Over on EconoSpeak, ‘Sandwichman’ has been pounding away for months about the working day. He’s offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can demonstrate that the ‘lump of labour fallacy’ is actually a fallacy, rather than a straw man created to assert and reassert the necessity of grisly working hours (i.e. in order to justify the exploitation of labour.)
Which is, of course, a good old Marxist theme. Here’s Lafargue’s ‘The Right to Be Lazy’. It was in relation to Lafargue, and his colleagues [uh… comrades], that Marx asserted, famously, “I am not a Marxist” – so one shouldn’t take Lafargue’s work as necessarily congruent with, say, ‘Capital’. All the same, the right to be lazy is something that’s easily lost in all the assaults on capitalism. Most notably, it can be occluded in the development of mass working-class political movements; movements that assert the rights of labour as labour – which is sort of the sine qua non of the socialist movement.
As N Pepperell has pointed out, on Rough Theory, the self-identification of labour as labour plays an interesting structural role in ‘Capital. For one thing: the labour market – the most characteristic structural feature of capitalism – is the stroke of social genius whereby exploitation can present as freedom. (There’s a lot of great snark in ‘Capital’, about how unemployment ‘frees’ workers – frees them to starve.) But also (among other things): it’s only when emancipatory critique comes to focus on labour’s rights as labour that full-blown capitalism is able to constitute itself.
So: one genius of the capitalist system is the way in which the self-identification of labour as labour allows even emancipatory critiques to focus on the perpetuation and reproduction of the labour market, and the working day. And one of the exemplary figures here – the Mephistopheles, the angel who is also the boatman of the damned – is Keynes. For (as I’ve said before) the Keynesian ‘critique’ of laissez-faire capitalism is based on making explicit something that was largely implicit in earlier economic theorising: the idea that production is not oriented towards consumption, but rather towards the maintenance of ‘full employment’. That is to say: the maintenance of a certain social structure, based around the working day; a structure of discipline, control, and exploitation.
All this is by the by. The point of today’s post is just to say: fuck me I’m knackered. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time on this blog, over the last year or so. And while it is, of course, always a pleasure… it doesn’t leave much time for anything else – what with the working day and all.
Therefore –the blog will shortly become inactive. It may be revived at some more or less distant time. But in the medium term: no more blogging.
Sorry! I’ve really enjoyed, and learnt a lot from, all the conversations that have taken place here. Thank you everyone for commenting! & for reading. For taking the time to do either… It has been most lovely …
On the other hand, I’m looking forward to some laziness.
So, to send us out, one of the good old songs of my adolescence. It’s Suede, folks!