File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0106, message 24

Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 13:29:55 +0100
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Weeping in a Rolls-Royce]


On a less experiential basic response - my lodestone for such issues remains the
work of Andre Gorz whose work from the late 70s and early 80s has always seemed
to me to be exemplary - ('Farewell to the working class' and 'Paths to Paradise
- on the liberation from work') the following are my personal favorite

- the necssity for the invention of a 'policy of time'  the re-establishment of
a political objective from both unions and the state of decreasing the volume of
working hours.
- the understanding of work as an imposition - a 'heterodetermined, heteronomous
activity, percieved by those who have it as a nondescript sale of time' and
- the concept of an income for life - not as negative income tax (Friedman) but
a gauranteed income independent of a job. The gaurantee of a each citizin to
recieve the product of the socially necessary labour which s/he has to provide
in a lifetime.
- current tendencies are for the distribution of labour in the following way -
25% core workers who work continuously for the orgnaisation, 25% contract
workers who supply temporary additional high levels of skill sets usually
contract or consultancy - but are a disposable commodity, 50% lumpen proletariat
low skilled workforce (probably no requirement to educate or keep healthy). But
this is not a sustainable model and is contradicted by the inward facing model
of post-modern capitalism.... In other words its a bleaker picture than we need
to accept as an analysis of the post-modern socio-economic system.

I prefer his work to say Bravermans or some current commentators because it, in
some sense proposes an understanding, a utopian vision as a way out of this mess
we find ourselves in.

My favorite initial proposal is as follows:

During the 20th C productivity per employed person has increased 12 fold.
Micro-electronics, IT and Telecommunications has increased productivty with a
net loss in human employment 6fold in the last 25 years. All with a net decrease
in the numbers of human employees.

Proposal: all computers used in organisations should be taxed as if they were
working human beings - countries and states that do not do so will have levies
placed on imported goods to ensure an equitable internal market... The resultant
taxation to be used to minimise human working hours...



"Smith, Donald S" wrote:

> Steve, with regard to your comments about work, following is my experience:
> I have worked for the same large corporation since 1968. Parts of the
> company are unionized but we "white collar" workers are not. In the 60's and
> 70's everyone except middle level managers and above were paid overtime for
> all hours over 40 each week. We also took organized 15 minute breaks
> mornings and afternoons. Lunchtime was an hour.
> Today many people work extra hours each week with no extra pay. Also, With
> the advent of home computers and the internet, much extra work is done from
> home. Long hours are considered nearly mandatory for anyone expecting to be
> promoted into management. Breaks are a thing of the past. We are not closely
> supervised so unorganized breaks can be taken at any time but on balance I
> believe much more break time was used when breaks were organized. Lunch is
> technically still an hour but unlike in the past many people don't leave
> their desks and It seems like 30 minutes is a more typical lunch period. We
> get 12 paid holidays a year and that has not changed since the 60's.
> vacation ranges from two weeks for five years to 6 weeks after 30 years.
> However, it now takes longer to accrue vacation than it did in the 60's and
> 70's.
> Those are the statistics but in addition, there is a subjective difference
> in work. Somehow the corporation has managed to make work a very serious
> business. There is very little joking around as opposed to the past and much
> less fraternizing. Corporate communications continuously remind workers that
> they are in a struggle for survival. War analogies are often used.
> As a manager, I generally assign more work than can be accomplished with
> quality in 40 hours. Those who find a way to complete the work are
> recognized with higher raises and promotions.
> On balance, I would say that we now work longer hours without compensation
> than we did in the 60's.
> Don
> -----Original Message-----
> From: steve.devos []
> Sent: Friday, June 01, 2001 2:36 PM
> To:
> Subject: [Fwd: Weeping in a Rolls-Royce]
> All
> I was interested in this email (from sciene as culture list) because of the
> extraordinay claims that we are working more now than in the 1960s. I feel
> deeply
> suspicious of this claim. My suspicions are founded on the distrust I feel
> for
> people who suggest things are worse now than they were for our parents and
> grandparents - this level of pessimism always makes me want to scrutinise
> their
> evidence. On a personal basis however I remember my father working standard
> 6 day
> weeks and occasionally 7 days - in addition he only had two weeks holiday.
> His
> father worked the same regime but only one weeks unpaid holiday a year. To
> claim
> that a 21st worker is working longer hours than our forefathers is I suspect
> to
> massage the evidence in unacceptable ways.
> Compare these hours to myself - I never work weekends without days off in
> leiu-
> 25days holiday a year, have a standard 37.5 hours working week and work
> probably 45
> hours and sometimes 50 hrs a week if travelling to the USA on business..
> These are
> not unsual working hours -
> It is true however that working time directives are essential - standard 30
> hour
> weeks - preferably over 4 days... are a desirable and achievable goal.
> regards
> sdv


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