Get rid of work - Gilles Dauvé

A slightly modified chapter 3 of the book From Crisis to Communization, published in 2017 by Editions Entremonde.

Submitted by sabot on January 18, 2018

False Yards

In 1997, in the Sarthe, about twenty workers build a section of motorway under the direction of an engineer employed by a large group of construction. After two months, the man is arrested: no one had commissioned the work partly completed, with a start of funding, the fake site manager has managed to convince banks and public bodies. Between 1983 and 1996, Philippe Berre was sentenced fourteen times for the implementation of false construction sites. In Origin , a film inspired by this adventure released in 2009, shows a population hit by unemployment finding a brief job and hope. Philippe Berre is not motivated by the gain, rather by the need to make, to be useful, to animate a collective of work. In 2010, again, he took over this role in assisting storm victims Xynthia.

We know the "rogue bosses". Philippe Berre is a fictitious patron, an anti-hero of our time, both "manipulator of symbols", skilled manager in human resources, at the crossroads of the automobile and construction (presented as the two main sources of employment of modern countries), nomadic on the roads, mobile like the activities of which he is the parasite, living ephemeral dreams that his dynamism raises around him, illustration of a fluidity without landmarks or ties, where the money circulates but does not do not spare yourself, where success is without a future, where you build up what is useless, where everything seems to be communication and virtuality. But this is the reality that Phoe Berre misses, only respectability.

When a scammer brings work, income, and therefore "meaning" to a community in distress, even if it is temporary and misleading, it raises the question of what production and work mean. The unemployed of Sarthe trusted Ph. Berre because it brought them a socialization, a role, a status, a recognition. What is useful? useless? fictional? real? profitable or not? Was this stretch of highway more or less absurd than the "real" highways? What work deserves to be called "waste"? Beyond the hard truth of work (he creates objects, brings back income and is usually painful), what is his reality?

1. Reread Marx: From Marx to Marxism

Marx left the strongest synthesis of communism, the one where the theoretical "breakthrough" is the deepest and the most acute contradictions: Capital and Criticism of the Gotha program in particular, the Grundrisse too, these 1857-58 manuscripts of which the first publication in French almost coincided with May '68, which then renewed our approach to capitalism and communism, in pages that we have personally mentioned more than once, but which now seem to us to justify criticism. (1)

In particular, going back to Marx is necessary because his analysis of work places the question of time in the center.

1.1 Goods and Work

Capital does not begin with a definition of capitalism, but with the way it "presents itself": "an immense accumulation of goods". This starting point reflects a choice of perspective. If work is at the heart of the problem, why not start with the division of labor? Marx not writing a history book, why start from the meeting of private producers trading on the market, and not from the meeting of the employee and the capitalist? The first chapter of Capital considers work (not working employee , but the work tout court , whatever it is) as both concrete andabstract: in other words, value of use and value of exchange would be present from the dawn of humanity and almost in any society.

To naturalize the work is to perpetuate it.

1.4 will return to Marx and his definitions of work. What Capital asserts, in any case, is that work, formerly before value (or without value, as it will be in communism), labor without a labor market , is positive and necessary. Capital considers productive activity and work as one and the same.

Marx announces here an essential trait of what will become Marxism: the worker ceases to be proletarian (= an employee exploited by a boss) when everyone becomes one, since the bosses are replaced by the work community. The solution to the social problem would be to generalize the work. But which one? Salaried work? Marx reasons as if the answer were self-evident: when all of us are part of a community working without capitalists, the question of wage-earning will be solved. The overcoming of capitalism would not consist in abolishing the capital-labor ratio, but in delivering the work of capital.

1.2 Working in a World wthout Money

For Marx, it is the arrival on the market of the use value ("natural" product of the work) which gives this value of use the character of exchange value.

When Marx speaks of time of work , it is of course of production, but the value is there a potential existence, before finding its reality on the market. Everything happens as if value did not arise in production but, after the productive moment, came to impose itself at work as a constraint, of which it would be a question of freeing the worker. To read Marx, as long as there is no act of sale-purchase, working time functions as a neutral datum, that capitalism uses in its own way, and that communism will use of course everything else .

The filigree-readable Communism in Capital is like a world without money based on community work. But work is much more than the meeting of human beings cooperating in a workshop to make objects. To work is to count time and save it, which implies quantifying the average energy expenditure needed to produce this or that: exactly what Marx rightly calls value.

We know Marx's mistrust of any utopian description of the post-revolutionary future. It is therefore all the more significant that one of his very rare glimpses on this subject is to propose labor sweets for the "lower phase" of communism ( Critique of the Gotha Program,1875), because, as exposes them himself, what are these work orders, if not value without money?

1.3 The Plan

"Let us finally represent a meeting of free men working with common means of production, and spending, according to a concerted plan, their numerous individual strengths as one and the same force of social work. (..) The total product of united workers is a social product. Some is used again as a means of production and remains social; but the other part is consumed and, therefore, must be distributed among all. (..) Suppose, to put this state of things in parallel with the commodity production, that the share granted to each worker is due to his working time. Working time thus plays a dual role. On the one hand, its distribution in society regulates the exact ratio of the various functions to the various needs; the other, it measures the individual share of each producer in the common work, and at the same time the portion which belongs to him in the part of the common product reserved for consumption. The social relations of men in their works and with the useful objects which come from them remain here simple and transparent in the production as well as in the distribution. (Capital, Book I, Chap. I, iv)

If Marx supposes a regulation of production by working time "to put this state of affairs in parallel with commodity production," it is because the contrary supposition is almost unthinkable. His perspective is to replace the separation between small and large producers by a common production, and the capitalist disorder by a planning made by and for all.

Similarly, in politics, the state will no longer be the state when everyone will exercise the functions: distributed among all, the political power will lose its oppressive character, writes Engels: "As far as the anarchy of the production society disappears, the political authority of the state falls asleep. Men, finally masters of their own way of life in society, thereby become masters of nature, masters of themselves, free. (2)

As Marx puts it, communism is transparency and self-understanding: people finally become aware of what they are doing. Associate producers are naturally supposed to be in the best position to know the amount of time they need to work.

1.4 What Definition of Work?

In 1845, Marx defined it as follows:

"Work" is the living base of private property, private property being its own creative source. Private property is nothing but materialized work. If it is to be dealt a fatal blow, private property must be attacked not only as an objective state; it must be attacked as activity, as work. To speak of free work, human, social, work without private property, is one of the greatest misunderstandings. "Work" is by nature the enslaved, inhuman, antisocial activity, determined by the private and creative property of private property. Consequently, the abolition of private property becomes a reality only if it is conceived as the abolition of "work", an abolition which, naturally, has become possible only by the work itself, that is, by the material activity of society, and not by substitution of one category for another. "(3)

In 1846, The German Ideology speaks of abolishing "the division of labor": "That is impossible without the community. (..) Until now, all revolutions have always left the mode of activities intact; it was only another distribution of these activities, a new distribution of work between other people. On the other hand, the communist revolution, standing up against the traditional mode of activities, gets rid of the work and abolishes the domination of all classes by abolishing the classes themselves, this revolution being the work of the class which, in society, no longer ranks as a class and is no longer recognized as such: as of now it marks the dissolution of all classes, all nationalities, etc., within the very heart of present society. " (4)

Communist theory does not equate man with a homo faber, nor with a "maker of tools," according to Benjamin Franklin's formula.

