Wednesday, 15 September 2010
Work and the drinking classes.
Walking over Hungerford Bridge this afternoon I paused to watch one of Cory's tugs with a pair of thousand ton barges in tow working up river on a strong flood tide. Carefully getting the right line the skipper made a perfect job of shooting Westminster Bridge. Watching a master of their craft at work is always a pleasure. When Ian Bone interviewed me on his radio show a couple of years back he remarked that I was perhaps the only old hippy who believed in the dignity of labour. Not that I havn't enjoyed several periods of voluntary unemployment in the past and am now embarked on what I hope will turn out to be the lengthy voyage of retirement. That said, and even though I am an admirer of every champion of idleness from Paul Lafargue to Tom Hodgkinson, I still feel that to be denied the opportunity of employment is also to be denied the right to the self-fulfillment that can be found both in the workplace and in work itself. I don't have any problem at all with people choosing to not work. The cost of the benefits involved is a drop in the ocean and many jobs are not only boring and alienating but totally useless as well. What I would say though is that when unemployment is visited on a community it generally proves to be a curse rather than a liberation. The idea of a generation growing old and never feeling the elation of a job well done is nothing to celebrate. The dignity of labour is not the same as the work ethic. As I was once advised- serve the task, and not the master.