The Cult of Work

A strange mania governs the working class of all countries in which capitalist civilization rules, a mania that results in the individual and collective misery that prevails in modern society. This is the love of work, the furious mania for work, extending to the exhaustion of the individual and his descendants. The parsons, the political economists, and the moralists, instead of contending against this mental aberration, have canonized work. In capitalist society, work is the cause of mental deterioration and physical deformity. Contemplate the wild savage, before missionaries of commerce and the traveling salesman for articles of faith have yet corrupted him with Christianity, syphilis, and the dogma of work, and then compare our strained machine slaves with him.

If we wish to find a trace of the primitive beauty of man in our civilized Europe, it is necessary to go to the nations in which politico-economic prejudice has not yet eradicated the hatred of work. To the Spaniard, in whom the primitive animal has not yet been killed, work is the worst slavery. The Greeks also, during the period of their greatest bloom, had but disdain for work; the slave alone was permitted to labor, the free man knew but physical exercise and play of the intellect. Jehova, the Old Testament God of the Jews, sets his worshipers the most sublime example: after six days’ work, he rests for all eternity.

When the employees shall have thoroughly liberated themselves from the vice that governs them and degrades their nature, it is not to demand the famous Rights of Man which are but the rights of capitalist exploitation, not to proclaim the Right to Work which is only the right to misery, but to forge an iron law forbidding every one to work more than three hours a day. But how can a manly decision be expected from a proletariat corrupted by capitalist morals! Like Christ, the embodied suffering of the slavery of ancient times, our proletariat, men, women and children, for a century has climbed the rough Mount Calvary of suffering.

O, Laziness, have thou mercy upon this eternal misery! O, Laziness, mother of the arts and the noble virtues, be thou balsam for the pains of mankind!

Paul Lafargue – The Right To Be Lazy

Published by Diogenes

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