do, but not everything you have to do is work. The original meaning of leisure was time apart from work: “The term leisure comes from the Latin licere, meaning ‘to be permitted,’ and is defined in the modern dictionary as ‘freedom from occupation, employment, or engagement.”40) That was the classical understanding. Aristotle (he tells us) “believed that happiness depends on leisure, because we occupy ourselves so that we have leisure …”41) Mechanics, slaves, freed slaves, foreigners, women and children are not to be admitted to citizenship: “The necessary people are either slaves who minister to the wants of individuals, or mechanics and labourers who are the servants of the community … for no man can practice excellence who is living the life of a mechanic or labourer.”42)

For Aristotle and his class, leisure was not, as we think of it, time after work. There was no such time for them, because they didn’t work. For Aristotle, everything in the universe had a purpose or an innate tendency: a goal. The purpose of leisure was, broadly speaking, happiness: the happiness of the cultivated few. It was time to be devoted to civic duties but, above all, to philosophy and contemplation. This must have had a particular appeal for Aristotle because, unlike Plato, he was not an Athenian citizen. He had no civic duties.

There is still a current of traditional thought which carries on the idea that leisure has a purpose: a higher purpose than work, certainly,43) and something higher than television, gaming, texting and spectator sports. Leisure is said to be the basis of culture. But the prevalent understanding is still what I wrote in 1985 [I]: “Leisure is nonwork for the sake of work.” It’s also true that some leisure-time behavior “may be, in part, a response to social pressure or powerful inner drives, and may not therefore be a preferred form of behavior.”44) (Among other reasons.) But that does not help to define leisure, as the same thing might be said of work, play, and almost any social activity. It is also idle to complain: “To look upon leisure only as a respite from work is never to discover its full potential.”45) This is a tacit admission that, in fact, leisure is only a respite from work. Leisure’s full potential is realized only when leisure is realized and suppressed.

As we shall see, working hours have increased – and therefore leisure time has decreased – for over 60 years in the United States. Leisure in the modern sense has to be, first, rest – a respite from work – otherwise the worker is in no condition to do much of anything. There may be no time left over for anything else except passive consuming. After a certain point – which most workers have surely reached – according to Max Weber, “one does not work in order to live, but one lives for the sake of one’s work.”46)

It is difficult to believe, but, for many years, intellectuals, such as academics and clergymen, as well as politicians and businessmen, considered leisure (not their own, of course) to be a social problem. Working hours did fall from 1900 to 1920, and more slowly in the 1920’s, and at a faster rate in the 1930’s, slipping below 35 hours a week.47) Hence books from prestigious publishers with titles like The Problem of Leisure and The Threat of Leisure.48) Incredibly, as late as 1960 or so, “aside from the thoughts of a few stray persons, all see the ‘leisure problem’ narrowly, as too much, badly spent time.”49) As late as 1963, a book could be published with the absurd title The Challenge of Leisure. There exists an excellent recent survey of theories of “the leisure society” – aptly said to be “elusive” – from the last decade of the 19th century to the first decade of the 21st.50)

But in the 1950’s, working hours were going up, as they have continued to do ever since. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, when the cause of shorter hours was still a major political issue, the fear was that, by increased leisure time, the working classes would be debauched and demoralized. The workers should be kept busy working for their own good and, incidentally, for the good of the bourgeoisie. These same gentry had, through Prohibition, already eliminated the working man’s solace and social center – the saloon – and television had not yet come along to occupy his leisure hours. “Recreation” was the proposed solution, or part of it, as in addition to the provision of edifying cultural pursuits: but the better sort of people was not very optimistic about these stratagems.

In a previous, parallel development, in Britain, “in the late 1820s and 1830s quite a number of [middle class] people began to perceive working-class leisure as a problem, and to think of the expansion of rational recreational ideals from their own ranks.”51) The idea was to accomplish class conciliation by the reform of leisure. It failed. Class consciousness persisted.52) It is interesting that this reform cause arose in Britain, as later in America, 40 or 50 years into their respective Industrial Revolutions. That was just when, in both countries, a substantial minority of the working class had achieved shorter hours (hence more leisure) and higher wages (hence more money for leisure activities) – while at the same time, work was intensified and deskilled. Work became more like work and less like play. Workers were encouraged to find satisfaction, not in their work, but after work. But even leisure was potentially troublesome.53)

Many commentators used to assert that leisure is one of the most important issues facing society in the coming decades. But, the decades came and went, yet it is still the case that leisure is not a central issue in “live politics.”54) It’s not a political issue at all.

Now I do think that one constructive use of increased leisure time would be – not to use it at all, but rather to “treasure the pleasure of torpor” [I]. I am all for the joy of loafing. Relaxed, well-rested people are sane, peaceful, sociable, happy, healthy people, even if they don’t do a lick of work or even watch the History Channel.55) I’ve been reading a lot of utopias lately. I was struck by the fact that in several of them, one of their greatest asserted advantages was that people were no longer in a hurry.56) William Morris, who was working himself to death agitating for socialism, subtitled his utopia “An Epoch of Rest.” Work worth doing, he wrote elsewhere, has several characteristics, but he “put the hope of rest first because it is the simplest and most natural part of our hope.”57) I would not be unduly upset if, with increased leisure, workers mostly did not attend lectures on foreign trade, or take courses in basket weaving, or volunteer at the food co-op, or join study groups reading the World’s Great Books. I think that, sooner or later, some workers will do some of these things, but, what they do with their leisure time is none of my business or anybody else’s.

None of those anxious about what workers would do with more leisure time ever intimated that they themselves would fritter away their own leisure time – if they had even more of it – on drinking, or going to the cinema, or going to the track. Curiously, they never worried that those other people might fritter away their time in the ways they wasted a little of their own, such as attending church. I suspect that there were deeper, unspoken anxieties: such as that people would have sex more often, and enjoy it more. Or, they might just sit down and think things over. But there’s no danger of that any more. Our society has not moved at all toward the abolition of work. But it is taking mighty strides toward the abolition of leisure.

The large academic literature on work, play, leisure, recreation, sport, etc. is distinguished only in being undistinguished. Long ago (by which I mean, over 50 years ago), a few eminent social scientists – David Riesman, Daniel Bell, C. Wright Mills – said some important things about work and its discontents. They all leaned left, at the time, in their politics, at a time when it was not fashionable to lean left, not even a little. They even called for a revival of utopian thinking58) – not realizing, just before the 1960’s, what they were getting themselves into. Currently, prominent social scientists seem to have abandoned the field, although, I admit that I’m not really current on prominent social scientists. I am pretty sure that they are not again calling for a revival of utopian thinking. The burnt child avoideth the fire.

But, especially starting in the 1970’s, leisure, play, recreation, and even sport – I might say, especially sport – have been academic growth industries. Entire academic journals are devoted to these quotidian topics: Society and Leisure, Journal of Leisure Research, Play and Culture Studies, International Review of Sport Studies, etc. There exists a North American Society for Sociology of Sport. There are frequent conferences, and many books. It is, after all, easier and more pleasant to study golfers or Little League baseball than migrant workers, prisoners, or housewives. A French Maoist gym teacher wrote a Structuralist critique of sport.59) Postmodernists have deconstructed the history of sport.60) They should deconstruct each other.

However, these scholars are, at their best, mediocre. They publish the kind of social research which C. Wright Mills condemned as “abstracted empiricism.”61) One study (1979), for example, based on survey research, discovered that most workers report that most of them would not work if they didn’t have to (55%, in that survey). 47% also report that they express their talents more in leisure than at work.62) No kidding! Other research suggests that the owners of the means of production may have higher incomes than their employees . . . These findings are only slightly more informative than the scientific law announced by The Firesign Theatre: “If you push something hard enough, it falls over.”

It is these academic scribblers who quibble about the meaning of words and phrases like work, play, leisure, recreation, sport, free time, idleness, etc.63) They are tenured, or aspire to tenure, at notable centers of learning such as – to mention only where the sport professors disport themselves – the University of New Haven, Brighton Polytechnic, the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, Illinois Wesleyan University, the State University of New York at Fredonia,64) Curtin University of Technology, the University of Northern Colorado, and Loughborough University.

These scholars know even less about work than do undergraduate anthropology majors. They may even know less about work than do undergraduate economics majors, although, that is a harsh judgment which I am reluctant to pass prematurely. Still I have to agree Ivan Illich that “economists know as much about work as alchemists know about gold.”65) Long ago, economists such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill and Thorstein Veblen knew something about work besides its being one of the factors of production. Generally, the academics devise distinctions which aren’t always obviously relevant even to their own low-range theorizing. But they have made me think more carefully about leisure. They need to think more carefully about work.

I now reconsider some of the points I’ve made – or rather, scored – over the years. Let the games begin!

What better place to begin than before the beginning – before work? I’ve already discussed what I mean by the phrase “primitive affluence” in [I], [II] and [III]. Many cultures, including our own, have myths about a work-free Golden Age in the timeless past, or in an undiscovered country. One of them, from medieval Europe, is the dream of a Land of Cockaigne, where rivers flow with beer and wine, the mugs and glasses “come on their own,” houses are made of food, wheat fields are fenced with “roast meat and ham,” people have sex in the street if they feel like it, they have eternal youth, and “he who sleeps most earns most.”66) Some have speculated that these myths and fantasies are based on remnants of folk memories. I doubt it. These are just the dreams of tired and hungry people. But there is ample source evidence of primitive affluence in ethnographies, the reports of explorers and travelers, historical records, and even from archaeology.

I refer to what Murray Bookchin, in his sagacity, called “the preposterous theory of an ‘original affluent society.’”67) Even a critic of the theory admitted that it “appears to have carried the day and has come to represent the new enlightened view of hunting-gathering societies.”68) It appears in textbooks.69) I’ve reviewed the literature in several places.70) Richard Borshay Lee’s monograph on the San (Bushmen) remains the most thorough quantitative study of hunter-gather subsistence.71) Other San ethnographies confirm his conclusions.72) So do studies of other peoples. In East Africa, the Hadza spend less than two hours a day gathering food; the men spend more time gambling than working. They explain that they do not like hard work.73) They are surrounded (“encapsulated”) by farmers. They refrain from agriculture by choice. Another such society is the Guayaki Indians of Paraguay.74) Abundance and leisure were the norm in pre-contact Australia.75) In the Philippines, the Manobo, who practice shifting cultivation, work 4-5 hours a day. There are two months when they do not work at all.76) Even sub-Arctic Indians in Canada led an affluent life, easily meeting their basic needs.77) The original affluent society thesis is generally taken for granted in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunter-Gatherers.78)

I have only just come upon a monograph on the Monobo tribesmen of Mindanao, Philippines. The author, a Filipino anthropology graduate student, is openly exasperated by these lazy subsistence farmers: “As a primitive group, the Manobo seem to have an inadequate idea about the cost of production as an economic phenomenon as conceived by [ta-da!] modern societies.”79)

This will remain as long as their present way of life is unchanged. The cost of labor and the length of time needed for work seems to them no more than the expenditure of energy and succession of one activity after another. . . . . Working time is also valueless to them. They may sit down and chat with friends all day long, or work without wanting to finish it in order to save time for other matters. It is only when the season is fast ending that the frenzy of work is aroused in them.80)

Now this was written, apparently in 1966 or earlier, by someone whose religions were Catholicism and modernization. Lopez was innocent of all influence from the counter-culture, the Harvard Kalahari anthropologists, French intellectuals, and everyone else hated by Murray Bookchin and Noam Chomsky. He saw primitive affluence where he would rather have seen progress. That makes it more plausible to believe that he really did see it.

