Work in capitalism & anarchism - Thinking About Anarchism - I Hate Mondays


Unemployment is at alarming levels. There are hundreds of thousands of workers who would take any job. At least it is better than being on the dole. But of course that is what unemployment is all about. It is a tool the bosses use to discipline those in work and help them keep wages low. Also, as workers are let go those remaining are expected to take on more work. Few workers are resisting this. Most just want to hang on to what they have.

Unfortunately all this makes us forget that work, as it is under capitalism, is a pretty unattractive proposition. Most workers still hate Mondays knowing that the week ahead has little to offer except a repeat of last week and the week before that. Most work is boring and repetitive. You spend most of your day doing what you have done day in and day out.
Workers have no control over their work. They do not decide what is produced, how much will be produced, when and under what conditions. There is no sense in being really fulfilled or socially useful. Indeed a lot of products produced at the moment have no real social value. All workers see at the end of the week is their wage packet, which for most is the only good reason to work. They also see the boss creaming off the profits and able to afford a bigger house, bigger car, bigger everything.
In an anarchist society, work would be radically different. The economy would be planned and would not be prone to the booms and slumps that we have now. Thousands of workers would not be thrown out of work because it is not profitable to continue production. Production would be to meet people’s needs. 
The working day could be radically reduced. All the unemployed would be brought into productive activity. Unproductive jobs such as advertising and anti-social production such as in the arms industry would be done away with. Ads are only needed when there is more than one type of a particular product. For example, we have at least ten brands of washing powder, which all wash whiter than white. In an anarchist society we would produce one, the best one. Goods would be made to last to ensure that time and resources are not wasted continually producing those that only last a short time. Thus there would be more people producing the goods we need and want.
Technology would be developed and its use expanded to the benefit of workers. All of this would ensure that workers have the time to do what they want to do. Nobody would be left doing the really boring, repetitive and dirty jobs, which would be rotated. Everybody would be expected to do some of this work. Everybody who could would be expected to work, but people will want to do so as work would be controlled by the workers, who would make all the decisions knowing that their work is not going towards making vast profits for the boss. Work will be a way of contributing to the overall good of society. 
Of course this does not mean that we should not fight to make work easier at the moment. We welcome all improvements in working conditions. We fight for better wages and for a shorter working week, not only because it creates more jobs but also because it gives workers more free time.

From Workers Solidarity 123 Sept/Oct 2011