Friday, April 09, 2010

dirty work

Work should not really be equated with employment. Employment is wage labour and the ability to work is a commodity the workers are forced to sell . As such it has alienating factors associated with it; e.g. Monday to Friday , 9 -5 , is “their” time, whilst the weekend is "our" time, where we can enjoy working in the garden or painting. Employment is based on the division of labour. The upshot being workers are tied to one job for years on end, instead of being people able to do all kinds of things, which socialist society – run by conscious decisions instead of blind forces – will allow. (Of course it is a moot point as to how far the division of labour can be removed from socialism; not every one can have the steady hand and requisite knowledge of a surgeon.)

One of the strangest objections to socialism is “who will do the dirty work?”. Imagine such doom-sayers arguing “I don't want to live in a world without want and hunger , and where my needs are satisfied, if it means I have to do dirty work once a week.”

Who will do the dirty work? Machinery will do it, said Oscar Wilde. (And, of course, machinery is enormously more developed now than it was in Wilde's day and can do many more jobs which people do not wish to do manually.) "All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery". This will release each individual to help the community in his or her own way by doing service or producing things which will satisfy each person's need to be active, to contribute and to help. Wilde summed it up: "The community by means of organization of machinery will supply the useful things, and . . . the beautiful things will be made by the individual". Work will be an essential part of life in socialism; it will be a part of the individual's personal development , a necessary, healthy expenditure of energy and a social bond with co-workers .
The hours needed to work will be considerably reduced as unemployment will no longer exist , and from the additional extra labour being made available from no longer required capitalist occupations which will not exist in the moneyless, free access society of socialism. There will simply be many more hands to do the unpleasant but necessary stuff. Socialism will entail new applications of technology and the abolition of unnecessary routine work.
Socialism can do lots of things, but it can't make shit smell of roses - that is one little fact of life we'll just have to put up with.

Saturday, April 03, 2010