There is more than one way to shorten working time. One way is early retirement. In Edward Bellamy’s utopia, Looking Backward (1887), work begins at age 21 and the age of retirement is 45.81) Another way to shorten working time is to delay the onset of doing serious work. Among the San, young people are not expected to provide food regularly until they are married, which is usually between ages 15 to 20 for girls, and about 5 years later for boys, “so it is not unusual to find healthy, active teenagers visiting from camp to camp while their older relatives provide food for them [citation omitted].”82) Similarly, in H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia (1905), “study and training last until twenty; then comes the travel year, and many are still students until twenty-four or twenty-five.”83) That sounds familiar. I attended law school. I have found many fascinating parallels between the stories in literary utopias and the stories in modern ethnographies. Maybe someday I can return to this.

A composite table of physical energy ratios has been calculated for foragers. This refers to the daily rate of energy expenditure (both work and nonwork). For foragers, it is 1.78 for males, 1.72 for females; for horticulturists, 1.87/1.79; for agriculturists, 2.28/2.31.84) Such statistics say nothing about the character of the work done. By all indications, hunting, gathering and even gardening are more fun than farming. The statistics are not very comparable to statistics on work in an industrializing society, where work is long and hard, nor to work in an advanced industrial society, where work is also long and hard, but much of it does not involve much physical activity. Nonetheless, these calculations add more to all the other evidence that foragers work less than anybody else, and that the more complex the society, the longer its workers work.

The much shorter working hours of primitives only begin to indicate the relevance of primitive societies to the anti-work argument. As I’ve often said, the work there is usually more varied and challenging than modern work, to such a degree that the line between work and play often cannot be sharply drawn. Their languages may not recognize the distinction, as with the Yir Yiront in Australia.85) “Working conditions” are better for hunters and gatherers because the greater part of their work is done out of doors, not at assembly-line stations, or in office cubicles, or standing up all day in banks and supermarkets, or driving trucks or taxis, or walking around all day in restaurants [II]. They don’t have to commute: for them, going to work is the same thing as being at work. It is also the same thing as taking the scenic route. Every route is scenic. As they move round, they are learning. The work may be individual or cooperative, but it is never subordinate to a hierarchy.

Not all these advantages apply to horticulture or agriculture. Agriculture sustains much higher populations – but not in style. But, as I’ve pointed out [II], even less than interesting work, especially if there is not too much of it, is much better conducted in a healthy environment, by parties of friends and neighbors, with ample intervals of rest, and in a festive atmosphere often including singing. I provided the example of the dry-farming of rice by the Kpelle in Liberia. Here is another example, the Basuto in southern Africa:

In all phases of agricultural work great use is made of co-operative work parties called matsema. These are gay, sociable affairs comprising from about ten to fifty participants of both sexes. Ordinary people invite their close friends and neighbours to help them, headmen and chiefs call on their followers as well. Uninvited guests are welcome provided they do some work. These matsema are useful if not very efficient. They assemble in the morning about 9 o’clock and work, with frequent breaks for light refreshment, until about 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon, to the accompaniment of ceaseless chatter and singing. . . . When the host thinks they have worked enough, they adjourn to his house where food and drink are provided and the party becomes purely social.86)

When I read accounts like this, Fourier’s concept of “attractive labor” does not seem so fantastic after all. The Basuto example is not far removed from Morelly’s utopia: “No one believed himself exempt from labor which, undertaken in concert with everybody, was rendered gay and easy.” The harvest, which demands the longest and hardest work in agriculture, was festive:

All these labors were followed by games, dances, country feasts. The succulent meals consisted of a copious variety of delicious fruits. Keen appetite greatly enhanced enjoyment of them. Finally, the days devoted to these occupations were days of merry-making and rejoicing, succeeded by a sweet repose which we, after our gaudy and riotous pleasures, have never tasted.87)

In Tomasso Campanella’s 1602 utopia The City of the Sun, “All the people go out into the fields with banners flying, with trumpets and other instruments sounding, equipped according to the occasion, whether to plow, reap, sow, gather, or harvest. Everything is accomplished in a few hours.”88) In primitive societies, life isn’t divided into work and everything else.89) It isn’t that the work isn’t occasionally strenuous or dull. But the primitives are spared time-discipline. At any particular time, they don’t have to do anything.90) And nobody tells them what to do. As anthropologist Lucy Mair wrote concerning the Nuer, who are Sudanese cattle herders: “No Nuer will let any other address an order to him.”91) Or as Marshall Sahlins describes the tribal chieftain: “One word from him and everybody does as he pleases.”92)

William Morris had some trouble reconciling his Marxism with his utopianism. His thinking on work was much more advanced than what then prevailed among Marxist politicians and intellectuals. It still is. He knew that what most politically-minded workers wanted was state socialism to abolish exploitation and inequality. That was the full content of socialism for Edward Bellamy, August Bebel, V.I. Lenin and, I suspect, Friedrich Engels. Morris regarded it as the minimum program, a transitional program. He thought it was sure to be tried.93) It was. It failed.

Even if it had succeeded, on its own terms, Morris would not have been satisfied:

Some Socialists might say we need not go any further than this; it is enough that the worker should get the full produce of his work, and that his rest be abundant. But though the compulsion of man’s tyranny is thus abolished, I yet demand compensation for the compulsion of Nature’s necessity. As long as the work is repulsive it will still be a burden which must be taken up daily, and even so would mar our life, even though the hours of labour are short. What we want to do is add to our wealth without diminishing our pleasure. Nature will not be finally conquered until our work becomes part of the pleasure of our lives.94) I call that the abolition of work.

There would have to be some sort of transition. It’s impossible to foresee what it would be like, because the circumstances in which a revolt against work could succeed are unforeseeable and, some may say, inconceivable. Obviously the mass refusal of work would be necessary. But it need not be universal. The interdependence of the economic institutions will prove to be their fatal weakness. Contrary to Noam Chomsky, I don’t believe that, for a “meaningful” revolution, “you need a substantial majority of the population who recognize or believe that further reform is not possible within the institutional framework that now exists.”95) Rather, I agree with Lewis Mumford: “The notion that no effective change can be brought about in society until millions of people have deliberated upon it and willed it is one of the rationalizations which are dear to the lazy and the ineffectual.”96) The point might be put more strongly. For the Marxist worker-intellectual Joseph Dietzgen, “the ruling class must necessarily base itself upon the deductive principle, on the preconceived unscientific notion that the spiritual salvation and mental training of the masses are to precede the solution of the social question.”97) And, to belabor the point: “Revolution will not happen on the day when 51% of the workers will become revolutionary; and it will not begin by setting up a decision-making apparatus.”98)

This future will be worse than the present in many, many ways. The world will be hotter, more polluted, with more severe weather, and with reduced biological and cultural diversity. The rich will be richer and the poor will be poorer. There will be too many people. Democracy will appear ever more obviously as a façade for oligarchy. “But if the President were Catholic (or black) (or female) (or Jewish) (or gay) . . . “– that bag of tricks is almost empty. As discussed below (“The Precariat”), trends in the workplace, all of which are bad, will get worse. Considering the ubiquity (and iniquity) of the National Security State, conspiracies will be impossible, except at the highest level, where they are business as usual. Considering the immensity of the military and the militarized police, insurrection in the traditional sense would be mass suicide. Nonetheless, if there is generalized resistance, there will be bloodshed and plenty of destruction. After the Revolution the world will be a wreck, even if the catastrophe falls short of the destruction of civilization, for which certain people long.

Nonetheless, the new work-free society, or society working free of work, will be different from what Marx called primitive communism, even if it has devolved from civilization. No matter how widespread the destruction or how degraded the environment, the world will still be filled – cluttered, even – by buildings, highways and industrial products. These will present both problems and opportunities. Kropotkin and Malatesta sternly warned that the apparent abundance of food in the stores won’t last long. That was before canned food. There will be non-perishables aplenty, for awhile. We will all be scroungers – dumpster divers – and I salute the lumpen vanguard which is already showing us the way. Recycling will assume greater urgency. And who knows what all is in the landfills? They may turn out to be treasure troves. It might be a long time before iron mines and steel mills have to be reopened. Maybe that time will never come.

This new world will not be unaware of the old world from which it emerges. It is all too unforgettable. There will remain technical knowledge, in the widest sense: knowledge which was unavailable to primitive societies and, indeed, unnecessary for them – literacy, for instance. Neither literally nor figuratively will the new world have to reinvent the wheel. Nor rely for its history only on oral tradition. I don’t care how alienating certain primitivist intellectuals, whose own literacy and numeracy skills are sometimes of a high order, regard these skills. In practice, the primitivists work them hard.

John Zerzan, the best-known primitivist, recognizes – as possibly some of his acolytes may not – that there will have to be a transition.99) I think he underestimates how severe the consequences of the collapse of civilization would be. Although he has characterized agriculture as (my phrase, not his) the economic dimension of alienation,100) he thinks that part of the transition from agriculture would include local permaculture and even urban gardening.101) As for industrialism and factories, clearly they “could not be gotten rid of instantly, but equally clear that their liquidation must be pursued with all the vigor behind the rush of breakout.”102) And work itself?

A qualitatively different life would entail abolishing exchange, in every form, in favor of the gift and the spirit of play. Instead of the coercion of work – and how much of the present could continue without precisely that coercion? – an existence without constraints is an immediate, central objective. Unfettered pleasure, creative endeavor along the lines of Fourier: according to the passions of the individual and in a context of complete equality.103)

You will make your new world, if you do, mostly out of what you inherit from it, not only materially, but culturally. Marx understood that. So do I.104) Unless you use the old world selectively, and often in radically original ways, you will almost by definition recreate that same old world. I want my ideas to be part of the legacy: a useable part of it.

