If work was really so fucking wonderful then nobody would resent people living on meagre unemployment benefits. It might even be seen as a noble and selfless thing – to give up the wonderful opportunity that work offers – so that another can bask in the joys of daily toil.
The truth, that now goes almost unspoken, is that hardly anyone wants to go to work. Nobody who wins the lottery really carries on working in ASDA. For those at the lower end of the jobs market work is a shit deal – poverty pay for a lifetime of monotonous and often back-breaking labour. That is why the entire apparatus of the state is now being mobilised against those who can’t find work, or worst of all don’t want it. To be unemployed, or workless, is now akin to being a criminal. And if the economy doesn’t provide enough jobs, then that is the fault of the worker, for not working hard enough.
The capitalist class regards us all as nothing more than thieving scroungers, ever ready to skive if we are given half a chance. And it is not the payment of benefits that really irks the rich – it is the refusal to put our human capital – our minds and bodies – into their service that enrages them. How dare we not work to fatten their wallets.
As wages and working conditions decline then unemployment will be seen as an ever greater sin. The Victorian workhouse principle of ‘less eligibility’ – meaning the life of somebody unemployed must be less eligible (more shit) than the life of the lowest paid worker – must be maintained. The screw is being tightened for everybody and as benefits shrink so will wages. It is more important than ever that we start to question what’s wrong with work.
An evening at the Wellcome Collection in London will be doing just that this Friday 4th September. This will form part of the free Friday Late event at the museum which will explore noise, tumult, rest and relaxation. The organiser’s say:
Fed up with work? Don’t want to work? Actually hate work? Maybe work isn’t ‘good for you’. Explore and express what’s wrong with work: record your thoughts on tape, do a video or write a post card to your boss, the Chancellor, your work mates telling them what you think. Or just start a debate with the person next to you about everything and anything that’s wrong with work.
You can tweet about what’s wrong with work using the hashtag #wrongwithwork. The Friday Late will run from 7-11pm at The Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. Nearest station Euston, for accessibility information visit their website.
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