1970s >> 1970 >> no-791-july-1970

Employers know people aren’t lazy

In which socialist journal did the following appear?

 

  Most people have a simple theory about work. They think they do not like it. The view is not just confined to employees. Throughout history, employers have assumed that unless they could hold some kind of economic or even physical threat over their workforce, idleness and indiscipline would take over.
Those rather simplistic beliefs have never entirely squared up with some observable trends in human behaviour. Left to themselves, the majority of people do not spend their time lazing around. They indulge in pursuits like gardening and home decorating which, to the traditional observer from Mars would look exactly like work, except maybe, that a higher level of energy and dedication is exhibited.

 

In fact this is from an article by Frank Broadway in Industry Week (15 May), the journal of the Confederation of British Industry — the employers’ equivalent of the TUC.

 

This should provide much food for thought for those who imagine Socialism could not work because people are lazy by nature. The fact is that the social sciences have shown Socialism to be possible. There is nothing in the nature or behaviour of human beings that would prevent them organising a society based on common ownership where work would be voluntary and where goods would be free.

 

The employers know well that people want and need to work. They have long cynically tried to pervert the findings of social science on this point so as to make more profits. As Broadway frankly put it:

 

  For nearly a hundred years industrialists have been watching, and sometimes subsidising, the infant sciences of industrial psychology and sociology in the hope that something would emerge to enable them to exercise a more dramatic influence over the motivations of their employees (our emphasis).

 

When employers argue that Socialism, with its democratically-controlled and voluntary work, is impractical because it is against so-called human nature, they know they are lying. It is time that the facts about work disclosed by social science found their way out of the boardrooms and the anti-human personnel departments and into the factories and offices where ordinary people work. After all it is not the employers who keep capitalism going but rather their employees who don’t yet realise that Socialism is possible.