On the other hand, in 1867, work is defined as "the indispensable condition of the existence of man, the mediator of organic exchanges between nature and man". (5)

From a radical position that was unacceptable at the time (and remained so until now), Marx was moving to a definition of work that is practically applicable to any society.

Finally, there is the Critique of the Gotha Program (1875): "In a higher phase of communist society, when the enslaving subordination of individuals to the division of labor has disappeared, and with it the opposition between intellectual work and manual work; when work will not only be a means of living, but will itself become the first vital need; when, with the multiple development of individuals, the productive forces will also be increased and all the sources of collective wealth will spring up abundantly - only then (..) can society write on its banners: Of each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs! (6)

1.5 Measure by Time (By Reading the Grundrisse)

According to Capital , "In all social states, the time required to produce the means of consumption must have interested man, though unequally, according to the different degrees of civilization.(7)

The 1857-58 ( Grundrisse ) manuscripts have exceptional visionary strength. What they express is however not in contradiction with Capital, as much on work as on working time, and the two themes complement each other.

"The true economy, saving, is saving work time (and minimizing production costs). But, inseparable from the development of the productive forces, this economy is in no way a renunciation of jouissance. The increase of the force and the means of production conditions the faculties which render the individual fit to enjoy existence, an aptitude which goes hand in hand with the productive power. Saving working time means increasing leisure for the full development of the individual (..) "(For Grundrisse , we will use the edition of Maximilien Rubel, Works , Gallimard, II, 1968. Here page 310.)

"(...) it falls within the meaning that the immediate working time can not always be abstractly opposed to free time, as is the case in the bourgeois economic system. Work can not become a game, as Fourier wants, which had the great merit of having proclaimed as an ultimate goal the transcendence, in a superior form, not of the mode of distribution but of production. "(311)

That life, productive in particular, "requires practical manipulation and free movement" (311), and involves effort , it is obvious, and it is useful to recall it against the myth of liberating automation, but it does not follow that we must reason in the opposition work / play, categories themselves historical and criticizable. Over the same pages, Marx criticizes the political economy and prolongs it.

All is not game, certainly. But that there is effort does not mean that there must be work . It is not necessarily less pleasant to cook than to eat. And the dishes? It is a chore only through the routine of household chores (still 80% performed by the housewife) performed under the dual constraint of time saving and the pressure of family life. The reappropriation of our living conditions, and therefore their upheaval, involves other male / female relationships, but also parents / children, adults / children, which implies another habitat, another education, etc.

The perspective that emerges from the Grundrisse is as deep as it is ambiguous:

"To adopt working time as a standard of wealth is to base it on poverty; it is to reduce the whole time to the only time of work and to degrade the individual to the exclusive role of worker, of working instrument. (P.308)

"Capital is a contradiction in action: it tends to minimize working time, while making it the sole source and measure of wealth. (P.306)

"Decreasing either in favor of overwork, the reduction of the necessary working time will allow the free development of the individual. Indeed, thanks to the leisure and the means available to all, minimizing the necessary social work will promote artistic, scientific and other development. of each one. (P.306)

"True wealth being the full productive power of all individuals, the standard of measurement will be not the working time, but the time available. (P.308)

By definition, the available time being not (or not yet) used, representing only a potentiality, it is impossible to measure: it thus seems to be a break with the value and the capitalism. But does this available time become the totality of time, or is it added to an ever-present working time , which is essential, though reduced to a few hours a day?

Marx asked the question (crucial to seize the work) of the count of time, but could not solve it because he treated time as fact, not as a category to criticize.

1.6 Communism and Working Time (The Councilist Project)

In 1930, the Communists of Dutch Councils of the ICG had the enormous merit of concretely putting the question of communism on the basis of value, but on a false basis in our opinion.(8)

In 1966, the chief editor of the project, Jan Appel (1890-1985) summed it up in principle: the workers' councils would make "the unity of the hour of average working time [the] measure of the time of production and all needs and services in both production and distribution. (9)

The mistake is to want to put the Marxian theory of value at the service of the management of communism. The notion of average social work time, and even more so its calculation, are not usable instruments in the same way as a wheelbarrow or a milling machine: they are the substance of capitalism, and their use is not separable from the function which is obligatorily theirs. A society can not be organized on the basis of a direct calculation of the average working time without sooner or later the general equivalent materializing, giving birth to some variant of money. Everyone knows that in spite of sometimes friendly aspects, the barter is based on an implicit account, an exchange of invisible money (nobody trades a motorcycle in running condition against a banal swimsuit). As the product exists doubly, as a fixed object and as a value of exchange for comparison and exchange, we do not leave market society and capitalism. Direct accounting in working time would create an invisible general equivalent: it would lead to products measured as goods without them circulating as goods, and to workers consuming according to their work without receiving a salary. We would soon see the classic forms of capitalism resurrecting whose foundations would never have disappeared, because only a market where companies are confronted is able to punish the calculation of production times. Direct accounting in working time would create an invisible general equivalent: it would lead to products measured as goods without them circulating as goods, and to workers consuming according to their work without receiving a salary. We would soon see the classic forms of capitalism resurrecting whose foundations would never have disappeared, because only a market where companies are confronted is able to punish the calculation of production times. Direct accounting in working time would create an invisible general equivalent: it would lead to products measured as goods without them circulating as goods, and to workers consuming according to their work without receiving a salary. We would soon see the classic forms of capitalism resurrecting whose foundations would never have disappeared, because only a market where companies are confronted is able to punish the calculation of production times.

It is obvious that there is nothing intrinsically common to a lettuce and a skirt, except the quantity of raw materials and energy to obtain one and the other. But it is market exchange, and even more so capitalism, that needs to synthesize all the components of production in order to reduce lettuces and skirts to what they have of commensurable: the necessary working time.

What escaped the ICG is that the evaluation of the resources (human and others) required for any activity takes on a different meaning in different societies. Sewing clothes and planting salads do not require the same efforts or the same material elements, and communism will take this into account: but it will not need to start from the abstraction (even calculated directly, without money) of a comparable energy expenditure contained in these two activities. It will count and compare quantities, and any losses or wastage will be much lower than would be required by the calculation of a kind of universal production time.

