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Anti-Work Anarchism

Submitted by foggymorn in antiwork (edited )

Many people here will probably be confused by how the term 'work' is being used. By work we do not mean work in the scientific sense which defines work as force being exerted over a distance, not do we mean any form of labor. What is meant by work in anti-work theory is alienated and/or forced labor. Forced labor is obviously just that, labor you are coerced into doing. The part about alienated labor is a bit more difficult. But put most simply it means dull and uninteresting labor.

The anti-work anarchist solution is to abolish work either through productive play or automation. Productive play is the process of turning certain tasks into play.

Abolishing work does not mean doing nothing. It means creating a new way of life, a lucid existence. Automation could also play a role and work could be abolished through the automation of all dirty, dull and dangerous tasks. I personally think automation is extremely important for abolishing work. Everything mundane, from cleaning toilets to mining should be automated. This would finally free us from toil and allow us to truly live spontaneously. However, while I think automation is extremely important, in and of itself it is not sufficient. Many of today’s tasks exist for the sake of work, or even worse reinforce bureaucracy. This by definition acts in the interest of power, hierarchy and authority. More specifically the state and capitalism. These tasks should obviously be abolished. Additionally remaining tasks should be transformed into productive play.

There are of course different views from different people within anti-work thought. Many are actually skeptical of automation, if not outright against it. While others like myself view it very positively. Many are anarcho-communists, while others advocate markets.

Many people are confused if anti-work theory rejects class struggle or labor struggle. I’m here to say it doesn’t. Firstly while I am anti-work I am not opposed to labor struggle. I think its worth noting that labor doesn’t necessarily equal work. Additionally while I am very critical of class reductionism, I think class struggle is an important part of anarchism. I would actually argue that anti-work is the logical extension of class struggle in many ways. I do not think class struggle ends at the factory door.

Anti-work anarchism is commonly associated with post-left anarchy, individualist anarchism more broadly, insurrectionist anarchism, contemporary anarcho-communism, social ecology and anarcho-transhumanism. However it is compatible with all forms of anarchism.

The most recognizable anti-work essay has to be Bob Black’s The Abolition of Work. In it he suggests that work is the source of nearly all misery in the world, and while this may be somewhat hyperbolic. I nonetheless think work must be abolished to destroy hierarchy and suffering. Life should be fun, not boring.

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RedEmmaSpeaks wrote

Another point regarding Work: the current idea governing it, is based around the idea of Constant Production. The obvious flaw is basically just as if you constantly devour chocolate cakes, you will eventually run out of chocolate cake, if you constantly use up resources, you'll eventually run out of resources.

Capitalism has only managed to keep going as long as it has, is because until recently, there were always new lands to expand to with new resources to exploit. The problem Capitalism is facing now, is that there are no new lands to expand to; it has effectively taken over the world, yet it is hemorrhaging resources at an even higher rate than it had in the past. Right now, Capitalism is trying to stay afloat by cannibalizing other capitalist nations, but there's an obvious flaw with that strategy.

In any case, we do need to ask why we must constantly produce new goods? We have effectively produce enough clothes so that every person on the planet, is capable of having the kind of wardrobe that would make a fictional teenager green with envy. We clearly have produced enough clothes that there's plenty for everyone and no real need to keep making more. Yet we do. And hey, I like t-shirts with cute sayings on them as much as the next person, but again, there's no need for there to be trillions of them.