DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

"Lazy" Persons

33 posts / 0 new
Last post
TheodoreJ
Offline
Joined: 8-10-13
Nov 26 2013 14:17
"Lazy" Persons

Hello everyone,

I was wondering specifically about what y'all's opinion of lazy people in anarco-communism or syndicalism. When I was growing up people told me communism never works because people are inherently lazy. As in they don't want to work thus necessary things like food and clothing would not be produced. Do you all accept this and have an answer to this or a refutation?

Many thanks, Theodore

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 14:49

"I don't want to work, please force me!"

Odd mentality.

Agent of the International's picture
Agent of the In...
Offline
Joined: 17-08-12
Nov 26 2013 15:33

The Right To Be Lazy: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lafargue/1883/lazy/

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 16:27
Quote:
what are the races for which work is an organic necessity? The Auvergnians; the Scotch, those Auvergnians of the British Isles

I take exception to this!

The Edit

One problem with lengthy 19th century Marxian (or is it Marxist?) tracts is that they read very much like lengthy 19th century Marxist (or is it ...) tracts. Stuff about 12 hour days and 6 year olds forced to work in factories doesn't quite ring true to residents of Western social (or is it liberal?) democracies. Although I'm sure the 12 hour day stuff does ring true to some; my own experience is more about 8 hour days with the odd stint of 10-12 hour days as the exception rather than the rule.

My contemporary take starts with the odd mentality I pointed to earlier. There are a couple of possible ripostes to that.

One is "well it's true though! I wouldn't work if I wasn't forced". To that I would reply "do you never help out your friends freely, or do you always charge a fee?" Usually people do help out their friends freely. I do it quite a lot, and people often offer help to me. Sometimes people aren't so willing, often they are quite tired after a forced day of work (often performing quite silly tasks like managing capital or persuading people to switch brands of capitalist), but that points to a problem in how we structure labour and perhaps the ends to which it is directed, rather than some human propensity to avoid labour altogether.

Another is "I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about whole families who avoid work generation after generation". I have never met these people though I am assured they exist. I've met a lot of people so it seems odd that I haven't met these lazy ones. From that I would conclude they are not in the overwhelming majority, and as such they form a smallish group. I would further conclude that seeing as work does seem to get done even though there are lots of people who avoid it, there are enough people who are willing to perform work right now, which suggests there would be enough to get the work done if we remove the compulsion to work.

And finally yes, I am pretty lazy too, but when something needs done and it looks like it will help either me or other people, I do get off my fat backside and do it and I don't think I'm particularly odd in that regard.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 26 2013 17:15

Scots are people, Scotch is a nippy sweety.

Most people are lazy under certain conditions (like wage slavery) and not when the task interests them, is useful from their point of view or will gain them some social status - here I'm thinking of something like taking children to a pantomime when you'll have to pretend to have an exhilarating experience confused

So much human creativity is wasted because it is expended on the avoidance of 'work' dictated by the need to earn a crust.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 17:23

Scotch is mist, Whisky is a nippy sweety wink That was a quote from Agent's linked document btw, I wouldn't call myself Scotch.

I know my thinking in #4 is pretty shallow and I want it improved on. I was faced with this exact question on Sunday by my cousin and I didn't have a great answer for her, what I've put in #4 is slightly better but I need something that's not an ancient text and isn't full of obscure words to tell people in conversation.

Forum needs to be busier too, are you all working or something?

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 26 2013 17:44

Scotch is mist, Whisky is a nippy sweety - I like it!

Scotch mist I've usually heard in the context of 'a mirage', as in - "You no got a kerry oot?" - "Watcha think this is, Scotch mist?". The term for 'sea mist' in parts of Scotty-land is often termed 'the haar'. Montrose can be very spooky once the haar rolls in.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 19:12

Indeed, the haar rolls in off the Firth of Forth in this very direction quite a bit! And I sometimes need a whisky to stave off the cauld it brings with it smile

Theodore, have you got your answer? I come here to engage in a dialectic. It's not supposed to be fire-and-forget.

edit: OK so here is another line of thinking. Auld Bod gets at this too.

Anarcho-Syndicalism is both means and end. We recognise the propensity in humanity for mutual aid and solidarity, and seek to develop it amongst our class - the workers. In order to build the new society we are building networks amongst workers through which we can express our solidarity in the struggle to improve our conditions - this is the means. Over time, solidarity and mutual aid will become sufficiently strong - as a matter of a developed social consciousness - that there well be no need for compulsion. This is the end. In overthrowing the forces of compulsion we will also cast aside all the meaningless work we spend so much time doing. So we will have the freedom and free time to fully develop ourselves as human beings. This is the reward. If there are people who are somehow not currently engaged in human social life, we see this as a symptom of broken social relations and expect this to change through our revolutionary process.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Nov 26 2013 19:21

Get rid of bum on the plush and the other will dissapear.

