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Answer to Jo

November 16, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

From a reader, Jo Jordan:

But what do you want to do? Life like sex is not a spectator sport. What is your call to action and why would I benefit on[e] jot by going on your journey with you? I say this only because you evidently have energy. What must be DONE and what part will YOU do?

Our Answer:


You have an interesting way of putting things: What is MY call to action? Why would YOU benefit by going on MY journey?

I am not selling anything. Shorter working time will not clean your clothes better than Tide, nor make your breath minty fresh.

We are standing on the edge of one of the most profound changes in the history of the human race. The change will be as confusing and unprecedented as that experienced by our ancestors when agriculture gave way to industry.

We are about to become a post-economic society.

What is a post-economic society. It is a society characterized by abundance, not scarcity. One in which work no longer plays the role of organizing human action. In which work becomes an option, not a necessity of life.

Thinkers have long predicted this change – most clearly Karl Marx.

Let us look at how this is happening:

1. Capitalism destroys work – it creates work also, of course, but ultimately the drive to enhance profits at the expense of labor destroys the necessity for work. This is not an accident, or a flaw in the way capitalism works – it is the essential process taking place under our noses at this very moment. It is the reason we don’t spend more time with farm animals – capitalism gobbled up all of agriculture and converted it to an industrial occupation of a handful of people. Even in a place like China, where industry is growing at a very fast rate, work is, for that same reason, being destroyed at a still faster pace than it is being created.

2. Unless working time is reduced in proportion as this process unfolds economic dislocation occurs. In China, where the pace of this process is happening at a rapid clip, those dislocations will be all the more violent and extreme. Since we are now globalized, we will feel the effects of this. And, eventually, global economic activity itself will come to a halt – with all the catastrophic effects that scenario implies. My call to action is, first, that you understand this, and understand why the reduction and eventual abolition of work is inevitable.

3. It is impossible for the global economy to sustain a longer than necessary work time when work itself is being abolished. Logic dictates that we understand this and begin to approach working time in a flexible fashion. The idea of a job, as exists in America, as something necessarily consisting of 40 hours per week is an anachronism – worse, an abortion which never should have been conceived in the first place. If our government did not have its own agenda – Full Spectrum Dominance – Washington would be reducing hours of work now, and putting in place the gradual reduction of hours of work as productivity improved. It costs nothing, add nothing to the public debt, and requires little or no supervision.

4. I don’t bank on Washington recognizing economic reality , however – it really is not consistent with the American preference to muddle through disasters rather than facing and solving them. That stated, I think this disaster is inevitable. I hate saying that, but we seem to be too committed to the existing unsustainable course to easily change. Perhaps this will change over the next several years.There are no easy answers or shortcuts to this process. If the possibility of positive change emerges it must take the form of an international social movement, not unlike the movement to address the environmental degradation occurring side by side with this unemployment cataclysm. It must be social not political, and hold all government to account; global not national, and impose equally on every government; and must have as its target the American Empire, which is the root source of the resistance to shorter working time. It is this empire, with its triple burden of trade, government, and consumer debt, which, by absorbing the superfluous product of virtually every other nation, and China in particular, makes it possible for longer than necessary working time to be maintained in all of them.

Now if you could figure out a way for us to put that on a bumper-sticker, we would be grateful.

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