"The theory of measuring goods or forecasting investments [in communism] by the amount of work is wrong. (..) This is not a quarrel of method but a fundamental problem which concerns the very nature of communism. The measurement by the work remains economist. She wants the end of the law of value but does not see all that implies. (..) The mistake is not to continue to see the necessity, the sacrifice, the production in the new society. The mistake is to package all that, to stick to the label "working time" to reduce if possible and to oppose it globally to free time." (10)

Whatever the purpose of the calculation and its method, a society based on working time would imply that the work is separate from non-work, and therefore separate from the rest of the activities: if not, what and how to measure?

On the other hand, if Marx implicitly retained the enterprise as a pole of value led by the collective worker, the GIC puts it explicitly at the center as an economic unit. Proponents of this project were aware that some firms, and some workers within each enterprise, would inevitably be more productive than others, so they planned to compensate for this inequality through a complex mechanism of weighting. We have rarely gone so far in a program that preserves the foundations of capitalism while placing them under the total control of the workers .

Bordiga made little mistake when he saw it as "corporate socialism," but the councilist error was the result of an essential concern that Bordiga did not recognize: to want the emancipation of the workers to remain the work of the workers themselves. As Jan Appel points out, the real reason for this plan is not technical, but political: to make every worker involved in management.

The ICG plan must indeed be very much in a period when, after the crisis of capitalism, 29 was seen to be in the process of concentration, state control and planning: an opinion shared among others by people as different as Otto Rühle, Bruno Rizzi, dissident Trotskyists Burnham and Shachtman, councilists, Socialism or Barbarism, Karl Korsch in 1950, and even non-Marxists as A. Berle and G. Means or Schumpeter. (Bordiga is one of the few to decline the position.) (11 )

Russia serves as a counter-model: it is to avoid the repetition of what happened after October 17. The calculation - just in the two senses of the word because done by the workers - of the working time their will keep businesses and the economy under control. Accounting for working time is both the condition and the guarantee of real and effective workers 'management: no one is better able than workers' collectives to know exactly how long it takes to produce this or that. determine the contribution of each to the common effort.

In their desire to present communism as a superior mode of production, and to prove supporting figures that "it can work", the Dutch comrades missed out on the criticism of the work (let us admit that 1930 was not the moment the most favorable to bring it to light ...).

If we report the ICG project to our commentary on the Grundrisse in the previous paragraph, the councilists are faithful to Marx, including (without knowing it at the time) the Grundrisse they could not know in the 30s: communism, for them, it is the collective administration made possible by the experience acquired during the transition phase, which ultimately serves mainly as a school of rational management.

1.7 Does Value Abolish Itself?

This question may surprise. Yet, if the Grundrisse have so much influence for more than forty years, it is because their reading authorizes various interpretations, including that of a capitalism forced to surpass itself.

In 1857-58, anticipating the future of capitalism, and commenting on the first automatic machines in reference to Charles Babbage, precursor of the computer, Marx wrote:

"(...) the immediate work ceases to be as such the basis of production; because on the one hand it changes into an activity of surveillance and direction and on the other hand the product has ceased to be the work of isolated and direct work: it is the combination of social activity that appears in does like the producer. (P.308)

"When, in its immediate form, work ceases to be the great source of wealth, working time will cease and must cease to be the measure of labor, just as exchange value will cease to be the measurement of the use value. The overwork of the human masses will cease to be the condition of development of the general wealth. (..) From then on, production based on the exchange value collapses (..) "(p.306)

In other words, from the moment it is impossible to identify the personal contribution of the individual worker to the creation of wealth, the value (ie the regulation of the production and distribution of goods by the time of labor necessary social average) becomes incompatible with the expansion of production, and absurd within capitalism itself.

One thinks of what Marx exposed at about the same time:

"At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production (..). Then an era of social revolution begins. (Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy , 1859)

Although this preface further states that the proletarians are the principal of these productive forces, Marx none the less shares the confidence of his time in a historical "progress": capitalist development leads to communism. In the same way that the trading power has shattered the feudal framework and replaced the aristocratic domination by the rule of the bourgeoisie, so the push of industrialization, the economic socialization, the concentration of masses of workers will prove incompatible with private property and the management of society by the bourgeois. In other words, the proletarian revolution was modeled on the bourgeois democratic revolution.

Marx is not reducible to this position, but there is enough in his work to justify such a program, since capitalism ends up denying itself:

"Just as the system of the bourgeois economy is gradually developing, so the ultimate result of this system is gradually developing its own negation. (Grundrisse , p.311)

Many theorists (their name is legion) will then apply to show a "law of value" tending to its own abolition (the word law is significant of the transformation of criticism into science, that is, a know independent of the practice of proletarians).

In other words, capitalism would initiate a revolutionary change of scale ... without revolution. For the social question resolves itself if there is a threshold where the salaried work of itself turns out to be obsolete, the average social work time becoming an inadequate measure and the inoperative regulator of a production so socialized that it will not be long in tearing the wage-earners like an envelope that is now too narrow.

1.8 Marxist Marx

To emphasize all that separates the communist Marx from his non-revolutionary posterity, many, including ourselves, have argued that Marx himself would be the best critic of Marxism. (12) The intention is laudable, but the argument is flawed.

How does Marx conclude Capital?

"To transform private and fragmented property, the object of individual labor, into capitalist property, it has naturally taken more time, effort and punishment than will be required by the metamorphosis into social property of capitalist property, which in fact is already based on a collective mode of production. There it was the expropriation of the mass by some usurpers; here it is the expropriation of some usurpers by the mass. (Penultimate chapter: "Historical trend of capitalist accumulation") (13)

Capitalism already "collective mode of production"? From the late 19th century, the socialist movement has exploited these lines (and other interpretative in the same direction) to explain that capitalism organized in increasingly globally interdependent firms should eventually escape both private property and the anarchy of production: it was therefore enough to replace the bourgeois patrons by the representatives of the workers, and socialism would arrive alone, without revolution, its coming up to an almost natural phenomenon.

It is not unreasonable for Marxists to seek in Marx the theory of a capitalist socialization that would ultimately prevent capitalism from perpetuating itself. This is a good definition of "Marxism": to replace proletarian action with a gradual evolution, or with a beneficial catastrophe, in both cases by a process comparable to the mutations of natural species. Late 19th century, manuscripts of books II and III of Capital published after Marx's death were read as the theory of an inevitable contradiction between private property and bourgeois such a gigantic growth of productive forces that even trusts and Cartels would be unable to control it.

