Friday, March 21, 2014

digital intelligence

From an essay: When The Factory Turns Cold:

"The French revolutionary (and Karl Marx’ son in law) Paul Lafargue wrote “The Right to be Lazy” in 1883 that the “proletariat has allowed itself to be seduced by the dogma of work.” In his provocative tribute to the merits of laziness, Lafargue refuses to privilege work over all other pursuits (Lafargue). No, this is not a call for a population of couch potatoes; it is rather a refusal of the configuration of the work society. Kathi Weeks, a Duke University professor, explains that Lafargue’s extravagant refusal of work is not a refusal of productive activity. Lafargue speaks out against the ideology of work as highest calling. Weeks points to the autonomist Marxist critique that does not only focus on alienation and exploitation but also on the overvaluation of work itself (Hoegsberg and Fisher 151).

At first, such demand may sound outlandishly elitist. How could we possibly unlearn our extreme work habits, our overvaluation of work? Who’d pay the bills. Really, who can afford this? In her excellent book The Problem with Work, Kathi Weeks supports demands for basic income and shorter work hours.

For Weeks, the problem with work would not disappear if invisible labor would be more visible and appropriately compensated. The problem is not only about the degradation of skill, low wages/exploitation, and discrimination. It’s about “securing not only better work, but also the time and money necessary to have a life outside of work.”(Weeks 13) Do you remember the times when people still had hobbies and knew how to take a vacation?

The refusal of work is really a refusal of the way work is organized. Concretely, proposals for unconditional basic income, discussed intensely and for a long time in Europe, would make that possible."

I quoted my favorite part of the essay but it's so much more than that section. It questions our use of the internet in smart ways, and brings a kind of mindfulness in digital interactions. Wonderful essay.

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