(Lafargue 1883) The right to be lazy

Lafargue, Paul. The right to be lazy. Translated by Charles Kerr. 1883. Available from: http://marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/. Accessed 2012 May 26. Other formats: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Paul_Lafargue__The_Right_To_Be_Lazy.html.

Lafargue attacks the work ethic from a Marxist perspective. Uncharacteristically for a Marxist, he is highly critical of the working class, condemning them for having internalized an ideology that had originally been imposed on them by capitalists. Profit and ideology motivate mass production beyond any limit of human need or even of market demand, leading to deflationary recessions, deterioration of product quality, exhaustion and degradation of workers, and hostile competition of workers against each other for jobs. Increased efficiency of production through automation exacerbates all of these evils as long as the work ethic is still accepted. Lafargue advocates a return to the disdain for work that had been characteristic of ancient pre-capitalist aristocratic elites, with heavy use of automation to avoid the ancient reliance on slavery. Lafargue proposes legislation to limit human physical labor to a strict maximum of three hours a day.


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Last revision: April 5, 2013