A century later, the 1857-58 manuscripts now available are interpreted as theorizing a structural limit unparalleled but even more irresistible. It is the sources and contemporary forms of wealth that would themselves call an overtaking that we would only have to implement. Toni Negri will not be the last to read in the Grundrisse that the value (the regulation of the production by the working time, by the research of the minimal cost of production) has already ceased to govern the contemporary society: it it would only be a matter of realizing it and drawing the consequences for it to radically change that society. The world now resting on a collective intelligence, provided that this general intellect become aware of himself, we will all be free. In summary, in 1900 as the 21th century, the forces of production are presented as escaping those who direct but even more to the logic of exploitation and wage labor. With a difference in size: the historical subject is no longer the worker, especially not the worker, but almost all of us, since the lecturer like the mingong both contribute to the wealth of the world.

Such an interpretation is partial, biased, but can claim the letter and the spirit of the Marxian work.

We do not have to oppose a young Marx to an old man, because contradictions cross and animate his texts from the 1840s to the end of his life. (14)

Marx conducted a continuous and discontinuous project, from early unpublished texts to manuscripts (just as often unpublished) of maturity. At the time he was expounding his intuitions of the Grundrisse, he was preparing his never-ending major work, Capital, as revealing its priority: to go to the bottom of capitalism to understand the possible reversal. The means became an end: to grasp what the proletariat has historically new, to immerse itself more than twenty years in the study of capitalism. Moreover, on the later volumes of Capital foreseen by Marx - economic theories, world market, classes, state - none would have been devoted to the proletariat. Communism was thought from capitalism.

Undoubtedly, it is thanks to Marx that we can criticize him, and one of the most luminous commentaries remains that of Bordiga, who wrote more than half a century ago that it was necessary to read the whole of Marx's work as a "description of the characters of communist society". But today, on pain of behaving like an heir, we must see what dominated Marx. His dazzling intuitions, still in manuscript form, mix the passing of the economy with the project of a community economy. Marx is more critical of value (merchandise, money) than labor (time, productivity). If the Marxian thought accorded to the communist rebirth of the mira minor place compared to the industrialization of the world is that capitalist progress was accompanied by a workers' movement whose author of Capital was waiting for the essential.

To understand communism is also to distinguish Marx from Marxism without denying the link between the two. Otherwise, the risk is great to rewrite a Marx to everyone's taste, or fashion.

1.9 Marxism

The subject is vast and the documentation abundant, we will confine ourselves to Engels and Lafargue.

What Marx sketched, Engels systematizes, often by stripping Marx of his deep ambiguities. For Engels, the passage from monkey to man is done through work and language. (15) Work, which "begins with the making of tools," is described as natural, useful, and conscious, its birth accompanying that of language. Like Marx but more outright, Engels identifies productive activity and work.

The dominant interpretation of the Right to laziness (a text widely circulated since it was first drafted in 1880, in circles ranging from social democracy to anarchism) is to read the program that comes from capitalism. is good (produce in abundance) by removing what is bad (exploit the producer). Paul Lafargue explains that by dividing productive tasks among all instead of concentrating them on some and forcing others to be unemployed, socialism will reduce the working day to 3 hours thanks to the suppression of the useless productions. and, above all, thanks to machinery, this "redeemer of humanity". Coincidentally, this is also a day 3 hours Keynes in 1930 we promised to the late 20th century.(16)

Aristotle remained famous for his justification of slavery by the necessity of making the necessary food and objects so that a privileged minority could indulge in the most noble tasks: there would be no more slaves, added the philosopher Greek, "if the shuttles of the weavers wove themselves": Lafargue declares that day finally arrived. Socio-Democrats and Stalinists had little trouble in "recovering" The Right to laziness: for them, socialism was an extension, in the supposed interest of the masses, industrial development oriented until then for the benefit of the bourgeoisie.

According to The Right to Idleness, working very little would no longer be work. A century later, automation, the myth of post-industrial society and, more recently, the illusion of a new computer age have led to believe that even the three hours daily announced by Lafargue would lose their painful character: work and leisure, manufacturing and creation would become one. Finally reconciling the homo faber with homo ludens, work would definitely stop being work.

A collection of writings by Lafargue published by Taillandier in 2009 is titled Paresse et révolution. In the past, the combination of the two words would have made it a provocative, anarchistic, situationist title ("Never work"). At the beginning of the 21st century, redemption by the machine went out of fashion, but paradoxically, the omnipotence of work allowed to a certain "criticism of work" to enter the mores. (17)

But what do we usually blame him for? Above all, to be a constraint, an alienation, an impoverishment of the worker as of nature. (18)

It is all this, of course, but sticking to it does not imply a criticism of the wage-earning (buying-selling of human activity), nor of the work as separation (to earn a living by producing and then to consume thanks to the money earned).

2. Work & Value

We will only deal here with the societies in which the constituent features of work exist, knowing that they have been fully developed for only a few centuries.

Any social analysis involving a definition of what humans have of specific, as much as this definition is explicit, and the most minimal possible: the man contributes to produce his nature, of which he is co-creator. It does not model itself at will, but evolves itself by changing what surrounds it. In producing their material conditions of life, human beings do much more: to produce means to act in society, to speak, to travel ... Man happens, takes his activity and other human beings as object: he is subject, and he has a story. He puts himself at a distance from himself (and can also become alien to himself.) This implies choices, a freedom (and its eventual loss).

This objectification contains the possibility of work .

2.1 Who Says Work Says Classes?

In order for this potentiality to become effective, there must be a surplus product, and a surplus product that is more than a mere reserve (of food, in particular): a usable surplus product is needed to release a member of society from the obligation to produce for itself, thus allowing it to be produced for other members. Work is the form taken by human activity when it creates a surplus product that escapes it. Work is a relationship between needed work and overwork There is a separation between the expenditure of energy necessary to maintain the worker, and the expenditure of energy beyond this maintenance, the one which creates a surplus product. There is no worker other than a non-worker who organizes the work for his benefit. An activity the product of which belongs to others, the work involves (and maintains) a division of society into groups with opposing interests. The society is divided between a group of the work and a group of non-work capturing a part of the production of the first group. The worker can keep control of his means of production and organize his own productive activity, but the result no longer belongs to him. Work is a class relationship.

2.2 Work Reduces any Activity to a Single Substance

Human activity began to take the form of labor when humanity, over tens of thousands of years and in places we will never know, has come to the conclusion that certain practices, few in number probably at the beginning, have ceased to be lived and received for what each had and produced specific, flour or fabric. From that moment, this flour and this fabric existed above all by and for their capacity to exchange with each other, and were treated from what they had in common: to be both of them different but comparable results of the same practice, the work, likely to be reduced to a universal and quantifiable datum, the average human effort necessary to produce this flour and this fabric. From then on these two objects were produced for what they had in common, this substance called value .

Then, a decisive change is the passage of the exchange of one commodity for another (flour / fabric), aiming to satisfy two needs that meet, to an exchange aiming to obtain, not a particular useful object, of flour or cloth, but money intended to buy any possible object, or to be saved or invested.

