Television work and play
The first programme gave a glossy ‘To-morrow’s World’ treatment to the potential of the micro processors, with interviewers and presenters blissfully unaware of the contradictions. We heard how service industries would expand, and then saw computers taking the place of room service . . . We heard how leisure would become a big money- spinner, and next day found that those who have the leisure will be on the dole-or social security.
Let us turn from the fact that the planners of those programmes did not know any answers to the questions of the effects of the introduction of the new technology: and look at the final programme which showed that they did not even know the questions to be asked.Radio Times, 29.9.79.
I cannot but agree that we need to re-examine the real meaning of “work”. We took an enormous subject and we drew no conclusions.ibid.
We pre-suppose Labour in a form that stamps it as exclusively human. A spider conducts operations that resemble those of a weaver, and a bee puts to shame many an architect in the construction of her cells. But what distinguishes the worst architect from the best of the bees is this: that the architect raises his structure in imagination before he erects it in reality. At the end of every labour process we get a result that already existed in the imagination of the labourer at the commencement . . . he realises a purpose of his own . . . to which he subordinates his will.
Man does not merge into the materials of his undertaking, but proceeds from the material to his mental picture, from his mind to his model.
Art, indeed, consists in the conception of the result to be produced, before its realisation in the material writes Aristotle.
Men, who made tools of a standard type, must have formed in their minds images of the ends to which they laboured. Human culture is the outcome of this capacity for human thought Professor Oakley, Skill As a Human Possession.
We have much studied, and perfected, of late, the great civilised invention of the division of labour, only we give it a false name. It is not the labour that is divided, but MEN, divided into mere segments, broken into small fragments and crumbs of life, so that all the little intelligence that is left of a man is not enough to make a pin, but exhausts itself in making the point of a pin. The Stones of Venice.
is the breakdown of the processes involved in the making of the product into manifold operations performed by different workers.Braverman, p. 73.
Labour power has become a commodity. Its uses are no longer according to the needs of that who sells it—but of employers seeking to expand their capital. The most common mode of cheapening labour-power . . . is to break it up into its simplest elements.ibid.
All possible brainwork should be removed from the shop and centred in the planning—or lay-out department.Scientific Management.
In Socialist society all unintellectual labour, all monotonous dull labour, all labour that deals with unpleasant things and involves dreadful conditions will be done by machinery; and just as trees grow while the countryman is asleep, so while humanity is enjoying itself in cultured leisure, machinery will be doing the necessary and unpleasant work.
Every man must be free to choose his own work. No form of compulsion must be exercised over him. If there is, his work will not be good for him, will not be good in itself, and will not be good for others; and by work I simply mean activity of any kind.The Soul of Man under Socialism, Oscar Wilde.
In socialism work will become the ultimate form of art.Art, Labour and Socialism, William Morris.
For the worker, the craft satisfaction that arises from conscious and purposeful mastery of the labour process, will be combined with the marvels of science and the ingenuity of engineering. An age in which every one will be able to benefit from this combination.”H. Braverman, ibid.
The exchange of living labour for objectivised labour is the ultimate development of the value relation and of production resting on Value. But to the degree that large industry develops; the creation of the real wealth comes to depend less on labour-time—whose effectiveness is out of all proportion to the direct labour-time spent in their production, but depends rather on the general state of science and the progress of technology . . . Labour no longer appears so much to be included within the production process, rather the human being comes to relate more as watchman and regulator to the production process itself.
No longer does the worker insert a modified natural thing as middle link between the object and himself . . . he steps to the side of the productive process, instead of being its chief actor.
In this transformation it is the development of the social individual which appears as the great foundation stone of production and of wealth.
As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour-time ceases to be its measure, and exchange-value ceases to be the measure of use- value.
Production based on exchange value breaks down. The free development of individualities, not the reduction of necessary labour time to create surplus labour, but the general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic scientific development of individuals in the time set free.
The measure of wealth is then NOT labour time, but disposable time.Die Grundrisse, Karl Marx, p. 709.