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Bob Black’s indictment of work (meaning all unfree labor) is a good example of a liberatory essay, because not only does it advocate for real freedom, it also condemns the industrial systems of power which are forcing us to work, and to consume, to kill and invade, to oppress, to pollute, and to hate ourselves for being accomplices in our own slavery.
But Marx already did that with “Alienated Labour” in 1847. What makes Black’s essay 10 times better is that it isn’t a labor to read! Recognizing that social change is playful or it’s doomed to reproduce the slavery it claimed to oppose, Emma Goldman is quoted as saying “It’s not my revolution if I can’t dance to it.” Likewise, add to that “It’s not my ideology if I can’t laugh at it.”
No one should ever work.
Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.
That doesn’t mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new way of life based on play; in other words, a ludic revolution. By “play” I mean also festivity, creativity, conviviality, commensality, and maybe even art. There is more to play than child’s play, as worthy as that is. I call for a collective adventure in generalized joy and freely interdependent exuberance. Play isn’t passive. Doubtless we all need a lot more time for sheer sloth and slack than we ever enjoy now, regardless of income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion nearly all of us want to act.
The ludic life is totally incompatible with existing reality. So much the worse for “reality,” the gravity hole that sucks the vitality from the little in life that still distinguishes it from mere survival. Curiously — or maybe not — all the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work. Some of them, like Marxism and most brands of anarchism, believe in work all the more fiercely because they believe in so little else.
Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. Following Karl Marx’s wayward son-in-law Paul Lafargue I support the right to be lazy. Leftists favor full employment. Like the surrealists — except that I’m not kidding — I favor full unemployment. Trotskyists agitate for permanent revolution. I agitate for permanent revelry. But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate work — and not only because they plan to make other people do theirs — they are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages, hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity, profitability. They’ll gladly talk about anything but work itself. These experts who offer to do our thinking for us rarely share their conclusions about work, for all its saliency in the lives of all of us. Among themselves they quibble over the details. Unions and management agree that we ought to sell the time of our lives in exchange for survival, although they haggle over the price. Marxists think we should be bossed by bureaucrats. Libertarians think we should be bossed by businessmen. Feminists don’t care which form bossing takes so long as the bosses are women. Clearly these ideology-mongers have serious differences over how to divvy up the spoils of power. Just as clearly, none of them have any objection to power as such and all of them want to keep us working.
You may be wondering if I’m joking or serious. I’m joking and serious. Read the rest of this entry »
Declaration of Independence from Oil
July 4, 2007
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for the people to rid themselves of a government which has abandoned the sound principles upon which it was founded and that increasingly threatens their lives and liberties for the sake of the Oil Industry, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are born with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it. That when a long train of abuses and lies, pursuing invariably the same Middle Eastern Oil, threatens to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these American Citizens, along with the rest of the Peoples of the World. The History of the Government of the United States since the Second World War, fully exposed under the current King George II, is a history of repeated Imperial Adventures, all having in direct object the establishment of an Empire of Oil, founded upon a domestic Tyranny over these States, and a Colonial relationship with all peoples living in petroleum-rich areas of the Earth. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid audience. Read the rest of this entry »
Glad tidings from Baghdad at last. The Iraqi parliament has gone into summer recess without passing the oil law that Washington was pressing it to adopt. For the Bush administration this is irritating, since passage of the law was billed as a “benchmark” in its battle to get Congress not to set a timetable for US troop withdrawals. The political hoops through which the government of Nouri al-Maliki has been asked to jump were meant to be a companion piece to the US “surge”. Just as General David Petraeus, the current US commander, is due to give his report on military progress next month, George Bush is supposed to tell Congress in mid-September how the Maliki government is moving forward on reform. The signs are that, on both fronts, the administration will carry on playing for time. Bush and his officials are already suggesting they will maintain the surge for another year, and that Petraeus’s report will merely be an interim score card. It will not use the fateful Vietnam-era language of light at the end of the tunnel, but it will say progress is under way and therefore more congressional patience is needed.Similarly Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador in Baghdad, is playing down the urgency of the benchmarks. He has reminded the US media that Congress can take years to make reforms on complex issues such as immigration and healthcare. He argues it is unfair to expect the Iraqi parliament to do everything as fast as outsiders might wish.
That said, the administration – particularly the vice-president, Dick Cheney – and the oil lobby are enraged that the oil law is stalled. The main reason is not that the Iraqi government and parliament are a lazy bunch of Islamist incompetents or narrow-minded sectarians, as is often implied. MPs are studying the law more carefully, and have begun to see it as a major threat to Iraq’s national interest regardless of people’s religion or sect.
This is the second bit of good news from Iraq. Civil society, trade unions, professional oil experts and the media are stirring on the oil issue and putting their points across to parliament in the way democracy is meant to work. The oil unions have held strikes even at the risk of having leaders and members arrested. Read the rest of this entry »
Hey friends. This is Alex from Philly SDS. I figured I should try this blog as a place to collect my crazy thoughts and schemes.
Topics to be explored:
A. Peak Oil
C. Awareness of A within B
D. the imminent collapse of industrial capitalism we are beginning to undergo as a result of A
E. some ideas about what to do about D, especially for those of us in B