Work crystallized, money gives value a material form.

Money is not born of practical necessities, for example to facilitate barter, as a convenient means of exchanging a sack of flour for a length of cloth without either of the two trocers "losing it". Credit and debt precede money - as proof, the masses of ancient peasants in debt before the invention of money.

Whatever their origins, work and money have become inseparable. Even in the immaterial forms of smart card and line of credit, money materializes the way in which activities relate to each other, and human beings to each other, and "in the last resort" to classes to others.

If value is revealed and manifested in exchange, its source lies in work, and money serves to connect what separates the division of labor.

As the long-time historian Fernand Braudel once said, "The misfortune is that the market is there, and then you do not see what's going on underneath. "

2.3 The Wage Earner Makes Work a Commodity

With wage labor, work is not just an activity for money: it is bought and sold.

With the generalized purchase-sale of the labor force, for the first time in history, social classes are distinguished directly according to the respective place (bourgeois or proletarian) occupied by each in the production. The necessary work / work relationship structures the world. No society can live without productive activity, but modern society is the first to live under the domination of (salaried) labor.

This crucial fact is doubly obscured. First, the general payroll trend where "everyone works", even the CEO, blurs the opposition between worker and non-worker. Next, 2 to 3 billion unemployed or semi-proletarian proletarians seem to be outside the wage earners of which they are nevertheless part.

This generalization of a wage-earning class creates a completely new situation, including for those condemned to total or partial unemployment. The slave, the serf and the sharecropper had no other historical perspective than to get rid of the domination of the master, the lord or the landowner, to work in freedom. Today, the computer assembler or the employee of the oil palm field will emancipate himself only by putting an end to his own existence as a labor force bearer, this commodity which potentially contains all the others. . Only merchandise labor can get rid of work. The program is no longer to liberate work, but to free oneself from work. Work is what turns activity into purchasable labor, and recognizes human capabilities only as a work force.

2.4 Work is Separate Activity

Work is the form taken by the production of the conditions of material life when the activity to produce them has been detached from the rest of the activities, in varying degrees and forms. The modern-day workforce cuts the time between work, home, school, hobbies, unemployment, holidays, etc., and the space between places to earn money, live, shop, entertain, and so on.

The space-time of non-work is not a capitalist creation: it coexists with that of work since the appearance of work. The capitalist novelty is to push the separation to the extreme, accentuating the break between what is productive and non-productive value.

2.5 The Work is Productivity and Accounting

Organized into competing companies, each of which is a value-center in search of optimal growth, capitalism logically tends to increase overwork at the expense of the necessary labor. The work carries in it productivity and standardization, with permanent search for the most effective methods to reduce the costs by renewing the processes of manufacture: the famous "development of the productive forces". Work and value - not one without the other - involve production for production - in fact for the accumulation of value - and with it "productivism" and planned obsolescence.

Today, we constantly measure things against each other, compare and exchange them according to the average working time they incorporate or are supposed to incorporate, which also leads us to evaluate acts and people.

The increase in productivity (the increase in the surplus labor which creates new value in relation to the work necessary for the simple reproduction of the labor force) is essential in all that we have discussed so far. If the quest for productivity is an irresistible force, with such destructive effects on man and nature, it is because the race for superior profitability is the engine of capitalism, its strength, and the ultimate cause of its crises. In order to be more profitable than its competitors, each company is led to intensify the work, develop the machinery and increase the share of capital invested in equipment, tools, robots, etc., increasing its weight of value to value and ending up undergoing diminishing returns.

2.6 Work is Reducing Everything to a Minimum of Time

If human societies have been devoting themselves for a few centuries to an ever more precise and rigorous measure of time, it is to save money in order to shorten production times. The obsession with "winning" time, and the obsession with "losing" it, are indissoluble in capitalism. To work is to fight against time.

On the contrary, human beings for whom the frantic search for productivity is not an imperative have no need to measure in every thing the minutes and seconds necessary to produce it.

The best way to make energy expenditure as productive as possible is to measure it in time in order to shorten that time. For this reason, the separation between work and the rest of life is essential to the counting of time, which is itself at the heart of value: we can not measure a moment and the effort provided during this moment, unless this time segment is detached from others.

We know how much to pay for a housekeeper: we can not know how much "is worth" what the housewife does at home. Even if the two perform exactly the same tasks between 9 o'clock and noon, these 180 minutes do not have the same meaning for the employee coming to perform a three-hour performance, and for the housewife busy at home in the middle of various tasks.

Even the "piecework" wages of a single worker on his machine will be calculated according to the number of seconds needed to make each piece.

In fact, one can not really reduce the work to time, because the working time, by social average definition, is not calculable for each task or each object. The wage of the worker on his machine will be the price of a work for which it would be impossible to calculate the value, the specific contribution of this worker to all the value created in the company. Money may be crystallized labor, but it exists as an instrument of the circulation of goods only to the extent that the goods return to each other, and not by the exact calculation of the quantity of labor each of which carries. and a particular teapot are comparable in weight, not by the two specific energy expenditures required to produce that bread and teapot. Whatever Taylor may have believed, no scientific method will ever quantify the new value added of a particular job in a shop or office.

"Rational madness," Taylorism is none the less consistent with the necessities of capital. (19) When a computer mouse mat factory puts equipment in place that forces the employee to produce more for the same pay, management is unaware of the precise increase in value that will result from knowing exactly how much she pays the worker, how much is expected to produce mouse mats on time and how much she will sell each carpet. The important thing is that the introduction of the new equipment forces the worker to be more productive. All that the bourgeois knows, and that it counts, are the prices, and first the wages and the profits, and although they speak of value and value creation economists willingly consider as metaphysical speculation the "value" we are dealing with here.

The capitalist struggle against time has the effect of permanent programmed obsolescence of goods. Another consequence is the obsession with saving time in everyday life. Both phenomena have accelerated for twenty or thirty years, giving rise in turn to a denunciation of speed and the "dictatorship of immediacy", a eulogy of slowness, slow food ... reactions without much impact because they do not go back to work time.

More than thirty years ago, a survey by Barbara Garson showed how computers are transforming the office of tomorrow into a "sweatshop" of yesterday . (20) The employee responsible for airline ticket reservations by telephone saw his work divided into four mandatory phases, timed and monitored. "To control everything is the purpose of the system," said one employee. Not only because "the system" knows everything that everyone does every moment. And especially because, for the "system" to know, the decomposition of each gesture has made the work even less understandable by those who do it (at the very moment when the operation of our current objects becomes infinitely more mysterious than the engine of a fridge).

When in 1966 an MIT researcher came up with the ELIZA program, an automated therapist who responded without human intervention to medical questions, this expert system gained wide agreement, many already considering a human therapist "as an information processor and a taker of decision ". If this shortening of human skills was possible, it was because knowledge and the social relation had previously been reduced to mechanics, the quantifiable.

