“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

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.

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