Chapter 4

Submitted by GrouchoMarxist on April 25, 2012

The deformed man always finds mirrors that make him handsome.

de Sade

What madness the love of work is!

With great scenic skill capital has succeeded in making the exploited love exploitation, the hanged man the rope and the slave his chains.

This idealisation of work has been the death of the revolution until now. The movement of the exploited has been corrupted by the bourgeois morality of production which is not only foreign to it, it is also contrary to it. It is no accident that the trade unions were the first sector to be corrupted, precisely because of their closer proximity to the management of the spectacle of production.

It is time to oppose the non-work aesthetic to the work ethic.

We must counter the satisfaction of spectacular needs imposed by consumer society with the satisfaction of man’s natural needs seen in the light of that primary, essential need: the need for communism.

In this way the quantitative evaluation of needs is overturned. The need for communism transforms all other needs and their pressures on man.

Man’s poverty, the consequence of exploitation, has been seen as the foundation of future redemption. Christianity and revolutionary movements have walked hand in hand throughout history. We must suffer in order to conquer paradise or to acquire the class consciousness that will take us to revolution. Without the work ethic the Marxist notion of ‘proletariat’ would not make sense. But the work ethic is a product of the same bourgeois rationalism that allowed the bourgeoisie to conquer power.

Corporatism resurfaces through the mesh of proletarian internationalism. Everyone struggles within their own sector. At most they contact similar ones in other countries, through the unions. The monolithic multinationals are opposed by monolithic international unions. Let’s make the revolution but save the machinery, the working tool, that mythical object that reproduces the historical virtue of the bourgeoisie, now in the hands of the proletariat.

The heir to the revolution is destined to become the consumer and main actor of the capitalist spectacle of tomorrow. Idealised at the level of the clash as the beneficiary of its outcome, the revolutionary class disappears in the idealisation of production. When the exploited come to be enclosed within a class all the elements of the spectacular already exist, just as they do for the class of exploiters.

The only way for the exploited to escape the globalising project of capital is through the refusal of work, production and political economy.

But refusal of work must not be confused with ‘lack of work’ in a society which is based on the latter. The marginalised look for work. They do not find it. They are pushed into ghettos. They are criminalised. Then that all becomes part of the management of the productive spectacle as a whole. Producers and unemployed are equally indispensable to capital. But the balance is a delicate one. Contradictions explode and produce various kinds of crisis, and it is in this context that revolutionary intervention takes place.

So, the refusal of work, the destruction of work, is an affirmation of the need for non-work. The affirmation that man can reproduce and objectify himself in non-work through the various solicitations that this stimulates in him. The idea of destroying work is absurd if it is seen from the point of view of the work ethic. But how? So many people are looking for work, so many unemployed, and you talk about destroying work? The Luddite ghost appears and puts all the revolutionaries-who-have-read-all-the-classics to fright. The rigid model of the frontal attack on capitalist forces must not be touched. All the failures and suffering of the past are irrelevant; so is the shame and betrayal. Ahead comrades, better days will come, onwards again!

It would suffice to show what the concept of ‘free time’, a temporary suspension of work, is bogged down in today to scare proletarians back into the stagnant atmosphere of the class organisations (parties, unions and hangers-on). The spectacle offered by the bureaucratic leisure organisations is deliberately designed to depress even the most fertile imagination. But this is no more than an ideological cover, one of the many instruments of the total war that make up the spectacle as a whole.

The need for communism transforms everything. Through the need for communism the need for non-work moves from the negative aspect (opposition to work) to the positive one: the individual’s complete availability to themselves, the possibility to express themselves absolutely freely, breaking away from all models, even those considered to be fundamental and indispensable, such as those of production.

But revolutionaries are dutiful people and are afraid to break with all models, not least that of revolution which constitutes an obstacle to the full realisation of what the concept means. They are afraid they might find themselves without a role in life. Have you ever met a revolutionary without a revolutionary project? A project that is well defined and presented clearly to the masses? Whatever kind of revolutionary would be one who claimed to destroy the model, the wrapping, the very foundations of the revolution? By attacking concepts such as quantification, class, project, model, historical task and other such old stuff, one would run the risk of having nothing to do, of being obliged to act in reality, modestly, like everyone else. Like millions of others who are building the revolution day by day without waiting for signs of a fatal deadline. And to do this you need courage.

With rigid models and little quantitative games you remain within the realm of the unreal, the illusory project of the revolution, an amplification of the spectacle of capital.

By abolishing the ethic of production you enter revolutionary reality directly.

It is difficult even to talk about such things because it does not make sense to mention them in the pages of a treatise. To reduce these problems to a complete and final analysis would be to miss the point. The best thing would be an informal discussion capable of bringing about the subtle magic of wordplay.

It is a real contradiction to talk of joy seriously.