Le Droit à la Paresse (1883 – Paul Lafargue)

Just read it on the train coming from Paris to Toulouse. For me this is a very pamphleteer speech about work, that myself would (and probably will, in this blog) write about. As I am not doing it, yet, here goes some nice quotes to think about:

“A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds its sway. This delusion drags in its train the individual and social woes which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work, pushed even to the exhaustion of the vital force of the individual and his progeny. Instead of opposing this mental aberration, the priests, the economists and the moralists have cast a sacred halo over work.”

About Children’s work : “And the children? Twelve hours of work for children! Not all […] could have invented a vice more degrading to the intelligence of the children, more corrupting of their instincts, more destructive of their organism than work in the vitiated atmosphere of the capitalist factory.”

“What a miserable abortion of the revolutionary principles of the bourgeoisie! What woeful gifts from its god Progress! The philanthropists hail as benefactors of humanity those who having done nothing to become rich, give work to the poor. Far better were it to scatter pestilence and to poison the springs than to erect a capitalist factory in the midst of a rural population. Introduce factory work, and farewell joy, health and liberty; farewell to all that makes life beautiful and worth living.”

“And the economists go on repeating to the laborers, “Work, to increase social wealth”, and nevertheless an economist, Destutt de Tracy, answers: “It is in poor nations that people are comfortable, in rich nations they are ordinarily poor”

“Because, lending ear to the fallacious words of the economists, the proletarians have given themselves up body and soul to the vice of work; they precipitate the whole of society into these industrial crises of over-production which convulse the social organism.”

“But what do we see? In proportion as the machine is improved and performs man’s work with an ever increasing rapidity and exactness, the laborer, instead of prolonging his former rest times, redoubles his ardor, as if he wished to rival the machine. O, absurd and murderous competition!”

“since the quantity of work required by society is necessarily limited by consumption and by the supply of raw materials, why devour in six months the work of a whole year; why not distribute it uniformly over the twelve months and force every workingman to content himself with six or five hours a day throughout the year”

*Search for Degrowth party’s propositions in Europeens Elections

About Romans : “All the citizens by right lived at the expense of the treasury without being constrained to provide for their living by any of the sordid arts (thus, they designated the trades), which rightfully belonged to slaves.”

PS : Anyone can read the book (text) in one and half hour… suggestion : read it while in the bus or metro, going to work….

The book available in english : http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/index.htm

Le livre disponible en français : http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Droit_%C3%A0_la_paresse_%281880%29

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