In my first paragraph I quoted Paul Lafargue – writing in 1883 – who viewed, with alarm and disdain, “a strange madness,” “the love of work, the passion for work to the point of exhausting one’s vitality and that of one’s progeny.” 105) This much is certain: the work ethic was not devised by workers.106) The ancient Greek and Roman writers never bothered to promote a work ethic in their workers. Their workers worked on an or-else basis. Whether slave or free, craftsmen, according to Plato, have “defective natures: “their souls are cramped and spoiled by the mechanical nature of their work, in just the way that their bodies are mutilated by their crafts and labors.”107)

In the European West, the idea began to begin, so to speak, with the Christian teaching to obey your masters and accept your miserable lot in life. Hence the many observations – by H.G. Wells and Bertrand Russell, for instance – that the work ethic is a morality for slaves.108) That was how, in the early stages of British industrialism, it was deployed, especially in the Methodist version, to pacify the working classes.109) Even in that vulgar religious form, it is not entirely defunct. But the idea of work eventually acquired a life of its own, first when it was freed from religion, and then when it was freed from morality.110)

Adriano Tilgher’s book on “work through the ages” – which is actually about elite attitudes toward work – is short and to the point. To the ancient Greeks, work – in the sense of physical labor – was a curse and nothing else. Their word for it, ponos, has the same root as the Latin poena, “sorrow.” This was not just the elite attitude implicit in Homer and explicit in Plato, Aristotle and many others. For the Archaic peasant poet Hesiod, work was a divinely imposed curse.111) For the Hebrews, work was also painful drudgery – and on top of that, it was punishment or expiation for sin. But work was meritorious if it was done so as to be able to share its fruits with one’s needy brethren. Christianity drew from both sources. St. Thomas Aquinas considered work to be a duty imposed by nature. We begin to drift into dangerous territory. Luther kicked it up a notch. Work was, explicitly, a moral duty for all those capable of work, and legitimate work was a service to God: “Luther placed a crown on the sweaty brow of labor. From his hands work came forth endowed with religious duty.” 112)

For the Calvinist, work was to be done to fulfill a holy purpose and for no other reason: Calvin “is an anchorite of the market-place.” Work is not for “wealth, possessions, or a soft living”: its fruits are for investment. From the bourgeois point of view, as Engels observed, “where Luther failed, Calvin won the day.”113) The 19th century (this is a cavalier history) is the Golden Age of Work. Then, and since, many work for the sake of work.114) But, Tilgher thought that, in his time (the 1920’s), the will to work began to wane.115) He may be right. But at just that time, the foremost exponents of the work ethic, as H.L. Mencken noted, were the Fascists and the Communists. The doctrine of the inherent virtue of work

lies at the heart of all the new non-Euclidean theologies, for example, Bolshevism and Fascism, – though they reject certain of its traditional implications. They are all hot for labor, and reserve their worst anathemas for those who seek to shirk it. Says the Charter of Labor of the Italian Fascists:”Work in all its forms, intellectual, and manual, is a social duty.” To which the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. replies in sonorous antiphon: “The Union of Socialist Republics declares labor to be the duty of all citizens.”116)

According to anarchist hagiography, the anarchists during the Spanish Revolution (1936-1939) were the most noble, the most heroic,117) and the most revolutionary workers whom the world has ever seen: “For Spanish Anarchism remained above all a peoples’ movement, reflecting the cherished ideals, dreams, and values of ordinary individuals, not an esoteric credo and tightly knit professional party far removed from the everyday experiences of the villager and factory worker” (Murray Bookchin).118) The factory workers of Catalonia were the heart and soul of the Revolution and the pride and joy of what remained of the international anarchist movement.

I speak in clichés because that’s how the anarchists speak on this topic, among others. Official anarchism, although officially atheist, exalted the work ethic, industrial technology, productivism, and an ideology of solidarity and sacrifice. Also workers’ self-management of industry.119) Official Spanish anarchism promoted these principles maybe even more insistently than anarchism elsewhere: “By glorifying labor as emancipatory, the dominant forms of anarchism and, later, anarchosyndicalism led not only to the acceptance of industrialization but to its promotion.”120) Much of contemporary anarchism is the same way.

However, shocking evidence has come to light which suggests that the Barcelona workers themselves, whether they were anarchists or not, often failed to share the ideology of their organizations and militants. They had no work ethic under any circumstances. In practice, workers’ control in Barcelona meant control of workplaces by union militants, who wanted nothing – not even the interests of the working class – to get in the way of increasing production for the war. Prior to the Revolution, the Barcelona workers enjoyed some success in gaining higher wages and shorter hours. During the Revolution, they defended these gains and sought even higher wages and even shorter hours. After all, shouldn’t a working-class revolution benefit the workers? If you thought so, you do not understand workerism. The government (which included some anarchist militants) and the unions – both the anarchist CNT and the socialist UGT – called for wage cuts and longer hours. As historian Michael Seidman writes,

there were two sides to the prewar CNT, which was not only a union fighting for the immediate gains of its constituency but also a revolutionary organization struggling for control of the means of production. During the Revolution these two functions of the Confederación would come into conflict because the Barcelonan working class would continue to fight, even under more unfavorable circumstances, for less work and more pay.121)

The result was class conflict between the workers and the representatives of their class, which is exactly what anarchists like Bakunin predicted would happen if a socialist government ever came to power. The workers resisted work in the same ways they always had: by absenteeism, sabotage, theft, work slowdowns, the refusal of overtime, taking unauthorized holidays, unilateral adoption of a shorter workweek, and even by going on strike. The bosses – what else is there to call them? – responded as bosses always do: with exhortations, threats, firings, sending their agents out to investigate suspected cases of malingering, fines, and criminal prosecutions.122)

Still, there were also new responses, probably inspired by the Soviet example. The CNT Minister of Justice in the central government, García Oliver – a prominent militant from the anarchist vanguard organization, the FAI – established labor camps (sometimes then referred to, even by their proponents, as concentration camps) as penal institutions: “an extreme, but logical, expression of Spanish anarchosyndicalism.”123) The guards were recruited from the CNT.

Seidman’s book was published in 1991.124) I’ve mentioned it here and there. Maybe I should have reviewed it, because, as far as I know, no anarchist or leftist ever has. But, as a Luftmensch, I can’t do all the heavy lifting. I do too much already. For present purposes, I put forward the Spanish example as the ultimate dramatization of the fact that the work ethic is for bosses, not for workers.

One thing has never changed, “the necessity of keeping the poor contented. Which led the rich, for thousands of years, to preach the dignity of labor, while taking care themselves to be undignified in this respect” (Bertrand Russell).125) As William Morris put it in 1884, “it has become an article of the creed of modern morality that all labour is good in itself – a convenient belief to those who live off the labour of others.”126)

Max Weber’s original theory about Protestantism and capitalism was not about the work ethic of workers. It was about the work ethic of merchants. It is doubtful whether any work ethic ever dominated the consciousness of most workers anywhere.127) Most workers aren’t as dumb as intellectuals sometimes make them out to be. And most intellectuals aren’t as smart as they think they are. According to labor historian Herbert Gutman: “At all times in American history – when the country was still a preindustrial society, while it industrialized, and after it had become the world’s leading industrial nation – quite diverse Americans, some of them more prominent and powerful than others, made it clear in their thought and behavior that the Protestant work ethic was not deeply engrained in the nation’s social fabric.”128)

Gutman’s other research interest was African-American history. Not too surprisingly, he found evidence that the slaves, although they were almost all pious Protestants, did not subscribe to the Protestant work ethic.129) I largely agree with this judgment: “When one looks at the situation from the very historical perspective that ostensibly gave rise to it, explanations in terms of the Protestant Ethic emerge as little more than an invention of twentieth-century social science, with unwarranted pretensions to an ancient lineage.”130) Weber cites little evidence, and too much of it consists of insipid, avuncular maxims from Poor Richard’s Almanac. Its author, the on the make Benjamin Franklin, was not a Calvinist, and he was probably not a Christian. He was a completely modern man: maybe the first.

There’s one thing that Protestant Christianity did do: it took the fun out of the Sabbath, the day of rest. It decreed refraining from work, certainly, but refraining from play too, and it mandated listening to long sermons. Even work might be, as Nietzsche remarked, a more satisfying use of time: “Industrious races find it very troublesome to endure leisure: it was a masterpiece of English instinct to make the Sabbath so holy and so boring that the English begin unconsciously to lust again for their work- and week-day.”131) But the English weren’t always that way. They were made that way, partly perhaps by religion, but mostly by industrial discipline itself.

Even now there are efforts, mainly by academics at third-tier schools, to use religion to justify work, and to use work to justify religion. I have come across an oversized book, an anthology, 524 pages, entitled (get this) Handbook of Workplace Spirituality and Organizational Performance.132) Many of its 32 essays assert categorically that “spirituality” – their euphemism for religion – boosts productivity. They cite some studies. None of their own studies, however, provides any direct evidence of cause and effect. They think that’s what should happen. The godly are forever confusing “is” with “ought.”

But maybe they’re right. The traditional function of slave morality is to reconcile the poor, the weak, the weary, and especially the workers, to their wretched fates. If the downtrodden are patient, they will enjoy pie in the sky when they die. It should not be too hard for these social scientists and professors of management to survey and compare the work performance of spiritual and non-spiritual workers. Instead, their claims and, when they attempt any, their arguments are based on sleight of hand so crude that it would embarrass any competent card sharp or Supreme Court Justice.

Their topic is not, after all, the individual workers’ subjective experience of spirituality (or what the academics, or the workers, mistake for the sacred or supernatural). Their subject is workplace spirituality, a nonsense phrase. Generally the purpose of the workplace is to make money for the owners. There are no spiritual workplaces. Workplace spirituality refers to some sort of workplace culture. Their definition: “Workplace spirituality is a framework of organizational values evidenced in the [firm’s] culture that promotes employees’ experiences of transcendence through the work process, facilitating their sense of being connected to others in a way that provides feelings of completeness and joy.”133)

Thus defined, there is no workplace spirituality – first, because there are no experiences of transcendence; second, because, even if there were, there would be no such experiences “through the work process.” Not even the Christians have hitherto preached or practiced any such spiritual exercises. Jesus was anti-work, although contemporary Christians don’t dwell on that. Verily I say unto you, servants, obey your masters (St. Paul): but don’t expect epiphanies at work. “Culture” means many things – too many things – but unless it might have something to do with work, it can have no relation to “organizational performance.” None of the contributors to the anthology reports his own personal experiences of transcendence, or her own feelings of completeness and joy, in working on the anthology, or at any other time.

By their work shall ye know them. There are certain “spiritually-related work practices such as gainsharing,134) job security in encouraging calculated risks, narrower wage and status differentials, processes for effective input into the organization’s decision-making processes, and guarantees on [sic] individual workers’ rights [which] have been widely correlated with higher rates of growth in labor productivity . . . ”135) Doing well by doing good.

