Anti-work Movement a Recipe for Disaster

 

On Fox News recently, the leader of an “anti-work subreddit“ with over 100,000 followers, caused a stir by claiming that “laziness” was a virtuous lifestyle choice, which should be freely available. She depicted work as a form of oppression that the woke are justified in resisting in principle. The guest was a part-time dog walker who hoped to someday to “teach philosophy.”

Shrug this off at your peril. Like many other threads now coursing their way through our culture (CRT, BLM, MMT, etc.), anti-work has deep roots in Marxist ideology.

In “The Abolition of Work,” Marxist author Bob Black decades ago argued that the only way for humans to be free is to reclaim their time from jobs, the “source of most of the misery in the world.” “No one should ever work.”

Instead, they should indulge in voluntary free play. Only thus could they avoid the subordination and degradation of the workplace. Nietzsche argued that work “uses of a tremendous amount of nervous energy and takes away from reflection, brooding, dreaming…”

It’s not just goofy dog walkers or cranky proto-communists in the anti-work bandwagon today. Relief measures implemented when our response to Covid dried up the jobs markets are no longer necessary, yet a great many Americans are simply disdaining a lifestyle that includes working. 4.5 million people quit their jobs in November alone. There are currently 12 million jobs available. Services are becoming harder to obtain and empty shelves are popping up

But work from the beginning has been a cornerstone of American culture. America and Canada were settled by Europeans who came to stay and create a better life. Land and other resources were plentiful here but labor was scarce, so work was necessary to survive and prosper.

In Europe, idleness was admired. Gentlemen were hereditary landowners who believed work was a humiliating sign of failure, best left to the masses.

In America, by contrast, work was honored and rewarded. Common people could become landowners simply by “working” the land. Small farmers, shopkeepers, and artisans, workers all, were the backbone of the economy.

De Tocqueville in the 1830s noted the astonishing industriousness of Americans. “An honest day’s work for a day’s pay” was the prevailing code of conduct.

With a productive private sector and a modest, non-intrusive government, America prospered unimaginably, transforming itself from just another British colony to a worldwide beacon of opportunity and prosperity.

But work provided more than material comforts. It endowed each worker with dignity, a sense of self-worth, and personal agency. Each citizen could take justifiable pride in providing for and protecting their family.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many Americans dreaded material poverty less than the loss of dignity from not working. Written materials from that time confirm that severe economic hardship was considered temporary and survivable, but loss of dignity crippled the human spirit.

We now know that both economic prosperity and dignity eventually survived. But today the connection between work and dignity seems to be diminished. Dignity itself seems to have fallen out of style. Our leaders emphasize made-up rights, inequality, and income guarantees, but dignity is mostly ignored.

In the 1990s, the Contract with America implicitly established the notion that the Great Society welfare programs of 30 years previous had been a colossal failure. By disconnecting beneficiaries from work, they had consigned generations of Americans to lives of dependency and poverty of spirit.

The reforms enacted by the states consisted mostly of work requirements for able-bodied adults on welfare. Despite their success, over time the requirements have gradually been eroded by the hostile bureaucracy that administers welfare programs.

Now Democrats, once the party of work and workers, are seeking to eliminate work requirements altogether. Work is seen as an injustice that particularly minorities and poor people shouldn’t have to endure.

Unless workers work, there are no goods and services produced and the standard of living falls for all. A society where citizens vie to avoid work and live off the productivity of others, and where politicians scramble to accommodate them, is in danger. Ahead lies chronic economic weakness and vulnerability to tyranny.

Published in Economics
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There are 12 comments.

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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    @tompatterson, what you say is true and shouldn’t need to be said, but in the present circumstances, it is probably necessary to state those obvious truths. We are living in strange times. The dignity of work was once a pretty much universally accepted principle.

    • #1
  2. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I first heard of this “anti-work” movement a couple of weeks ago. I value and appreciate the noble nature of work, and even consider work to be part of worshiping God.

    But when I first heard of “anti-work” I had some more prosaic questions. Do the “anti-work” advocates have any answers to basic survival questions?

    How do the “anti-work” people expect to have  a couch or chair from which to watch their endless Netflix shows? I suppose they could watch nothing but repeats of already made shows, but somehow I suspect they will someday want new shows to watch. How will those get made? Do they expect to have a shelter in which to live? How will that come into being? If they expect an enclosed shelter, do they expect it to be heated or cooled? Or even more basic, from where do they expect to get food to eat so they avoid literally starving to death?

    I know there are some really stupid people out there, and others who are either incapable or unwilling to think through consequences of their ideas. But the “anti-work” idea is so idiotic that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone over the age of 4 thinking it’s viable. 

    • #2
  3. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    This is actually a very important issue. Not only important but dangerous. 

    I know of many employees of companies who somehow think that they really don’t have to or shouldn’t have to work so much because the government will somehow take care of them.  This idea has spread  among our young and some not so young like a wild fire.  It’s like an insidious disease, and there is no use arguing with those who are infected. 

    Full Size: the “anti-work” idea is so idiotic that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone over the age of 4 thinking it’s viable. 

    Right you are,  but these people  have been raised and schooled to be  absolutely clueless about how life works and  the Commie Democrats are stoking this nonsense; trying to ride this ridiculous idea all the way to implementing a generous Universal Basic Income for all the right people or what is really full bore Police State Communism. 

