Secondly, in Russell’s 1930s Britain, while earning is morally laudable, spending is deemed “frivolous”. . Reading his essay, I was reminded of a few historical examples. For instance, if the introduction of a shortened work week were to correspond to a cut in pay, would people be dissuaded to pursue the possibility of increased free time for the benefit of obtaining greater earnings? This is partly why I think a physical theory would be interesting, if we could even construct the appropriate Hamiltonian. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.’. Some would argue that there is empirical evidence and many qualitative arguments about why the current configuration of work hours is not optimised for the benefit of both productivity and well-being [3, 4], supporting his view. In this context, radical proposals for a four day week risk being reduced to little more than a business fix. Praise and Worship are closely related but are not the same. Rather “they consider work, as it should be considered, a necessary means to a livelihood, and it is from their leisure that they derive whatever happiness they may enjoy.”. From what I can see at the present time, some arguments are emerging about the need for an interdisciplinary theory. Whilst this thinking may be helpful in establishing a sense of existing economic viability for the policy, it excludes its most crucial aspect – what we gain in our newfound free time. On the one hand, manipulation from marketing creates demand that didn’t exist before. Hegemony – cultural and economic – is what now sustains the work ethic. As Bobby Kennedy argued in his critique of GDP as a measure of progress, it is this mass of economically ignored value that makes life worthwhile. Idleness should thus not infer or be confused with one’s being disinclined to work or with simplistic views pertaining to individual laziness. Modern methods of production should be sufficient to provide the “necessities and elementary comforts of life”, argues Russell, and the rest of our time to do with as we see fit. For the author, he argues that there is a sort of fetishisation of labour, especially manual labour, and he seems to want to argue that how we use labour energy is not efficient or optimised in the best ways. But it has always been my belief that our work hours should decrease as our productivity as a species increase. The widespread tendency of the efficiency gains of technological progress to increase resource use rather than reduce it became known as the Jevons Paradox – and to this day it, . This is the natural fruit of a shared indulgence in idleness safe in the knowledge that one’s security is guaranteed and one’s basic needs are met. Additionally, in a UK study of the public sector, a shortened work week was approximated to cost upwards of £45 billion, depending on some modelling assumptions including no increase in productivity [6]. They have been fundamentally subsumed into our economic system. The slickest offices have delivered not shorter weeks but both, . A good example comes from the ancient Babylonians. This is the natural fruit of a shared indulgence in idleness safe in the knowledge that one’s security is guaranteed and one’s basic needs are met. I’d heard and read a lot about Bertrand Russell’s genius and intellect, but the book really blew me away. At the same time, while he celebrates the concept and experience of idleness, he also laments the loss of its broader social-economic and cultural realisation. Perhaps our consumerist culture is deeply tied with this culture of labor glorification. He also speaks of economic production and the way in which work and leisure cycles could generally mean something altogether more philosophically transformed in conception, particularly in terms of the meaning of leisure and its tradition and practical cultural configuration. Perhaps agency and choice matter in this discussion. The method of a leisure class without duties was, however, extraordinarily wasteful … and the class as a whole was not exceptionally intelligent.


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