Computerization is not the cause: a machine does not make the social relation. Capitalism favors the result (the product) over the process, the (measurable) object over the relation, and from the work the decomposable and quantifiable tasks on the continuity of the whole. But why bother to reduce the cost of labor, which remains a small part of the cost of production? According to official statistics, around 1980, in the metal industry, direct work accounted for 10% of the total cost. Thirty years later, for a pair of Nike Air Pegasus sold for $ 70 in the United States, there is $ 3 salary (in Asia), 16 raw materials, 16 design and advertising, or $ 35. In addition $ 35 of distribution. In summary, $ 3 of labor on a production cost of 35, and for a sale price of 70.(21)

This is because the game is not played from an accounting point of view. It is about controlling the direct workers who, unlike executives, advertisers and machines, are likely to resist or strike. "That's why," concluded B. Garson, "any large mass of workers that can be automated will be." Automated does not necessarily mean that robots will replace, but their work is organized to become controllable at any time. At least in theory, because it is always the one who does the work that will be best able to control the work. As the old worker at Renault said: "Your boss pays you for your work, not for the way you do the work. Beginning 20th century, we install counters on typewriters to check the number of keystrokes: some typists retaliate leaving wider spaces, not striking once, but 2, 3, 4 or 5 times the spacebar.

2.7 The Labor-King Society

Our order of presentation is not chronological: we do not go back to the origins of work, knowing that in real history these elements did not take the same importance at the same time. It took millennia before an exchange of equivalents , that is to say, according to the more or less rigorous estimate of the necessary working time, and that the "law of value" came to equalize the work. private. Moreover, "money", counting in terms of value and producing and circulating goods according to an exchange of equivalents, precedes itself the currency in the sense we know it: instruments reserved only to this function (and not used also for other uses, currents or rituals). Minting is late (7th century BC BC).

In the world in which we live, each of the six aspects that we have distinguished for the convenience of the exposition is a condition of others. For example, to force men and women to "earn a living" through wage labor, they had to be deprived of self-sustaining livelihoods (2.1). Or, to measure the work supposes to separate it from the rest of the activities (2.4). Only modern capitalism fully develops the constituent elements of work.

Although only a minority of the world's population receives a salary, and an even smaller minority benefits from a contract in good form (with fixed and duly paid wages, labor rights, social security contributions and possible union dues), the wage-earning dominates no less.

Capitalist forms determine precapitalist forms. The 9-year-old Turk who keeps her parents' goats contributes to the family income. Meanwhile, one of his brothers lives odd jobs in the nearby town, and the elder works in Germany factory, where in ten years perhaps the young Turkish will be hired as a cleaning lady. This family is integrated into the overall reproduction of the capital / labor ratio. The global market is attracting more and more people in its logic, a minority of Earth now lives only a "subsistence economy", and work and money penetrate the heart of shantytowns.

Everything depends on the perspective. For a sociologist or an anthropologist, the activity of the girl remains "enshrined" in pre-capitalist relations, and he will describe how his kinship ties are saturated with archaism, for example because the family is destined for an arranged marriage. The anthropologist will not be wrong. But for those who want to grasp the reality of work, the method is to look for what is common between this young Turk, a Maruti Suzuki worker and a Bolivian bank employee (which does not mean that the three have the same possible impact on the course of history).

The dominant social relationship (wage labor) is not the only one to exist, but it determines all others, including voluntary activity (ie indirectly paid for by paid work), including slavery (forced unpaid labor with absolute boss control over the worker, estimated at between 20 and 30 million worldwide). And when one reads that the informal economy would concern 40% (mostly women) of the so-called active world population, this statistic uses a category produced by the wage-earners who classify separately what does not fall within the strict framework of the (employment contract. (22)

Do not confuse work and employment . The undeniable fact that there are and will be fewer hires than unemployed on Earth does not prevent productive work from remaining in the center of the world today. What is called "social security" refers to the place of work: the money paid (or not) to the student, the unemployed, the sick, the family, the old, the disabled, is granted to categories that can not, not yet or more work. Although public opinion denounces the money-king (and more subtle theoreticians the domination of value), it would be more accurate to say that we live under the reign of work, that is to say, wage labor. (23)

3. Neither Work nor Economy

The purpose of Part 2 was to identify six characteristics which together constitute the work: necessary work / overwork and division into classes; value ; merchandising; separation; productivity and accounting; and the time. Our ambition is not to build a theoretical machine that would cease to function as soon as we detach a piece, as if, for lack of three of its components, the work would only half exist: only abstraction requires to separate categories that in reality are nested.

To grasp the possible link between capitalism and revolution abolishing work, instead of taking the six elements separately, let's consider them now as a whole.

3.1 Production is Not Economy

"Production" is often assimilated to the craft or industrial production of objects. It seems more accurate to consider with Alain Testart that there is production "whenever the means of work are applied to a raw material to turn it into a consumable product in a form in which it was not before." (24) Hunter, gatherer and fisher, unlike the predator, using weapons and knowledge. In producing, man also produces instruments or means of production, for example a bow for hunting. With agriculture, man modifies nature by the voluntary sowing of nourishing plants: from hunter-gatherer, he becomes "producer".

But production is not synonymous with economics.

The difficulty is to understand that the production of the material conditions of existence has become this reality called economy, progressively independent of the rest of life, until becoming in modern times a distinct sphere, with separation between space-time dedicated to making money (work) and other activities.

There is no "economic history" because the economy is a historical fact that has not reigned at all times and in all places. For example, the notion of "per capita income" or "households" only makes sense where there is an individual person or a nuclear household. (25)

Malthus attributed the possible crisis of capitalism to a population increase greater than the increase in resources, especially food. Environmentalists explain history by the ability or inability of societies to adjust their environment to their needs. Even rejuvenated by taking into account natural data and the need to renew the resources used, economic thought is nonetheless economic: its problem n ° 1 is to balance the means and ends. It's morality based on accounting.

Gregory Clark writes in an otherwise well-documented book: "In the Malthusian era the economic laws governing human society are the same as those governing all animal societies. " (26) The main theme of the story is the evolution of the relationship between the available resources and the population, human or animal: the same reasoning applies to the inhabitants of Charleville-Mézières as to the neighboring Ardennes deer.

Yet, far from being an apologist for progress, Gregory Clark argues, with figures, hunter-gatherers spend between 4 and 5 hours a day gathering food, that in 1800 the average Terran did not live better that 100,000 years before Jesus Christ, that in Asia his condition was even worse, and that the so-called primitive "produced" then more calories per hour of "work" than the civilized in England. The fact is sobering, but what these figures show, if not a desire to reduce everything to measurable, as if the Amazonian and Yorkshire laborer lived the same social relationship, separated only by different degrees on a scale of production and production. consumption?