If these practices increase productivity, they increase productivity whether or not anybody is experiencing transcendental transports. They are all among the reforms previously promoted by the “Progressive human resource management (HRM)” perspective in industrial relations studies,136) which never had a word to say about workplace spirituality. The progressive paradigm was never adopted by most employers.137) It has no place in the current world of work with its longer hours, falling real wages, deskilling, downsizing, outsourcing, and the looming abolition of the career, in the sense of a permanent, full time job with benefits. It’s easier to increase productivity with new technology, by intensifying work, and by imposing longer hours. These writers are all disconnected from workplace reality, and probably from reality in general. The word “unions” does not appear in the index to the Handbook. Workplace spirituality is the final, debased version of the Protestant ethic, contaminated with business boosterism, New Age mysticism, the 12-Step shuffle, even Transcendental Meditation.

Workers may not have generally accepted the work ethic, but the workerist leftists did – and they still do.138) They were the real if implicit target of Paul Lafargue’s ire. The exaltation of work was not peculiar to the Stalinists and Fascists, although they may still be unsurpassed at it. Bakunin proclaimed the dignity of labor and the shamefulness of living without working:139)Labour is the fundamental basis of dignity and human rights, for it is only by means of his own free, intelligent work that man becomes a creator in his turn, wins from the surrounding world and his own animal nature his humanity and rights, and creates the world of civilization.”140) He was right about work as the creator of civilization, but that was accomplished by servile labor.141) As for the anarchists Kropotkin and Malatesta – according to Malatesta, they both “exalted, with good reason, the moralising influence of work”142) – further confirming my opinion that the critique of moralism and the critique of work are closely related, because moralism and work are closely related. They are both to be rejected unconditionally, for, if only one of them is rejected unconditionally, the other one will bring it back.

Hours of work have gotten longer continually since 1940 (my next topic) without work becoming, in general, more satisfying – quite the contrary. Work is as easy as ever to believe in as a harsh fact, but harder than ever to believe in as an ideal. The work ethic probably survives only in a few bourgeois enclaves, such as law firms and executive suites, where the hours of work are longer than anywhere else, although the money is better. In a survey from the 1950’s, almost 90% of executives reported that they would continue to work even if they had an independent income supporting their current standard of living.143) Some of the yuppies of the 1980’s and 1990’s, who are caricatured for their self-indulgence, worked for 60, 80, even 100 hours.144)

No doubt this is still going on. Once one is broken into the work routine, and then takes on more and more work, at the expense of the rest of your life, at the same time that you are making a lot of money, you have to tell yourself that you are not the self-destructive fool that you seem to be. You are better than other people, who are idlers compared to you – you, the proud hipster Stakhanovite. You can afford $6 lattes at Starbucks, and you will need a lot of them to keep you awake that long. That’s not an ethic: it’s an obsession. You are insane.

I’ve mentioned this anecdote before. An old friend of mine – Tom Conlon – worked as a computer programmer at Microsoft in its salad days, and retired early. He told me that – Bill Gates being a liberal boss (and now the richest man in the world) – the office joke was that you could work “any 60 hours that you like.” Some clinical psychologists recognize the workaholic to be, in fact, an addict.145) Whatever is motivating workers at all levels to work nowadays, it’s probably not any work ethic. Rather, it’s probably the traditional needs for food, clothing, shelter, and respectability, also force of habit, well-founded insecurity, or else some insane obsession. In Japan, it is so common for workers to work themselves to death – 60-70 hours a week, 10,000 deaths a year – that there is a word for it: karoshi.146)

I have already discussed, here and elsewhere [I, II], the duration of work in primitive societies. Work in pre-industrial societies, although sometimes hard, was not always long, because there was a lot of down time for peasants at least in temperate climates. As John Stuart Mill observed, discussing agriculture: “The same person may perform them all [plowing, sowing and reaping] in succession, and have in most climates, a considerable amount of unoccupied time.”147) In medieval Europe, there were, by one count, 115 holidays and 52 Sundays which were free of work.148) For ancien regime France, Paul Lafargue counted 52 Sundays and 38 holidays.149) In Venice, it was 90 holidays.150) By comparison, working hours have gone from bad to worse for contemporary Americans and, I expect, for most workers everywhere.

Working hours went way up in the early stages of industrialization, and, because the work was degraded, so were the workers. This was why the eight hour day was perhaps the most important issue in the late 19th century for industrial workers. It was the cause for which the Haymarket anarchists in Chicago paid with their lives [I]. As I will discuss later, shorter-hours was American labor’s most important demand until the late 1930’s, as unthinkable as that now seems.151) From 1900 to 1920, “working hours fell sharply from just under 60 hours to just 50. During the 1920s, the process slowed, but accelerated again as weekly hours fell below 35.”152) “From 1900 to 1940 the average workweek of full-time employees fell by roughly 8 percent for decade.”153) The 40 hour week was at that time enacted into law, although it did not apply to many workers who needed it the most, such as farm laborers. It still doesn’t apply to farm laborers.

During World War II, understandably, working hours increased, because millions of men were conscripted into the military (my father, for instance). At the same time industrial production had to be greatly increased, because the United States became the Arsenal of Democracy, supplying war materiel, not only to its own military, but to our allies. Some of them – the Soviet Union and China, for instance – fell somewhat short of being democracies. Women – inspired, perhaps, by the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” – or perhaps by the need to earn a living without a working husband, replaced the men and, remarkably, it turned out that women could do anything that men could do. The unions took a “no strike pledge” in return for high wages, including higher overtime wages, although some workers rebelled against the no strike pledge with wildcat strikes154) (a wildcat strike is a strike not authorized by a union).

Under rationing, there was nothing to spend all this increased income on – no private automobiles, for instance, were produced from 1942 through 1945. Similarly, there was nothing for our GI’s to spend their accumulated pay on, except English girls, who came cheap. These are the reasons why, after the war, there was a massive increase in consumer spending, launching the consumer society which we still have. Many workers prospered. Almost all of the unions were pushing for higher wages and more fringe benefits, not shorter hours. I’ll have more to say about that later.

Here I am interested in what happened with respect to the hours of work after World War II. At first the work week stabilized at 40 hours.155) According to all the theorists of productivity, it should have then have continually gone down. According to all the evidence, it continually went up. It has, in fact, gone up since 1940 – temporarily, because of the war – but then permanently. It went up by one month: by 163 hours, in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is because of both longer working days and more weeks of work.156) Working hours are still going up. Yet in 1961, and later, the pundits were still saying: “The prospect is more leisure and less work in the future.”157)

I’ve been discussing the working hours of wage-workers. They aren’t the only workers. There are also housewives. Because most housewives are by now also wage-laborers, there is a tendency to neglect the housework part of their toil as if it were residual. Liberal feminists think that the massive proletarianization of women since the 1970’s is a progressive development for women. How wrong they are! These liberal feminists are not, I notice, themselves proletarians. Some of them, I suspect, are not housewives. Wage-labor has not, for women, replaced housework. It has only added the burden of wage-work, for most women, to the burden of housework. Some of the husbands may be doing a little more housework, but working wives are certainly doing a lot more wage-work. They are working longer hours than ever. This is not a topic which has received enough attention.

There were, however, a few studies in the first half of the 20th century. One of them, comparing housework for urban housewives, in 1930 and in 1947, found that the work week increased from an already extremely high 63.2 to 78.5 hours in smaller cities, and to 80.5 hours in larger cities. Another study of rural housewives in homes which did not yet have electric power found that these housewives “spent only [!] 2 percent more of their time on household chores than women whose homes were electrified and who had the benefit of many labor-saving devices.”158) Other studies found that housewives in rural communities worked 62 hours in 1929, and 61 hours in 1964. Another study, of urban areas: in 1929, 51 hours. In 1945, in small cities, 78 hours: in large cities, 81 hours.159)

It doesn’t matter that these studies disagree in their details, or that their methodologies might be faulted, by the exalted standards of 21st century survey research. I am trying to sketch the big picture. The clear conclusion is that the hours of housework have long been even longer than the hours of wage-work, often much longer. And now it’s worse: “Housewives are sharply aware of the fact that, however much or little husbands may share domestic tasks with them, the responsibility for getting the work done remains theirs.”160)

In 1965, a study found that the average American woman spent 4 hours a day on housework (28 hours a week) and 3½ hours a day on wage-work (26½ hours a week) for a total of 54½ hours a week.161) There was more work for mother, among other reasons, because she no longer had the help of maids, laundresses and dishwashers.162) She never had much help from father, who was also working longer hours. He looked forward, after his tiring, tedious and humiliating day, to when his wife meets him at the front door, wagging her tail, with a newspaper in her mouth.163) Not much later, women went out of the house to do wage-work. But the housework was still waiting for them when they came home: “A thirty-five hour week (housework) added to a forty-hour week (paid employment) adds up to a working week that even sweatshops cannot match.”164) Thanks to capitalism, with a little boost from feminism, the modern woman enjoys the worst of both worlds. But she is allowed to vote.

Here I would like to recount some history which was not well-known to me in 1985 or for many more years. In the 19th century, shorter-hours was the foremost issue for organized labor.165) It was what the Haymarket agitation was about: anarchist-led workers demanding the 8 hour day. It was not just a demand for shorter hours, which would be a demand for less pay. It meant shorter hours so that workers would work less, but receive the same wages, or higher wages, than when they worked more. It was understood to be a wage demand. And, as noted, working hours did go down.

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, shorter-hours became an even more urgent labor demand, with unions demanding both a five-day week (which many of them got) and a 30 hour week (which they did not get).166) You didn’t have to be a utopian crazy to find something irrational, not to say immoral, about a situation where some workers worked long hours while tens of millions of other workers were unemployed. (Curiously, that is exactly the situation now.) Even some politicians, journalists and college professors thought that something was amiss. It was obviously necessary to share the wealth and share the work. In 1933, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President, the shorter work week was generally thought to be on the verge of adoption.167)

The President, however, decided otherwise. After temporizing about the issue, he soon came down in favor of another solution to the economic crisis. The answer was, not shorter hours of work, it was more jobs, and more work.168) This has been the conventional wisdom ever since. In his administration, the 40 hour week was enacted, and so was a (very low) Federal minimum wage. And also Social Security (retirement pensions) – which is a different kind of shorter-hours measure.169) Organized labor continued to press for shorter hours, but it eventually fell into line.170)

One of the ironies here – in addition to the fact that FDR was elected, and repeatedly re-elected, with strong labor support – is that his policies, which did not greatly reduce working hours, did not greatly reduce unemployment either. Another is that the 40 hour week was an empty gesture at a time when the average workweek was less than 35 hours. Even a legislated 35 hour work week would have meant something. After World War II, the workweek stabilized at 40 hours.171) A 35 hour work week would mean a lot now, when the 40 hour week has become a farce. Two economists have estimated that, “Under the best of conditions a reduction in the workweek from 40 to 35 hours would result in an increase of at least fourteen percent in hourly wage rates if workers are to maintain their income levels.”172)

Labor’s defeat at the legislative level didn’t have to be the end of the matter. Another of FDR’s measures, the National Labor Relations Act, legalized and domesticated labor unions. The Act legalized at-work union organizing, collective bargaining, and the right to strike. Labor might have renewed the fight for shorter hours in collective bargaining negotiations with particular employers. But the unions never did that, not in a serious way. Here I summarize a case study of one important union whose rank and file, but not its leadership, continued to fight the good fight. But lost.

