The Atlantic: The religion of workism

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maurvir
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The Atlantic: The religion of workism

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https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archi ... le/583441/

In his 1930 essay “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” the economist John Maynard Keynes predicted a 15-hour workweek in the 21st century, creating the equivalent of a five-day weekend. “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem,” Keynes wrote, “how to occupy the leisure.”

This became a popular view. In a 1957 article in The New York Times, the writer Erik Barnouw predicted that, as work became easier, our identity would be defined by our hobbies, or our family life. “The increasingly automatic nature of many jobs, coupled with the shortening work week [leads] an increasing number of workers to look not to work but to leisure for satisfaction, meaning, expression,” he wrote.

These post-work predictions weren’t entirely wrong. By some counts, Americans work much less than they used to. The average work year has shrunk by more than 200 hours. But those figures don’t tell the whole story. Rich, college-educated people—especially men—work more than they did many decades ago. They are reared from their teenage years to make their passion their career and, if they don’t have a calling, told not to yield until they find one.

The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism.
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Ribtor
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Post by Ribtor »

Work is the opiate of the masses.
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juice
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Post by juice »

Ribtor wrote: Work is the opiate of the masses.

Are you sure that's not television?
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dv
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Post by dv »

stick fiddling protestants. Got people feeling guilty for enjoying the fruits of our group efforts.
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juice
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Post by juice »

dv wrote: stick fiddling protestants. Got people feeling guilty for enjoying the fruits of our group efforts.

If five years of Catholic school taught me anything its that protestants have not cornered the market on guilt.
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dv
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Post by dv »

juice wrote:
dv wrote: stick fiddling protestants. Got people feeling guilty for enjoying the fruits of our group efforts.

If five years of Catholic school taught me anything its that protestants have not cornered the market on guilt.

Yeah, but you know I'm specifically talking about the Puritan "work ethic", the focus on maintaining an outward appearance of a state of grace, and its long-ranging and stick fiddled up effects on American culture, right?

Catholics may encourage their children to feel like shitbags 24/7, but it's not a sin to take a nap.
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Ribtor
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Post by Ribtor »

I think the urge to consume drives much of it. The reward for helping to win the international productivity prize is the accumulation of human waste. And then someone comes along on Netflix and show you how to get rid of most of that human waste.
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Pariah
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Post by Pariah »

Those sunny prediction of short hours and free time were based on the assumption that as productivity per worker increased wages would also increase accordingly. But productivity stopped being connected to wages decades ago.
In the 50's no one envisioned the creation of an oligarchy of a few thousand families that siphoned off almost all newly created wealth.
These powerful parasites were thought to have been a part of the bygone era of robber barons and in the optimistic view of the 50's were a problem solved.
Not even duct tape will fix stupid, but it can muffle the sound.
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Metacell
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Post by Metacell »

The only reason anybody "works" is because rich landbarons force them to, at gunpoint more or less.
Remember, people, to forgive is divine. In other words, it ain't human.
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