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Originally posted by miragezero
I enjoy working. :-) I don't understand people who just want to be unemployed even if you can "survive". You can get ahead it just won't be instant and if you don't agree... don't do anything but sit there and complain about it till it (doesn't) fall in your lap.
In a 1927 interview with the magazine Nation’s Business, Secretary of Labor James J. Davis provided some numbers to illustrate a problem that the New York Times called “need saturation.” Davis noted that “the textile mills of this country can produce all the cloth needed in six months’ operation each year” and that 14 percent of the American shoe factories could produce a year’s supply of footwear. The magazine went on to suggest, “It may be that the world’s needs ultimately will be produced by three days’ work a week.”
4 year old Abir sleeps in the workshop, on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, where he and his mother recycle batteries
Originally posted by pai mei
I say all this is possible.
Other studies worldwide, as well as common sense, suggest that the !Kung were not exceptional. In more lush areas life was probably even easier. Moreover, much of the "work" spent on these twenty hours of subsistence activities was by no means strenuous or burdensome. Most of the men's subsistence hours were spent hunting, something we do for recreation today, while gathering work was occasion for banter and frequent breaks.
Primitive small-scale agriculturalists enjoyed a similar unhurried pace of life. Consider Helena Norberg-Hodge's description of pre-modern Ladakh, a region in the Indian portion of the Tibetan Plateau.iii Despite a growing season only four months long, Ladakh enjoyed regular food surpluses, long and frequent festivals and celebrations, and ample leisure time (especially in winter when there was little field work to do). This, despite the harsh climate and the (proportionately) enormous population of non-working Buddhist monks in that country's numerous monasteries! More powerfully than any statistic, Norberg-Hodge's video documentary Ancient Futures conveys a sense of the leisurely pace of life there: villagers chat or sing as they work, taking plenty of long breaks even at the busiest time of the year. As the narrator says, "work and leisure are one."
The paradox is resolved when we realize that play is serious! Our culture assumes play to be puerile or frivolous, undeserving of the attention of serious, adult matters. Yet when we observe children at play we find in them the whole range of human emotions and attachments: laughter, yes, but solemnity too, and passion. Children, at least, take their play very seriously. The forms of recreation that masquerade these days as adult play are but pale imitations of it, sops to the spirit. They are not creative but dissipative; they don't engage us more fully in life but rather, in the guise of "entertainment", remove us from life. Whether sports cars, sailboats, or video games, we don't genuinely believe in our toys.
In our own culture, play is typically conceived to be the realm of children. The Puritan streak in our culture views it as a luxury, an indulgence, which is okay to allot to children in small amounts as long as they have finished their "work" (schoolwork, homework, housework, etc.) On the more tolerant side of the spectrum, play is okay as long as it is "educational": hence the numerous toys and games directed at young children which seek to smuggle in the alphabet, numbers, or other "cognitive skills". To echo the Darwinian explanation of animal play as a means to hone hunting skills, play is good because it is practice for life. Play purely for play's sake is a waste of time, a view based on the purpose-of-life-is-to-survive assumption that underlies modern science and economics. After all, every minute spent playing is a lost opportunity to get ahead in life.
Either way, eventually we grow up and there is no more time for play. Now, the grim business of real life begins. Oh sure, maybe we can "afford" to play in our "time off"; that is, the time left remaining to us after we have met the demands of survival. But unless we are extremely wealthy, we believe, the bulk of our time and energy must go toward work.
The consumer model is written into the very foundations of the modern classroom. Gatto writes: "Schools build national wealth by tearing down personal sovereignty, morality, and family life." These things are precisely the social and spiritual capital whose conversion into money was discussed in Chapter Four. It is not just that the broken and stupefied child is unable to stand up for himself in the workplace or to resist his role as a standardized cog in the vast automaton of industrial society; it is that relationships themselves, and all the previously non-monetized functions and exchanges associated with them, have been objectified, depersonalized, and commoditized.