After World War II, continuing into the 1950’s and 1960’s, in at least in one large United Auto Workers local – Local 600, at the Rouge plant in Detroit – the rank and file kept up constant pressure on the leadership to demand shorter hours in the collective bargaining agreement.173) There’s a long and sordid story here about how the union bosses – above all, Walter Reuther, whom the left regards as a saint – deceived the union members. They faked putting the shorter-hours demand on the bargaining table, only to trade it off first, every time, meanwhile doing everything possible to diminish shorter-hours sentiment among the workers. In 1958 contract negotiations with the Ford Motor Company, the UAW did not even bother to make a shorter-hours demand.174)

Walter Reuther, nominally a socialist, agreed with FDR that what American workers needed was, not shorter hours, but more work. Throughout his union dictatorship, although he sometimes lied about it, he consistently opposed demands for shorter hours.175) How to ensure a steady supply of work, and lots of it, for factory workers? In the same way that FDR did: by war production. Reuther was a Cold War, anti-Communist, militarist liberal, much like many contemporary liberals, such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – only now the menace is supposedly Islamism, not Communism. The war economy which began in World War II, continues to this day, although, war production has not been enough to prevent unionized factory workers from being laid off in vast numbers. Their jobs have been abolished or exported.

Labor-management negotiations are no longer about how much more money and benefits labor should get out of vastly increased productivity and vastly increased profits. Now they are about how much labor will give back. When the unions abandoned the demand for shorter hours, it was the beginning of the end for the unions.176) This was not the only reason for the decline of unions, but there is no doubt about their decline. In 1953, 35% of the workforce was unionized. In 1975 it was 25%. By 2009, it was less than 12% – and only 7% of the private-sector labor force.177) Probably most unionized workers are now government employees who are forbidden to go on strike. The NLRA does not apply to them. In my childhood (in the Detroit area), strikes were routine news, reported in the media from time to time, without any suggestion that there was anything unusual about strikes. Now they are rare. Younger people may be unaware that strikes are legal. Considering the fragmentation of work by contingent work (see below), it is inconceivable that the unions will ever again accomplish anything for the working class. So much for syndicalism.

I am not especially sorry about that. All unions are oligarchic.178) All unions are counter-revolutionary. All unions have cooperated with management and the police to suppress unauthorized “wildcat” strikes, as they still did in the 1970’s, when unions still had some power.179) We will never abolish work without some kind of a revolution. The unions, if they still exist, will have nothing to do with that. Anything that puts business out of business, puts unions out of business too. Unions are, in fact, businesses. They are much more like insurance companies than social movements.180)

As a political issue, or even a labor issue, shorter-hours is long dead. Yet it’s remarkable how long the spectre of shorter hours haunted the power elite. President John F. Kennedy, a liberal, in 1963 rejected the 35 hour week. In 1964, his successor Lyndon B. Johnson, another liberal, also rejected it in his State of the Union speech.181) And nobody was even advocating shorter hours then! As far as I know, no American politician has ever mentioned the issue any time since. Shorter-hours is the elephant in the workroom, and in the stateroom.

Now shorter-hours is not the abolition of work. It’s not utopian.182) But if there is such a thing as a radical reform, shorter-hours is a radical reform. Aristotle was right: a life of labor does not leave time for better activities. Nor does it cultivate capacities for better activities, it represses them. Adam Smith knew that too. William Godwin added: “The poor are kept in ignorance by the want of leisure.”183) We know that much shorter hours are feasible, even within the context of industrial capitalism, because hours have been much shorter in that context as recently as the 1940s Unfortunately I have no idea how to bring about this radical reform.

And how long is too long? Most utopian writers since Plato (who couldn’t care less how long the slaves and artisans worked184) ) have included shorter hours in their plans. For Thomas More (1516), who was really the first genuine utopian: 6 hours.185) Later utopias often promise 4 hours.186) So did several anarchists and utopian socialists. William Godwin, in 1793, thought that half an hour a day of equal manual labor would suffice.187) For his utopian socialist friend Robert Owen, 8 hours.188) For Étienne Cabet (1840): 7 hours in summer, 6 hours in winter.189) For Henry Olerich and Joaquin Miller (both in 1893): usually 2 hours.190) For W.D. Howells (1894): 3 hours a day of “obligatories”: for the good utopian citizen, further “voluntary labors, to which he gave much time or little, [which] brought him no increase of those necessaries, but only credit and affection.”191) The anarcho-communist Alexander Berkman promised 3 hours.192) For Aldous Huxley: 2 hours a day for professors and government officials: but they also do some “muscular work” in their spare time because the sedentary life is unhealthy.193) This too is a standard utopian theme. For B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two (1948): 4 hours a day.194) For Ernest Callanbach’s Ecotopia (1975): 20 hours a week.195) Others don’t provide a statistic, but they promise shorter hours – almost everybody does that, from the Hermetic philosopher Valentine Andreae in 1619196) to the demagogue Huey Long in 1935.197)

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1974 anarchist utopia The Dispossessed – “an ambiguous utopia,” according to its subtitle – people work from 5-7 hours a day, with 2-4 days off every 10 days.198) Le Guin doesn’t promise the moon – although, her society is on a moon – rather, she describes an anarchist society subject to harsh environmental conditions. But they are no harsher than in the Kalahari desert where the San – in fact, not in fiction – worked four hours a day. Le Guin might have known this, because Richard B. Lee’s preliminary findings on the Bushmen were published in 1968, in the Man the Hunter anthology. Marshall Sahlins’ “The Original Affluent Society” appeared in Le Monde in 1968 and in Stone Age Economics in 1972. Ironically (I suppose), Le Guin’s father was the famous anthropologist A.L. Kroeber. California Indians, his field of greatest expertise, were leisured hunter-gatherers. We hope for a touch of the exotic in anthropologically informed fiction. But this book is, as Michael Moorcock says, “dull and journalistic.”199) According to Lester del Ray, the ending “slips badly.”200) I would say instead that the book has no ending. It just stops.

There is little indication that Le Guin is very familiar with anarchist or utopian literature. Contrary to legend, Le Guin is no anarchist. If she is, then where has she been, politically – she is now 86 – for the last forty years? Writing stories and making money. She has now written an adulatory forward to a new collection of some of Murray Bookchin’s old essays.201) (The publisher, Verso, is however marketing them as “new essays,” as if Bookchin has not been as dead as Marley these last 9 years.) Le Guin does identify with the left, betraying the archaism of her ideology. She hails Bookchin as “a true son of the Enlightenment” – yes, as were Robespierre, Napoleon,202) and the Marquis de Sade.203) She is hailed (by Verso) for her “impassioned endorsement of the writer and political theorist Murray Bookchin.” She is aware that Bookchin “move[d] away from anarchism.” If she knows that, she knows that Bookchin’s supposed anarchism came under severe attack, and not only from me, years before he publicly repudiated it.204) His “social ecology” (a phrase he plagiarized205) ) had even sooner drawn some severe criticism.206)

“Impatient, idealistic readers,” she condescends to say, “may find him uncomfortably tough-minded.” Not everybody has the balls to read Murray Bookchin! who modestly boasted of the “muscularity of thought” which he tried, to no avail, to transmit to the wimpy, effete, polite, mushminded, uncomprehending Greens.207) I find him to be uncomfortably stupid. Impatient, idealistic readers who are accustomed to reading Le Guin’s fiction, all of which is fantasy or very soft science fiction, might find even Bookchin challenging. Harry Potter fans might have trouble too. Le Guin herself says that the science in science fiction is mostly at the sixth grade level.208) Bookchin wasn’t tough-minded – just single-minded and simple-minded. He was just a blustering bully. If he were a tough guy, he would have rebutted Anarchy after Leftism, but, as he wasn’t tough-minded – and because he had no balls209) – he didn’t.

LeGuin now claims that Bookchin’s “Post-Scarcity Anarchism” inspired The Dispossessed. That’s ridiculous, since her “ambiguous utopia” Anarres is scarcity anarchism, not post-scarcity anarchism, and even its anarchism is compromised.210) If Bookchin inspired LeGuin, her inspiration was based on a misunderstanding. Taking her at her own word, she concealed her debt to Bookchin (and undoubtedly concealed it from Bookchin himself) until long after she collected her Hugo and Nebula awards, much as Noam Chomsky concealed his anarchism for many years, until anarchism became somewhat fashionable – or at least, too important to ignore – for his leftist fan base.211)