The dominant mental pattern has changed little since Saint-Simon: "The production of useful things is the only reasonable and positive goal that political societies can offer." The ideal would therefore be a society in which "All men work. The obligation is imposed on everyone to constantly give his personal strength a direction useful to society. "( Industry , 1811-1812) At Saint-Simon, is a" producer "as well the merchant or the farmer as the worker and the industrialist. (Socialism, he will want to remove the merchant and melt the worker and the industrialist in one figure.)

For economic thought, society is based on the production and distribution of resources. The socialist economist adds to it the criterion of utility and justice, the ecological economist the obligation of harmony with nature, but it is always a matter of administering a surplus: the relation between labor and Overworking goes for obviousness: it is about producing food, shelter, treatment ... then coming to what is the salt of life. The useful before the pleasant. The soup before the concert. Let's be ants to be cicada.

Keeping the necessary work / overwork report means keeping the job.

The basic mistake is to make everything start from the need to satisfy vital needs. Without food, I die: this evidence has meaning only connected to the fact that human existence is social. I do not eat first, to live in society then. Hunger is always lived and treated according to the conditions imposed on men (according to whether they live in Alaska or Tahiti) and their social organization . This one does not intervene in more Both play at once: cold weather is no more the cause of Inuit social life than tropical moisture is the cause of that of the Tahitians. No vital necessity has priority over the social link: between the two, there is simultaneity. This is so under capitalism. Likewise in revolution. Similarly in communism. Except that production will no longer play the same role.

Our question is not: How does man produce? Neither: What does it produce? (educational software or assault rifles?) But: What place does production occupy in human life?

According to a widespread idea in the radical milieu, the objective would obviously not be to "produce to produce", but to create the minimum necessary abundance otherwise there would be no possible human emancipation.

Alfred Rosmer wrote in 1923: "Communism presupposes and demands abundance, because the distribution of products must be simple and easy. (27)

The real motive of this imperative of production is not to allow over-consumption: Rosmer makes abundance a priority because he sees in it the necessary condition of a just distribution .

Conversely, others make frugal moderation the condition of a free and supportive community. In The Depossessed of Ursula Le Guin (1974), the planet Anarres owes much of its rather libertarian lifestyle to the harshness of the climate, which favors mutual help and makes it difficult to accumulate.

Whether one prefers abundance or sobriety, in both visions, the priority remains economic. This is what to criticize.

3.2 Communism as an Activity

A habitual criticism of capitalism reproaches it with manufacturing goods without taking care of real needs, and then proposing these goods on a market: the satisfaction of needs is only a consequence. This conception proposes to do the opposite: starting from the needs, but needs this time supposed real and decided collectively, that it wants to satisfy by an adequate production and to distribute equitably, without the mediation of a market, thanks to a community organization, democratized or self-managed.

It neglects that the need is also an economic category

Observe that it is almost always defined negatively: do not die of hunger, cold or sickness, do not sleep in the rain, etc. We talk about need , it's the lack we're thinking about.

That the human species has basic necessities, such as eating and sleeping, is obvious, just as it is imperative to match them to existing resources. What is false is the idea that human life is primarily about meeting needs. We only satisfy them (or fail to satisfy them) in the midst of social interrelations. It takes exceptional circumstances for us to eat for the sole purpose of not starving. For the human being, eating will always be more than eat. In general, we eat in the company of other people, chosen or not, or we decide to eat alone, or we are obliged to, which is still a social situation. Often we follow a diet, dietary or not. We sometimes skip a meal and overeat or drink. The same is true of all our activities, which are rightly called vital. As Marx wrote in The German Ideology , filling vital needs creates immediately creates new needs, and "this production of new needs is the first historical fact".

Contrary to a common mistake, the "materialistic conception of history" does not say that "the economy" leads the world. This is often how the first part of The German Ideology is read yet Marx supports everything else. First, social relations depend on how we produce our material conditions, not, for example, our ideas of the world. Secondly, we produce these material conditions in relation to other human beings, and in class societies, in class relationships. Not only does the "materialist conception" not make the "economy" the engine of human evolution, but it can explain how the current domination of the economy over the world is a historical phenomenon, unknown in prehistory, less important in Athens 500 BC than in Athens in 2015, and will disappear with communism.

Without developing what is discussed from crisis to communization, let us say here that our problem is not to invent the society that will be able to parallel needs and resources (as economists want), or transform needs artificial and extravagant in reasonable needs to achieve sufficient frugality (as environmentalists wish). It's about understanding basic needs for what they are. The first human need, wrote Marx, is that of the other. We would say: the need to feed ourselves is indissoluble from the need of the other, and both are satisfied (or not) at the same time. We must eat, of course, and social relationships do not fill empty stomachs, but we eat inside social relationships.

This is true in the revolutionary period: "without reservation", the proletarian has no money, no food, no (at the very beginning) weapon, and his only strength is to act with other proletarians.

Admittedly, initially the pressure of circumstances (internal conflicts, armed struggle, shortage ...) will sometimes lead the insurgents to share and distribute at the fairest (in both senses of the word), so, whether it pleases or not, rationing. But the revolution would be condemned if it proved incapable of distinguishing the urgency from its fundamental "program", if the urgency came to determine the substance.

We will not ask ourselves, "How many roof tiles are needed for this house? But: "How to live? ". From there, we will see for what type of house it takes x tiles for y square meters of roof: delete accounting is not give up the use of numbers.

The driving force of the communizing action will not be the best or the most equal way of distributing goods, but the human relations and the resulting activities: in communisation, the activity is more important than its productive result, because result depends on the activity and the links that the insurgents can and will What makes the proletarian insurgent act is not the need to eat, it is to create with other proletarians a social relationship, which among other effects will feed him.

The need to produce food, to grow carrots, for example, will be satisfied through social relationships that, among other activities, will grow vegetables, which does not mean that every minute and hour of horticulture will be lived in. a joy without a cloud.

The counter-revolution will obviously exploit inevitable disorders and local shortages. The revolution will not respond by reviving a more efficient industry, nor will it get rid of bourgeois armies by creating a stronger army. Realism is rarely where we expect it. It is the bureaucrats who will not fail to present themselves as "practical" people, explaining that an insurrectional spontaneity must succeed the productive organization, the only one able to solve the vital and urgent problems. With a few big and small transformations, the ideology of "common sense" (a hammer or a computer, we will say, is neutral, it is neither capitalist nor communist) will promote a concern for efficiency that, despite a different discourse, will have all the features of productivity. But work and productivity are linked. The work normalizes. To count the time in the production requires to separate it from the rest of the time, thus to detach from life a distinct moment called work . The revolution can not save time one of its priorities.

