(Ackerman 2012) The work of anti-work

Ackerman, Seth. The work of anti-work: a response to Peter Frase [Internet]. Jacobin. 2012 May 22. Available from: http://jacobinmag.com/blog/2012/05/the-work-of-anti-work-a-response-to-peter-frase/. Accessed 2012 May 23. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/67suffmKj.

Ackerman responds to Peter Frase’s “Category errors” with a defense of full employment as an important goal for the Left and a critique of Frase’s project of destigmatizing unemployment. According to Ackerman, the stigma attached to unemployment is not an arbitrary prejudice or a manifestation of a simplistic work ethic that holds labor to be intrinsically desirable; it is a consequence of the Left’s fundamental concern with equality. Fairness demands equal sharing of the burdens (including labor), as well as the rewards, of the collective social enterprise of production. The Communist Manifesto had called for “equal liability of all to work.” Even privileged elites throughout history have recognized that evasion of work is ethically questionable, and have freely chosen to work in the absence of economic necessity, or have tried to justify refusal of work by claiming that they offer other benefits to society. Normalization of unemployment with a guaranteed income, if possible at all, will embitter and divide the working class. The ultimate elimination of wage labor for all remains a fundamental goal of the Left, but can only be achieved through gradual reduction of working hours under conditions of full employment.



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