Guillermo Algaze, Ancient Mesopotamia and the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape (Chicago, IL & London: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 128. “Scribal summaries dealing with the composition of groups of foreign and native born captives used as laborers describe them with age and sex categories identical to those used to describe state-owned herd animals, including various types of cattle and pigs [citations omitted].” Ibid., 129.
Bob Black, “Let Us Prey!The Abolition of Work and Other Essays (Port Townsend, WA: n.d. [1986]), 73.
John Godard, Industrial Relations: The Economy and Society (Toronto, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1994), 425.
Bob Black, “All Play and No Work,” Wall Street Journal Reports, June 4, 1990, R17. The original version, “No Future for the Workplace,” is in Bob Black, Friendly Fire (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1992), 13-18.
Bob Black, “Justice: Primitive and Modern;” Bob Black, “An Anarchist Response to ’The Anarchist Response to Crime,’” Defacing the Currency: Selected Writings, 1992-2012 (Berkeley, CA: Little Black Cart, 2013), 193-216. The first essay appears, in Russian translation, in my second Russian book, Anarchy and Democracy, published by Hylaea.
Bob Black, “Notes on ‘Post-Left’ Anarchism;” see also Wolfi Landstreicher, “From Politics to Life: Ridding Anarchy of the Leftist Millstone,” Anarchy: A Journal Armed No. 54 (20(2) (Winter 2002-2003): 47-51.
Black, “Chomsky on the Nod,” Defacing the Currency, 61-172; Bob Black, Anarchy after Leftism (Columbia, MO: C.A.L. Press, 1997); Bob Black, Nightmares of Reason (2005- ). On Chomsky, see also “Noam Chomsky’s Anarchism,” Anarchism and Anarchists: Essays by George Woodcock (Kingston, Ontario, Canada: Quarry Press, 1992), 224-228; John Zerzan, “Who Is Chomsky?” in Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (Los Angeles, CA: Feral House, 2002), 140-143.
Jason McQuinn, “What Happened to the Anarchist Press?” Modern Slavery No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2012/2013), 6-7.
“That the range of anarchists includes the clowns from protest alley, micrometer-toting specialists of oppression-identification, and Marxists who wear black flags isn’t a condemnation of anarchist ideas but is a significant reason for pause.” [Aragorn!], Boom: Introductory Writings on Nihilism ([Berkeley, CA]: n.p., 2013), 93.
Black, “Debunking Democracy,” Defacing the Currency, 3-33.
Paul Lafargue, The Right to Be Lazy, trans. Len Bracken (Ardmore, PA: Fifth Season Press, 1999), 5. He also stated: “In capitalist societies, work is the cause of all intellectual degeneracy and all organic deformities.” Ibid., 3.
Bertrand Russell, “In Praise of Idleness,” In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1935), 14-15.
Keith Thomas, “Introduction,” The Oxford Book of Work, ed. Keith Thomas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), xiii.
Ivan Illich, ”Shadow Work,” Shadow Work (Boston, MA & London: Marion Boyars, 1981), 100.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (New York: Pantheon Books, 1979), 106. “ … ‘child’s play’ … may in fact represent an optimum setting for children’s learning.” Edward C. Devereux, “Backyard versus Little League Baseball: Some Observations of the Impoverishment of Children’s Games in America,” in Contemporary Issues in Sociology of Sport, ed. Andrew Yiannakis (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers, 2001), 66.
Nicolas Edme Restif de la Bretonne, “The Pursuit of Happiness Through Rules and Regulations,” in //French Utopias: An Anthology of Ideal Societies//, ed. Frank E. Manuel & Fritzie P. Manuel (New York: The Free Press & London: Collier-Macmillan Ltd., 1966), 171.
Thomas More, Utopia: A Revised Translation, Backgrounds, Criticism, trans. & ed. Robert M. Adams ((2d ed.; New York & London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992), 36 (originally 1516). A modern argument is in Paul & Percival Goodman, Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life (2d ed.; New York: Vintage Books, 1960), 157 (originally 1947).
Richard Neville, Play Power: Exploring the International Underground (New York: Vintage Books, 1971), 274: Play has been replaced by “recreation,” the function of which is to “re-create” the worker for work: to repair him.
Sebastian de Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure (New York: The Twentieth Century Fund, 1962), 91.
Stanley Parker, Leisure and Work (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1983), 4.
The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier, trans. & ed. Jonathan Beecher & Richard Bienvenu (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1971), 251. “Fourier loved, but could seldom afford, his country’s best wines.” Jonathan Beecher & Richard Bienvenu, “Introduction,” in ibid., 26. No doubt Fourier occasionally ate better food than he usually got in cheap cafes, if only because he was the brother in law of the famous gourmand Jean Anthelm Brillat-Savarin, author of The Physiology of Taste, trans. M.F.K. Fisher (San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1986). Brillat-Savarin called for “gastronomy”; Fourier called for “gastrosophy.” Brillat-Savarin is best known for his maxim, “you are what you eat.” Who suspected, until now, that there is a remote link between utopian socialism and “Iron Chef”?
Marie Louise Berneri, Journey through Utopia (London: Freedom Press, 1982), 77-78, 115 (originally 1950).
De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 326.
“Ideologies, Classes, and the Domination of Nature,” Situationist International Anthology, ed. & trans. Ken Knabb (rev., exp. ed.; Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets, 2006), 32 [from I.S. #2 (1962)].
John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: Macmillan, 1969), 241-42 (originally 1916), quoted in Richard Sennett, The Craftsman (New Haven, CT & London: Yale University Press, 2008), 287-88.
Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1955), 13; Adriano Tilgher, Homo Faber: Work Through the Ages, trans. Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Chicago, IL: Gateway Books, 1965), 194. B.F. Skinner defined play as “serious behavior with non-serious consequences.” B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York, Bantom Books, 1972), 170. Skinner at least understood that people who play, take play seriously: “Said most generally, play draws its energies from real life. Something must be there to be played with.” Thomas S. Hendricks, Play Reconsidered: Sociological Perspectives on Human Expression (Urbana & Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 131.
E.g., The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 2: 2244-2245. “The English word ‘work’ has so wide and rich a range and so varied a past that a mere catalogue of its senses would be several pages long.” De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 40. Huizinga was a medievalist and, like most historians, he liked the period he studied. That imparted “aristocratic, idealist sensibilities,” nonetheless, there is “no reason to separate so strictly the material incentives and consequences of play from the symbolic ones.” Hendricks, Play Reconsidered, 216, 217.
Tilgher, Homo Faber, 194. Rather, Professor Giuseppe Rensi, whom he quotes (at 191), is surely right to say (with much redundancy) that play is engaged in “for itself because of the pleasure or interest which it inspires in us intrinsically considered in itself, as an end in itself, with no ulterior views.”
Huizinga, Homo Ludens, 5-6. In fact, he discerned the play element in activities which, by his definition, could not include it: art, war, law, even business. “It seems not so much that civilization lives through play, but rather that play lives despite civilization. Huizinga himself says that as culture develops and civilization becomes more complex, the element of play recedes.” Alex Trotter, review of Homo Ludens, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed No. 46 (16)(2) (Fall-Winter 1998-1999), 12, 15.
Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, in a Series of Letters, trans. Reginald Snell (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954), 133.
Ibid., 43-45, 70 n. 1. Obviously Schiller was heavily influenced by Kant.
Ibid., 74; see also Alasdair Clayre, Work and Play: Ideas and Experience of Work and Leisure (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), ch. 2, esp. at 20-21. “The true end of Man,” according to Wilhelm von Humboldt, “is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.” Its two conditions are freedom and “a variety of conditions.” The Limits of State Action, ed. J.W. Burrow (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1993), 10. This part of the book was published – by Schiller – in New Thalia (1792). The book itself was published posthumously.
Friedrich Schiller, “Letters to Prince Frederick Christian von Hardenburg,” in On the Aesthetic Education of Man, trans. Keith Tribe (n.p.: Penguin Classics, 2016), 152. Herbert Marcuse also called for a “new rationality of gratification in which reason and instinct can unite.” Eros and Civilization (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1964), 224.
Fourier, Harmonian Man, 181.
In William Morris’s utopia, idleness is considered a medical condition. News from Nowhere or An Epoch of Rest (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 33.
Black, Nightmares of Reason, 43.
Josef Pieper, Leisure, The Basis of Culture, trans. Gerald Malsbary (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 1998), 5.
Parker, Leisure and Work, 3-4; Charles K. Brightbill, The Challenge of Leisure (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1963), 4.
Brightbill, Challenge of Leisure, 3.
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. J.H.K. Thomson, rev. Hugh Tredennick (London: Penguin Books, 2004), 271. He also thought that contemplation was the best use of leisure.
“Politics,” The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 2: 2028.
De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 5-6; e.g., Pieper, Leisure, chs. 1-5 (Pieper was a Catholic theologian).
Noel Pitts & Sylvia Fleis Fava, Urban Society (New York: Crowell, 1963), 411.
Parker, Leisure and Work, 6.
Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958), 264 n. 24, quoted in Pieper, Leisure, 4.
Benjamin Kline Hunnicut, Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work (Philadelphia, PA: Pennsylvania University Press, 1988), 1.
Henry W. Durant, The Problem of Leisure (London: Routledge, 1938); George Barton Cutten, The Threat of Leisure (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1926). Leisure was not a problem in 1938!
De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 276.
A.J. Veal, The Elusive Leisure Society, Working Paper 9, School of Leisure, Sport and Tourism, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia (4th ed. 2009), available online at
Hugh Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, c. 1780-c. 1880 (London: Croom Helm, 1980), 91.
Ibid., 137.
Ibid., 184-85.
A.J. Veal, Leisure and the Future (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987), 123.
Or as a former girlfriend called it, “the War Channel.”
E.g., W.D. Howells, “A Traveller from Altruria,” The Altrurian Romances (Bloomington, IN & London: Indiana University Press, 1968), 158, 167 (originally 1894).
Morris, “Useful Work,” 87; Why Work? 36.
Paul Goodman, “Utopian Thinking,” Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), 3-22 (Goodman, an anarchist and a genuine utopian, was skeptical about this intellectual fashion). “The Age of Complacency is ending. Let the old women complain wisely about ‘the end of ideology.’ We are beginning to move again.” “Letter to the New Left,” Power, Politics and People: The Collected Essays of C. Wright Mills, ed. Irving L. Horowitz (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 259, quoted in Fredy Perlman, The Incoherence of the Intellectual: C. Wright Mills’ Struggle to Unite Knowledge and Action (Detroit, MI: Black & Red, 1970), 95-96.
Jean-Marie Brohm, Sport – A Prison of Measured Time, trans. Ian Fraser (London: Ink Links, 1978).
Deconstructing Sport History: A Postmodern Analysis, ed. Murray G. Phillips (Albany, NY: State University of New York at Albany Press, 2006).
C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959), ch. 3.
R.E. Allen & D.K. Hawes, “Attitudes Toward Work, Leisure and the Four-Day Week,” Human Resources Management (Spring 1979): 5-10. 14% thought that they had sufficient leisure time; 36% did not. 50% were uncertain! I’ll bet a lot of them have made up their minds by now.
