Why Work?
Arguments for the Leisure Society

Richards, Vernon (ed.)
Publisher:  Freedom Press, London, United Kingdom
Year Published:  1983  
Pages:  210p  
Dewey:  320.531
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6639

Essays on useless work, useful work, and alternatives to work.

Abstract:  Vernon has compiled a volume of essays, articles, poems, drawings and cartoons in support of a socialist way of living with fewer useless jobs. He calls for a redistribution of wealth to prevent unemployment as well as work that does not benefit society in any way. Often this work is a product of capitalism, such as advertising and marketing. The disadvantages of capitalism are examined thoroughly with a focus on unnecessary labour.

According to Vernon and 16 other authors, everyone should have free access to the means of production, instead of an elite few. Some contributors advocate anarchy, and there is consensus that the goal is to create a new society of leisure. The vision for this society is one where industries are moved back into the community so that all may produce what they need themselves. Not only will businesses be owned collectively by the workers, but also will homes and properties be shared by all inhabitants. This will create shorter workdays and more variety in activities for the individual.

The collection is divided into four parts. The Introduction includes writings by Bertrand Russell and William Morris entitled "In Praise of Idleness" and "Useful Work Versus Useless Toil". Subsequent sections include Problems and Pleasures of Work, Alternatives and Futures, and Production for Use Versus Production for Profit. These sections include articles, political cartoons, and in Part 3, narrated drawings of a socialist vision. While some authors examine the negative and positive aspects of particular examples of collective communities, others propose new visions for changing society. All of these visions centre around one common question: Why Work?

[Abstract by Mia Manns]



Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction
1. In Praise of Idleness
2. Useful Work versus Useless Toil

Part II. Problems and Pleasures of Work
1. Tyranny of the Clock
2. Why Work?
3. The Problem of Work
4. The Art of Shovelling
5. Measuring Misery
6. The Wage System
7. "Who Will Do the Dirty Work?"

Part III. Alternatives and Futures
1. Reflections on Utopia
2. Collectives in Spain
3. Significance of the Self-Build Movement
4. Leisure in America
5. The Other Economy as a Social System
6. Visions

Part IV: Production for Use Versus Production for Profit
1. Reflections on Full Employment
2. Supply & Demand
3. Capitalism or the Survival of the Richest
4. More Parasites than Workers
5. Workers Wake Up!
6. Wasted Manpower
7. Nationalization of Leisure
8. A Bit of Indigestion
9. Financial Crisis 1961
10. Blessings of Prosperity
11. Unemployment Again
12. Redundancy & Revolution
13. "Abundance may Compel Social Justice"
14. The Wind of Small Change
15. Time is Life

Subject Headings