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Tom Patterson: On Fox News recently, the leader of an “anti-work subreddit“ with over 100,000 followers, caused a stir by claiming that “laziness” was a virtuous lifestyle choice, which should be freely available. She depicted work as a form of oppression that the woke are justified in resisting in principle. The guest was a part-time dog walker who hoped to someday to “teach philosophy.”

    HE.  That was a man.  We don’t have to entertain his laughable laziness and we don’t have to entertain his debilitating mental illness.

    • #4
  5. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Tom Patterson: But work provided more than material comforts. It endowed each worker with dignity, a sense of self-worth, and personal agency. Each citizen could take justifiable pride in providing for and protecting their family.

    I highly recommend Shop Class as Soulcraft.  It’s what that awful Pirsig book tried to be, but not written by a crazy person with an axe to grind.

    • #5
  6. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Full Size: the “anti-work” idea is so idiotic that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone over the age of 4 thinking it’s viable

    Right you are,  but these people  have been raised and schooled to be  absolutely clueless about how life works and  the Commie Democrats are stoking this nonsense; trying to ride this ridiculous idea all the way to implementing a generous Universal Basic Income for all the right people or what is really full bore Police State Communism. 

    Here is where the rub lies. Jordan Peterson seems to nail this (along with several other great thinkers today – Thomas Sowell, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, Candace Owens, etc.). We are looking at an extreme and accepted infantilization of our population and culture. Every generation faces the ‘I never want to grow up’ phenomenon but until recently it hasn’t been culturally accepted.

    There is much consternation as to the cause. The most common thread I pick up on is that a generation, or more, in a self-indulgent, over-protective, tax-subsidized, unaccountable, left-dominated education system is largely to blame. In this system, for the most part, youth are encouraged to shirk off the difficult yoke of eventual personal accountability and responsibility. Long-term consequences shown through history are rarely considered, and if they are, be damned. Any failure and blame is displaced to the ever obscure “The Man” or “The System”.

    It is the essence of grievance studies and Marxist ideology. To the young, coddled and inexperienced mind this seems idyllic, utopian and sustainable. On it’s surface it is quite attractive. Combine this with maximum reward for obedience/non-confrontation between student/teacher (slave/master) the indoctrination is set early and deep. Thou shalt not ask the deeper or obvious questions.

    Our difficult question is: what is needed to wake them from their slumber? Beyond complete annihilation of western civilization, which seems to be the current path, what are the alternative strategies that might work?

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Unsk (View Comment):

    This is actually a very important issue. Not only important but dangerous.

    I know of many employees of companies who somehow think that they really don’t have to or shouldn’t have to work so much because the government will somehow take care of them. This idea has spread among our young and some not so young like a wild fire. It’s like an insidious disease, and there is no use arguing with those who are infected.

    Full Size: the “anti-work” idea is so idiotic that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone over the age of 4 thinking it’s viable.

    Right you are, but these people have been raised and schooled to be absolutely clueless about how life works and the Commie Democrats are stoking this nonsense; trying to ride this ridiculous idea all the way to implementing a generous Universal Basic Income for all the right people or what is really full bore Police State Communism.

    I’m stuck at an even more basic level. Even if the government is taking care of me, someone has to physically do something for that to happen. The grains and fruits growing out in the wild won’t walk themselves to my plate. Someone has to do work to do that. Even if you think the government should pay that person, someone has to do work if I’m going to eat. We can argue about how work should be managed, but work is necessary. 

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Don’t break faith with the good young people of Gen Z, and even the Millennials.  They’re dealing with the poop sammich served by Boomer to some extent Gen X.  Many of them are wise to what’s up — Gen Z in particular is trying to figure out next steps.

    They are there.  They have a lot of us to deal with, and a lot of their own cohort, and they need support.  They don;t have the benefit of remembering Freedom, but they’re trying to put the image together.

    • #8
  9. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    All good.  People who work get paid.  People who don’t work can beg or engage in theft.  Maybe we need these idiots to show just how insane the whole welfare system has become.  

    • #9
  10. hoowitts Coolidge
    hoowitts
    @hoowitts

    BDB (View Comment):
    They’re dealing with the poop sammich

    Gotta’ say, I love this phrase!

    BDB (View Comment):
    They don;t have the benefit of remembering Freedom, but they’re trying to put the image together.

    I appreciate the optimistic outlook but what will help them put this image together? Trump was bombastic, over-the-top, rude, combative yet necessary to extend freedom…but offends their sensibilities (even some of mine). They’ve been brainwashed to distrust anything remotely conservative. Republicans in power have earned their current “in name only” moniker so can’t be depended upon. Biden and current democrats in general display the antithesis of freedom. So will their image of freedom be derived from it’s absence? That’s a scary proposition considering they may have no healthy concept of what constitutes real-world freedom as a replacement.

    • #10
  11. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    I’ve discussed this with several different people and none of us have an answer to this question:  How are all these (non-retirement-age) people who have stopped working supporting themselves?  The extra-large unemployment checks stopped several months ago.  Are there just millions of additional people mooching off their families?  Are people selling off their possessions and crowding together into cheap apartments?  Just what are they doing to put food on the table?

    The laziness isn’t just among those who won’t work at all.  It certainly seems like a fair number of employed people don’t really care too much if they show up to work on time, or take an unscheduled day off.

    • #11
  12. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    Are there just millions of additional people mooching off their families?  Are people selling off their possessions and crowding together into cheap apartments?  Just what are they doing to put food on the table?

    They vote for it.

    • #12
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