The division of labor will not be surpassed simply by a permanent division of tasks. Versatile work remains work. Work in cooperation too: collective work is work. Work two hours a day too. The replacement of private producers by Community production, or the systematic re-allocation of tasks, has a communist sense only if the products are not compared - and therefore are not comparable - with each other (and thus the activities which have them products) from the calculation (implicit or not) of the actual or assumed average working time to manufacture them. Because if we count, if social life revolves around this measure, whatever the mode of association, sooner or later the value will reappear, even in the community with the most fraternal intentions.(28)

* * *

This text opened on a fictitious boss offering illusory jobs. In the so-called real world, many of our contemporaries "earn their living" by inventing advertisements that others then print, deposit in mailboxes, recover at the dump to make recycled paper on which will be printed new prospectuses, while experts are paid to analyze everything, and thinkers to deplore it. The surrealists wondered if we suffered from too little or too much reality ... In any case, never the "absurdity" of work will be enough to overthrow him. It will take nothing less than a revolution. We are not unaware that "there is something ridiculous about talking about revolution": "But everything elseis even more derisory, since it concerns the existing, and various forms of its acceptance. » (29)



(1) Curious fate as that of these reading notes commonly called Grundrisse and only published in Moscow in German in the middle of the Maelstrom of the Second World War. Almost unknown until the second German edition in 1953, the text was available in French only in 1967-68, and later still in the other European languages ​​(in 1973 for English).

(2) Engels, Anti-Duhring , 1878, 3 e part, Ch.2:

(3) Notes on F. List , Works , Gallimard, III, 1982, pp. 1418-1451.

(4) Id. , Pp. 1111 and 1123.

(5) Capital , Book I, Works , Gallimard, I, 1963, p.570.

(6) Id. , P. 1420.

(7) Id. , P. 605.

(8) Group of Internationalist Communists of Holland (GICH), Fundamentals of Communist Production and Distribution:

(9) Short autobiography of J. Appel: .

(10) OJTR, A World Without Money: Communism , Chap. V, Ed. Of Sandre, 2013.

(11) In 1932, Berle and Means had been among the first to theorize a managerial capitalism in Property & Control in big business .

Bruno Rizzi (1901-1977) published in 1939 the bureaucratization of the world . For a review by Pierre Souyri of the reissue of the book at Champ Libre in 1976:

On the criticism of Bordiga's thesis of "bureaucratic" or "state" capitalism, see among others: The Devil's Doctrine to the Body, 1951:

And his Theses on Russia , 1952:

(12) Maximilien Rubel, Marx criticism of Marxism (1974 and 1983), Entremonde, 2011:

(13) Works, I, Gallimard, p. 1240.

(14) Let us not idealize the 1840s as having shown genuine communism abandoned afterwards. The Principles of Communism Engels in 1847 foreshadowed what will be the socialist program some decades later: "(..) concentrate increasingly in the hands of the state all capital, agriculture and industry, transport and trade. (..) [These] measures (..) will achieve their centralizing effect as the country's productive forces grow through the work of the proletariat. Finally, when all the capital, all the production and all the exchanges are concentrated in the hands of the State, the private property will fall of itself, the money will become superfluous (..) ".

Over this period, a very good history book: Alain Maillard, The Community of Equals. Neo-Babouvist Communism in France in the 1840s , Kimé, 1999.

(15) The role of labor work in the transformation of the monkey into a man, 1876:

(16) Economic Outlook for our grandchildren:

(17) In his Manifesto Against Labor (1999), Krisis describes work as no longer necessary for capitalism, which on the one hand has less and less need of it and, for what he keeps, the void meaningless.

(18) Bob Black sums up the dominant thinking in radical circles: "My minimal definition of work is forced labor, compulsory production. These two parameters are essential. (..) Work violates freedom. ( Abolition of work, 1985)

(19) B. Doray, Taylorism, rational madness?, Dunod, 1981.

(20) The Electronic Sweatshop. How Computers Are Transforming the Office of the Future in the Factory of the Past, Penguin, 1988.

(21) D. Cohen, Three Lessons on Post-Industrial Society, Seuil, 2006.

(22) B. Lautier, The Informal Economy in the Third World, Benchmarks, 2004.

(23) GD, The baker & the theorist (on the theory of the form-value) , 2014:

For a detailed analysis of value and communism: Bruno Astarian, Value and its abolition , Entremonde, 2017.And on the Internet:

On what is and is not work today: On work: the issue of 7 errors:

(24) Before the story, Gallimard, 2012.

(25) This does not prevent Th. Piketty from measuring the relationship between return on capital (wealth wealth) and the growth rate over 2,000 years as if these realities were worth from ancient Rome to contemporary New York.

(26) A Farewell to Alms. A Brief Economic History of the World, Princeton UP, 2007.

(27) Humanity, February 3, 1923, quoted in Ch. Gras, Alfred Rosmer (1877-1964) and the international revolutionary movement, Maspéro, 1971.

(28) To know a little more about what a communist revolution would do, see Chapter 5 ("The Creative Insurrection") of the book from which this text is extracted: From Crisis to Communism , Entremonde, 2017 .

(29) Situationist International , n ° 6, 1961:

Taken from:



6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by sabot on January 19, 2018

I've relied on Google for the translation, so it will need some obvious clean up.


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on January 19, 2018


I've relied on Google for the translation, so it will need some obvious clean up.

ah right I wondered why the translation looked so bad!

Hopefully someone can help clean it up


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Craftwork on January 19, 2018

From Crisis to Communisation is due to be published by PM Press -, although I have no idea when. I believe the info on their site is incorrect.


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Spassmaschine on January 19, 2018


From Crisis to Communisation is due to be published by PM Press -, although I have no idea when. I believe the info on their site is incorrect.

Yeah, I pre-ordered a copy of this book back in January 2015(!), when its publication was supposedly imminent...


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by sabot on January 20, 2018



From Crisis to Communisation is due to be published by PM Press -, although I have no idea when. I believe the info on their site is incorrect.

Yeah, I pre-ordered a copy of this book back in January 2015(!), when its publication was supposedly imminent...

Same. It looks like the book was published in French during the summer. Not sure where PM Press is with it's own translation/edition.


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Hieronymous on January 20, 2018

Gilles writes quite a bit in English, so you might contact him to ask if he has an English version.


6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by

Submitted by comrade_emma on April 21, 2018



6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Jay_S on January 20, 2018

I've been waiting on that PM Press book for quite some time. It really is too bad that more of Dauve's translated material isn't available in print form.


6 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by rasquache on January 23, 2018

I am now working on a translation of this text. The text is fairly long but I may have it done by the end of this week.


6 years ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on May 22, 2018


forgot to post it here. my bad! : getting rid of work.

thanks, would you mind if we hosted that here as well to replace this bad machine translation? With a credit and link to you of course