Thursday, 23 July 2015


"The Right to be Lazy" (sold by the I.W.W.) is a bosker brainy book. It will never come into its own, though, until the ideas of the slave class change. The author (Paul Lafargue) starts out with the assumption that the working class is obsessed by the idea of work. "This love of work," he says, "drags in its train the individual and social woes which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity." "In capitalist society work is the cause of all intellectual degeneracy and of all organic deformity. The proletariat, betraying its instincts, despising its historic mission, has let itself be perverted by the dogma of work. "Unhappy women, carrying and nursing their babes, have been obliged to go into mines and factories to bend their backs and exhaust their nerves. To-day we have factory girls and women, pale drooping flowers, with impoverished blood, disordered stomachs and languid limbs. "Instead of taking advantage of periods or crisis, for a general distribution of their products and a universal holiday, the laborers, perishing with hunger, go to beat their heads against the doors of the workship." The author then goes on to depict the effects of over-production. It is the absurd idea of the workers wishing to enforce work upon the idle classes that causes the latter to surround themselves with guards, policemen, magistrates, and jailers. Armies are permanently maintained to defend the idle classes in case of revolt by the workers. "In spite of the over-production of goods, laborers encumber the markets in countless numbers imploring "Work! Work!" Let a chance for work present itself, thither the workers rush, demanding twelve or fourteen hours to glut their appetite for work. "Brutalised by their inordinate craving for work, workers have been unable to rise to the conception of this fact, that to have work for all it is necessary to apportion it like water on a ship in distress. "If, uprooting from its heart the vice which dominates it and degrades its nature, the working class were to demand — not the right to work, but the Right to Live: if they were to forge a brazen law forbidding any man to work more than three hours a day, a new earth would be created. Then they would have time to practice the virtues of laziness. "The working class do not yet understand that the machine is the saviour of humanity, the god who shall redeem man from working for hire, the god who shall give him leisure and liberty." The book is well worth perusal, and is in harmony with the demand of the I.W.W. for shortening of hours and slowing down on the job. Workers! read this book, then you will understand that you were not born to work, but to lead lives of leisured industry, with ample time for social intercourse and to enjoy the beauties of Nature. You have done your share of work; let the capitalists do a bit. Insist strenuously upon recognition of your "Right to be Lazy."

Direct Action 5 August 1916

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