Cunningham, Leisure in the Industrial Revolution, 12 (referring to the word “leisure”).
Movie buffs will recall Freedonia from the Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup. The mayor of Fredonia (a different spelling) wrote in, demanding that they change the name of the movie, as there had never been a “blot” on the town’s good name. Groucho Marx replied: “Your Excellency: Our advice is that you change the name of your town. It is hurting our picture.” Quoted in Joe Adamson, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo (New York:Simon & Schuster, 1973). The Marx Brothers had not heard of the town until after the release of the movie.
Illich, Shadow Work, 105.
Paul N. Morris, Roasting the Pig: A Vision of Cluny, Cockaigne and the Treatise of Garcia of Toledo (Boca Raton, FL:, 2001), Appendix A: “The Land of Cockaigne in Medieval Poetry,” 92-106. A famous American example of the genre is “The Big Rock Candy Mountains.” “A Tramp’s Utopia,” in Berneri, Journey through Utopia, 318-19. I worry that the mountains might be strip-mined. “There used to be a kind of person in America who openly proclaimed his aversion to work”: the hobo. De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 50; see also Nels Anderson (himself a onetime hobo), The Hobo: The Sociology of the Homeless Man (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1923).
Murray Bookchin, “Whither Anarchism? A Reply to Recent Anarchist Critics,” Anarchism, Marxism, and the Future of the Left: Interviews and Essays, 1993-1998 (Edinburgh, Scotland & San Francisco, CA: AK Press, 1999), 187. Bookchin is like the Catholic prelate Cardinal Bellermine who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope at the moons of Jupiter because he knew they weren’t there.
David Kaplan, “The Darker Side of the ‘Original Affluent Society,’” Journal of Anthropological Research 56(2) (Summer 2000), 303. Another anthropologist speaks of it, resentfully, as a “fashionable idea.” David Riches, Northern Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers: A Humanistic Approach (London: Academic Press, 1982), 9.
E.g., Carol R Umber, Melvin Umber & Peter N. Peregrine, Anthropology (10th ed.; Saddle River, NJ: PrenticeHall, 2002), 273.
Bob Black, Nightmares of Reason, 139-150; Black, Anarchy after Leftism, ch. 8; see also John Zerzan, “Future Primitive,” Future Primitive and Other Essays (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1994), 29-32 & accompanying footnotes.
Richard Borshay Lee, The !Kung San: Men, Women, and Work in a Foraging Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), ch. 9; see also Richard Borshay Lee, The Dobi Ju/’Hoansi (2d ed.; Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt College Publishers, 1993), 56-60 (there is a 4th ed. 2012).
Jiri Tanaka, The San: Hunter-Gatherers of the Kalahari: A Study in Ecological Anthropology (Tokyo, Japan: University of Tokyo, 1980), 77; Lorna Marshall, The !Kung of Nyae Nyae (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976) (based on fieldwork in the 1950’s, before Lee and the other Harvard anthropologists arrived); Susan Kent, “Hunting Variability at a Recently Sedentarized Kalahari Village,” in Cultural Diversity Among Twentieth-Century Foragers, ed. Susan Kent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).
James Woodburn, “An Introduction to Hadza Ecology,” in Man the Hunter, ed. Richard B. Lee & Irvin DeVore (Chicago, IL: Aldine, 1968), 54; Sahlins, “Domestic Mode of Production I,” 55.
Pierre Clastres, Society Against the State: The Leader as Servant and the Humane Uses of Power Among the Indians of the Americas, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Urizen Books, Mole Editions, 1974), 164.
Marshall Sahlins, “The Original Affluent Society,” Stone Age Economics (New York: Aldine de Gruter, 1972), 1-39; Sahlins, “The Domestic Mode of Production I,” ibid., 51-69; C.W.M. Hart & Arnold R. Pilling, The Tiwi of North Australia (2d ed.; New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1960), 39, 45.
Rogelio M. Lopez, Agricultural Practices of the Manobo in the Interior of Southwest Cotabato (Mindanao) (Cebu City, Philippines: The University of San Carlos (Divine Word University), 1968), 23, 73. They produce a surplus of rice and corn. Ibid., 23, 74. “The working time of the Manobo is affected by two factors: climatic conditions and the Manobo take-your-time attitude.” Ibid., 23. Like the Kpelle, the Manobo practice dry rice farming.
Calvin Martin, Keepers of the Game: Indian-Animal Relationships and the Fur Trade (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978), 72, 115, 126.
Ed. Richard B. Lee & Richard Daley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
Lopez, Agricultural Practices of the Manobo, 49-50 (emphasis added).
Ibid., 50. The concept of “profits from the farm [is] unknown to them. A direct inquiry regarding this matter cannot be answered by them satisfactorily.” How strange. Lopez manfully tried to estimate costs of production but he was against thwarted: “Land rent is not included in the table as the Manobo get their land free. Management cost is also not included because actually, the one who is supposed to manage the farm is just like any ordinary worker. Everyone in the working group knows how to proceed and does not need any overseer.” Ibid. I’m not making this up!
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward, 2000-1887 (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 47-48.
Richard B. Lee, “What Hunters Do for a Living, or, How to Make Out on Scarce Resources,” in Man the Hunter, 36, quoted in Sahlins, “The Domestic Mode of Production I,” 53.
H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia (New York: The Modern Library, 1951), 315.
Mark R. Jenike, “Nutritional Ecology,” in Hunter-Gatherers: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, ed. Catherine Painter-Brick, Robert H. Layton & Peter Rowly-Conwy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 220-21. It is interesting that women work less than men (on average, of course) in every category of pre-industrial work.
Lauriston Sharp, “People without Politics,” in Systems of Political Control and Bureaucracy in Human Societies, ed. Verne F. Ray (Seattle, WA: University of Seattle Press, 1958), 6.
Hugh Ashton, The Basuto (2d ed.; London: Oxford University Press for the International African Institute, 1967), 131.
Morelly, “Nature’s Domain,” in French Utopias, 94.
Tomasso Companella, The City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue, trans. Daniel J. Donno (Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1981), 83 (originally 1602).
Ann Oakley, Woman’s Work: The Housewife, Past and Present (New York: Pantheon Books, 1974), 11. A basic utopian theme: “The distinction between work and non-work seems to be eroding away in Ecotopia, along with our whole concept of jobs as something separate from life.” Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia (New York: Bantam Books, 1990), 173 (originally1975). You can’t tell when a Utopian is working or at leisure. Ibid., 172.
Polly Wiessner, “Risk, Reciprocity and Social Influences on !Kung San,” in amazon>0521284120|Politics and History in Band Societies, ed. Eleanor Leacock & Richard Lee (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press & Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences d l’Homme, 1982), 79.
Lucy Mair, Primitive Government (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 65, quoted in Bob Black, “More Modesty All Around: on Barclay’s The State,” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed No. 63 (24)(2) (Spring-Summer 2007), 56.
Marshall D. Sahlins, Tribesmen (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968), 21.
“Under an Elm-Tree; or Thoughts in the Countryside,” Political Writings of William Morris, ed. A.L. Morton (New York: International Publishers, 1973), 225.
“Useful Work versus Useless Toil,” in ibid., 95 (emphasis added).
Noam Chomsky, Occupy (Brooklyn, NY: Zuccotti Park Press, 2012), 59, quoted in Black, “Chomsky on the Nod,” 164.
Lewis Mumford, The Story of Utopias (New York: The Viking Press, 1962), 307 (originally 1930).
Joseph Dietzgen, “Scientific Socialism,” Philosophical Essays, ed. Eugene Dietzgen & Joseph Dietzgen, Jr. (Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr & Company,1912), 89 (originally 1873).
Jean Barrot & Francois Martin, Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Communist Movement (Detroit, MI: Black & Red, 1974), 50.
John Zerzan, “Postscript to Future Primitive Re: The Transition,” Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (Los Angeles, CA: Feral House, 2002), 115-19.
John Zerzan, “Future Primitive,” Future Primitive and Other Essays (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia & Columbia, MO: Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, 1994), 28.
Zerzan, “Postscript,” 116-17.
Ibid., 118.
Ibid., 118-19.
“To make a social revolution, people as they now are must make a revolution out of existing materials. Revolution requires continuity. But for it to count as a social revolution, people must live in a new and qualitatively different way. Revolution requires discontinuity.” “Why Not Call a Holiday?” Instead of Work, 116-17 [VII].
Lafargue, Right to Be Lazy, 3.
“True enough we live in a time when labor is praised in a most fantastic manner. But these panegyrics seldom come from the working class.” Sadakichi Hartman, White Chrysanthemums, ed. George Knox & Harry Lawton (New York: Herder & Herder, 1971), 69 (originally circa 1905).
Plato, Republic, trans. G.M.A. Grube, rev. C.D.C. Reeve (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992), 169. The private individual who does his own work is without honor. Ibid., 291.
Wells, A Modern Utopia, 154; Russell, “Ín Praise of Idleness,” 17.
E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Vintage Books, 1963), 354-59 & passim.
Tilgher, Work through the Ages, 88-89
Hesiod, “Works and Days,” in Theogony and Works and Days, trans. Catherine M. Schlegel & Henry Weinfield (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2006), 57-83.
Tilgher, Work through the Ages, 3-50 (quotation at 50). Luther was “the true inventor of the modern doctrine that there is something inherently dignified and praiseworthy about labor, that the man who bears the burden in the heat of the day is somehow more pleasing to God than the man who takes his ease in the shade.” H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomethy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949), 107.
Frederick Engels, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific,” in Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, Selected Works in One Volume (New York: International Publishers, 1968), 388. “Calvin’s creed was fit for the boldest of the bourgeoisie of his time.” Ibid. In discussing the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism, Engels antedates Weber by a generation.
Tilgher, Work through the Ages, 57-90, 141-48 (quotations are at 57, 58).
H.L. Mencken, Treatise on Right and Wrong (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934), 28. “’Socialist man’ looked suspiciously like Taylorism run wild.” Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism (London: Verso, 1983), 87.
As evidenced by a book title: Murray Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years, 1868-1936 (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1978). This is his least bad book.
Ibid., 2.
Michael Seidman, Workers Against Work: Labor in Paris and Barcelona During the Popular Fronts (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1991), chs. 2-3.
Ibid., 42.
Ibid., 80.
Ibid., chs. 6 & 7.
Ibid., 99. “Most who were sent to prisons or work camps were convicted on political charges – which included violating public order, possessing arms [!], and engaging in fascist activities.” Ibid., 101. Forced labor for criminals and class enemies still has its anarchist advocates today. Black, “An Anarchist Response to ‘The Anarchist Response to Crime,’” Defacing the Currency, 193-216. I wronged Scott W. of the Insurgency Collective when I wrote that no anarchist before him ever advocated prisons and forced labor for criminals.
In addition to the chapters on Barcelona workers (chs. 1-7), Seidman wrote about the parallel struggle by the Parisian workers against a Popular Front government with a Socialist head of state (chs. 8-13).
Russell, “In Praise of Idleness,” 27.
“Useful Work versus Useless Toil,” Political Writings of William Morris, 86; reprinted in Why Work? 35.
