In Britain at the end of the first world war, in 1919, there were strikes and mass protests/demonstrations calling for an eight hour day, some of them very bloody. If we believe that we live in a society that is meant to be progressing, one would imagine that almost 100 years after those strikes/protests/demonstrations, we would have made progress to the three hour day, or there abouts, at least. But no, here we are still stuck with the eight and eight plus hour day. Work can never be freedom, freedom can only take place outside of work, so it is safe to say that in this society, freedom of the individual has not progressed in almost 100 years. That is surely an indictment of the type of society we have created.
Work less to live more. What a beautiful slogan! I wonder if the one who coined it understood the unintended truth it contains, that work is the negation of life. “Eight hours of obligation is enough to exhaust a person’s energy. What he gives at work is his life, the better part of her strength. Even if the work has not degraded her, even if she has not felt himself overcome by boredom and fatigue, he leaves exhausted, diminished, with the imagination withered.” So a worker wrote several decades ago. Anyone who has worked even for just one day understands the meaning of these words. This is why the reduction of work hours has always been one of the primary demands of those who don’t commission the work, but who carry it out, and so bear its entire burden.It is taken for granted that less time spent at work means more time dedicated to oneself, and thus that every minute, every hour snatched from the factory or office could only represent a step forward toward a better quality of life. Most likely no one would venture to deny it once someone says it. But we shouldn’t ignore the contradictions to be found in such a conviction. If one wants to work less, it is clearly because one does not love work. But why? If work gave satisfaction, joy, contentment, why would one every renounce it? If work was really the dimension through which the human being creates the world and himself, why does she feel it as a burden? If it is true that work is human nobility, why hope that a stroke of fortune will free us from it forever? Clearly because work does not exalt the human being at all, but rather degrades her. Life is the consumption of vital human energy, but through work this squandering of energy occurs at times, in places, in ways and for aims that are not those of the person working. When one works, it is always for someone else. So by detesting imposition, one ends up detesting work.
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