Daniel Bell, “Work and Its Discontents: The Cult of Efficiency in America,” The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1960); de Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 54-55.
Herbert G. Gutman, “Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919,” Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), 4.
Herbert G. Gutman, Slavery and the Numbers Game: A Critique of “Time on the Cross” (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1975), 14-41, reprinted in idem, Power & Culture: Essays on the American Working Class, ed. Ira Berlin (New York: The New Press, 1987): 312-325.
Peter Kelvin & Joanna E. Jarrett, Unemployment: Its Social Psychological Effects (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 104.
“Beyond Good and Evil,” Basic Writings of Nietzsche, trans. & ed. Walter Kaufmann (New York: The Modern Library, 1968), 292.
Ed. Robert A. Giacalone & Carole L. Jurkiewicz (Armont, NY & London: M.E. Sharpe, 2003). One might make crude jokes about their names, but I am above all that. I stopped doing that sort of thing several weeks ago.
Robert A. Giacalone & Carole L. Jurkiewicz, “Towards a Science of Workplace Spirituality,” ibid., 13 (screaming italics omitted). A science!
Tying wages to productivity.
Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, “Towards a Science of Workplace Spirituality,” 10.
Godard, Industrial Relations, 146-152. It’s amazing how it’s is all coming together.
Ibid., 157.
Georges Clemenceau said that war was too important to be left to the generals. Work is too important to be left to the workerists. I am willing to leave it to the workers, but not to the workerists.
Michael Bakunin, “Principles and Organization of the International Brotherhood,” Selected Writings, ed. Arthur Lehning (New York: Grove Press, Evergreen Books, 1974), 79 (originally 1866).
Ibid., 78. Those adults able but not willing to work would be deprived of their political rights. Ibid., 68. They “shall likewise lose the right to rear and keep their children.” Ibid., 69. “But compulsory labour is the last road that can lead to Socialism. It estranges the man from the community, destroys his joy in his daily work, and stifles that sense of personal responsibility without which there can be no talk of Socialism at all.” Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), 97 (originally 1938). The “Platformist” anarchists in the 1920’s, invoking Bakunin, advocated universal forced labor. The Group of Russian Anarchists Abroad, “Supplement to the Organizational Platform (Questions and Answers) November 2, 1926,” reprinted in Alexandre Skirda, Facing the Enemy: A History of Anarchist Organization from Proudhon to May 1968, trans. Paul Sharkey (Edinburgh, Scotland & Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2002), 223. On the Organizational Platform, see Bob Black, “Wooden Shoes or Platform Shoes: On The Organizational Platform of the Libertarian Communists,” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed No. 54 (20)(2) (Winter 2002-2003): 14-15, 19; Lawrence Jarach, “Anarcho-Communism, Platformism, and Dual Power: Innovation or Travesty?” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed No 54. (20)(2) (Winter 2002-2003): 41-45. On AK Press, see Bob Black, “Class Struggle Social Democrats or, The Press of Business,” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed No. 64 (25)(2) (Fall-Winter 2007): 26-29.
See fn. 1 & accompanying text.
“Peter Kropotkin: Recollections and Criticisms by One of His Old Friends,” The Method of Freedom: An Errico Malatesta Reader, ed. Davide Turcato (Oakland, CA & Baltimore, MD: AK Press, 2014), 518.
De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 136.
Juliet B. Schor, The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (New York: Basic Books, 1992), 18. “One out of every three professional and technical employees, managers, and administrators works 49 or more hours a week [as of 1977], compared with one out of six blue-collar craft and kindred workers and operatives.” Levitan & Belous, Shorter Hours, Shorter Weeks (Baltimore, MD & London: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1977), 75.
Bryan E. Robinson, Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them (3d ed.; New York & London: New York University Press, 2014), 18.
Ibid., 19.
John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy (8th ed.; London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer, 1878), 1: 163.
De Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure, 89.
Lafargue, Right to Be Lazy, 39 n. 13.
Richard Mackenney, Tradesmen and Traders: The World of the Guilds in Venice and Europe, c. 1250- c. 1650 (London & Sydney, Australia: Croom Helm, 1987), 17.
Benjamin Kline Hunnicut, Work Without End: Abandoning Shorter Hours for the Right to Work (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1988), 9, 147.
Ibid., 1.
Levitan & Belous, Shorter Hours, Shorter Weeks, 74-75.
Martin Glaberman, Wartime Strikes: The Struggle Against the No Strike Pledge During World War II (London: Bewick Editions, 1980).
Hunnicut, Work Without End, 2.
Schor, The Overworked American, 8-32.
Nels Anderson, Work and Leisure (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1961), 156. And this from a hobo turned sociologist!
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, “A Case Study of Technological and Social Change: The Washing Machine and the Working Wife,” in Clio’s Consciousness Raised: New Perspectives on the History of Women, ed. Mary Hartmann & Lois W. Banner (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1974), 248-49.
Oakley, Women’s Work, 7.
Ibid., 92.
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave (n.p. [New York]: Basic Books, 1983), 199.
bid., 201; see also Susan Strasser, Never Done: A History of American Housework (New York: Henry Holt & Co., Holt Paperbacks, 2013) (originally 1982).
Cf. Alexander Trocchi, “Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds,” Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds: A Trocchi Reader, ed. Andrew Murray Scott (Edinburgh, Scotland: Polygon, 1991), 180-81.
Ibid., 213.
Hunnicut, Work Without End, 9.
166) , 167)
Ibid., 147.
Ibid., ch. 6.
Ibid., ch. 8.
Ibid., 79.
Ibid., 2.
Levitan & Belous, Shorter Hours, Shorter Weeks, 2.
Jonathan Cutler, Labor’s Time: Shorter Hours, the UAW, and the Struggle for American Unionism (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004), 6. Auto Work and Its Discontents, ed. B.J. Widick (Baltimore, MD & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), written by former UAW officials, never mentions hours of work.
Cutler, Labor’s Time, 159.
Ibid., 15.
Ibid., 181.
Stanley Aronowitz & William DeFazio, The Jobless Future (2d ed.; Minneapolis, MN & London: University of Minneapolis Press, 2010), xviv.
Seymour Martin Lipset, “Introduction” to Robert Michels, Political Parties (New York: Dover Books, 1959), —; Seymour Martin Lipset, Martin A. Trow, & James S. Coleman, Union Democracy (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1956), 3; Seymour Martin Lipset, Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics (New York: Doubleday, 1960), 357-99; Black, “Chomsky on the Nod,” 152-53.
John Zerzan, “Organized Labor vs. ‘The Revolt Against Work,’” Elements of Refusal (2d rev. ed.; Columbia, MO: C.A.L. Press/Paleo Editions & Eugene, OR: A.A.A., 1999), 185-198; Ken Weller, The Lordstown Struggle and the Real Crisis in Production (London: London Solidarity, [date unknown]), available online at
Stanley Aronowitz & Jonathan Cutler, “Quitting Time: an Introduction,” in Post-Work: The Wages of Cybernation, ed. Stanley Cutler & Jonathan Cutler (New York & London: Routledge, 1998), 2.
Cutler, Labor’s Time, 1-2.
Schor, The Overworked American, 141.
William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, ed. Mark Philp (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 423 (originally 1793).
“In the economic foundations of the Republic we look in vain for a recognition of the labor problem.” Mumford, Story of Utopias, 34.
More, Utopia, 37; see also Mumford, Story of Utopias, 66. But there would be annually only 62 holidays. Ibid., 79. Contrary to some modern interpretations, his Utopia was not a satire (what was he satirizing?), nor was he just playing a clever intellectual game with his Humanist friends. His critique of private property is as sincere as it is devastating. J.H. Hexter, More’s Utopia: The Biography of an Idea (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965).
Tomasso Campanella, The City of the Sun: A Poetical Dialogue, trans. Daniel J. Donno (Berkeley & Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1981), 65 (originally1623); Granville Hicks & Richard M. Bennett, The First to Awaken (New York: Modern Age Books, 1940), 72; B.F. Skinner, Walden Two (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1982), 59 (originally 1948).
Godwin, Political Justice, 432-33.
Robert Owen, “A Sketch of Some of the Errors and Evils Resulting From the Past and Present State of Society (1817),” A New View of Society and Other Writings, ed. Gregory Claeys (London: Penguin Books, 1991), 168.
Mumford, Story of Utopias, 155. Cabet obviously contemplates a mainly agrarian society where work is seasonal.
Joaquin Miller, The Building of the City Beautiful (Cambridge, MA & Chicago, IL: Stone & Kimball, 1893); Henry Olerich, A Cityless and Countryless World (Holstein, IA: Gilmore & Olerich, 1893), both discussed in Vernon Louis Parrington, Jr., American Dreams: A Study of American Utopias (2d ed., enl.; New York: Russell & Russell, 1964).
Howells, “A Traveller from Altruria,” 172.
Alexander Berkman, What Is Communist Anarchism? (New York: Dover Publications, 1972), 203 (originally 1929).
Aldous Huxley, Island (New York: HarperCollins, Perennial Classics, 2002) (originally 1962), 173-74.
Skinner, Walden Two, 52, 59; see also B.F. Skinner, “Some Issues Concerning the Control of Human Behavior,” Cumulative Record: A Selection of Papers (3d ed.; New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1972), 32-33.
Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia.
Marie Louise Berneri, Journey through Utopia (London: Freedom Press, 1982), 34, 112. Andreae was a Lutheran pastor—and Hermetic philosopher—who spun the tale of the Rosicrucians, supposedly a humanistic, esoteric, enlightened secret society. Frances A. Yates, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (London & Boston, MA: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972), 60-69.
Huey Pierce Long, My First Days in the White House (Harrisburg, PA: The Telegraph Press, 1935), 139.
Ursula K. LeGuin, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (New York: HarperPaperbacks, 1991), 187 (originally 1974). Some doctors, however, work 8 hours a day! Ibid., 121. This might well be many doctors’ utopian dream. This was not the original ending, but something suggested by science fiction critic Darko Suvin.
Michael Moorcock, “Starship Stormtroopers,” Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed Nos. 72/73 (n.d.), 90.
Lester del Ray, “Reading Room,” If, Aug. 1974, 144-45.
Murray Bookchin, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Practice of Direct Democracy (New York & London: Verso, 2015).
“The philosophy which put the fear of death into infamy in the eighteenth century, despite all the book-burnings and piles of corpses, chose to serve that very infamy under Napoleon.” Max Horkheimer & Theodor W. Adorno, “Introduction,” Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Continuum, 1993), xii (originally 1944).
Ibid., “Excursus II: Juliette or Enlightenment and Morality,” 81-119.
Janet Biehl, “Bookchin’s Break with Anarchism” (2007), available online at &
For references to “social ecology” as far back as 1930, see Black, Nightmares of Reason, 18-19 n. 49.
Social Ecology after Bookchin, ed. Andrew Light (New York: Guilford Publications, 1999); David Watson, Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a Future Social Ecology (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia & Detroit, MI: Black & Red, 1996). These titles reflected an impatience widely felt: that it was time for Bookchin to shut up and get out of the way.
Murray Bookchin, “Thinking Ecologically: A Dialectical Approach,” Our Generation 18(2) (March 1987), 3, quoted in Black, Anarchy after Leftism, 18, and Black, Nightmares of Reason, 15. I can’t quote this too often!
Ursula K. Le Guin, “On Not Reading Science Fiction,” Hainish Novels & Stories, ed. Brian Attebery (New York: The Library of America, 2017), 2: 758.
See Black, Nightmares of Reason, 17 n. 46.
Donald F. Busky, Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union (Westport, CT & London: Praeger, 2002), 105-106.
Black, “Chomsky on the Nod,” 62-64 & passim.