Tyrion's picture
Tyrion
Offline
Joined: 12-04-13
Nov 26 2013 19:34
TheodoreJ wrote:
When I was growing up people told me communism never works because people are inherently lazy. As in they don't want to work thus necessary things like food and clothing would not be produced.

This is really ludicrous, completely divorced from reality. Would the people who say this rather starve or die from exposure than construct food and clothing? Presumably not, so why would they assume that the rest of humanity is the opposite? How could the human species have even survived for thousands of year if there was even an inkling of truth to this? Wouldn't early humans have quickly all starved if they apparently preferred to be "lazy" (whatever that means) than to do what's necessary to live? Do you or anyone you know feel its desirable to lie on the ground all day, naked and starving, because you're so drawn to being "lazy"?

For that matter, if people are inherently "lazy" to the point where they'd rather die than engage in producing the necessary goods of life, why does anyone in our current society even bother to engage in wage-labor and acquire money with which to buy such goods? Why not just be penniless, "lazy", starving, and freezing?

This sounds like a typical appeal to "human nature" which really isn't an argument based on anything empirical or logical, but rather an assertion that may sound more sophisticated than but is just as superficial as "Communism doesn't 'work' because I say so."

It's total nonsense, frankly.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 19:47

pennoid I don't think my cousin would be fully persuaded by that grin

tyrion my cousin - who is a decent person, and a decent worker at that albeit retired - seemed to think that there must be a gene for laziness. I expressed my scepticism. There was a friend of hers who made some comment about "some people are nice but it decent mean they're good workers" (this is talking about the architect who's supposed to be drawing up and planning some minor alterations in her house, and has basically done nothing although she's taken money twice, cos her (the architect's) toilet needed fixed!

My cousin, my cousin... she was a CPN, community psychiatric nurse and she was basically saying some of the people she worked with were chancers. I wanted to point out that they are probably people with problems but I didn't quite know how to say that. Without adding "you fucking idiot" on the end.

edit: also tyrion I think the implication is not that they would rather die but they would rather "freeload".

I got this shit from my other cousin who works with homeless people for the council. Maybe it's something about my cousins.

I agree it's nonsense but I need some pithy one-liners to shut them up grin

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Nov 26 2013 19:50
Quote:
Scots are people, Scotch is a nippy sweety.

Yeah, lazy people!

Re the OP:

I occasionally get this response as well. I always just say we should judge a society on how little we work, talk about the ability to divide "undesirable" labor or alternatively, require those who do undesirable to work less hours in a week. Then, of course, launch into just how unproductive capitalism is and how much "work" is total bullsh*t and wouldn't exist in a rational society.

This pamphlet is great for elaborating on that final point:

http://libcom.org/library/inefficiency-capitalism-brian-oliver-sheppard

I also heard, I think it was David Graeber, say that, alright, we except some people won't work as hard as others. So what? We build an entire economic system around the small minority of people who will shirk work?

I think that's a pretty good response.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 19:58

I'm going to order a fancy printer and start printing off pamphlets like this. I guess I need to speak to my SolFed colleagues about that.

boozemonarchy's picture
boozemonarchy
Offline
Joined: 28-12-06
Nov 26 2013 20:04

"inherently lazy"

I typically focus in on this fallacy TJ.

Are perfectly capable people seriously going to sit about in their own filth and starve because no social system is forcing them into mind numbing slavery?

This line of thinking is
Total. Fucking. Insanity.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 20:28

no no no "freeloaders" is what needs addressed, not "starvers"!

but yeah I like what Chilli has said.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Nov 26 2013 21:23

I thought communism = getting rid of the lazy people, the bosses.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 21:31

True, true, they even employ workers to manage their capital. But it's risk, man, they're risking everything wink

Plus they're very clever.

cresspot's picture
cresspot
Offline
Joined: 8-09-13
Nov 26 2013 21:33

The general strike is all about mass laziness. Take to the streets, and bring out a sofacouch and... put down the sickle

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Nov 26 2013 21:35

Challenge your cousin's assumptions with some good 'ol fashioned questions.

"Who built that bridge you cross to get to your job where apparently you call homeless people lazy? Oh yeah, the same homeless people, before the developers who built your condo drove them out of the part of town they grew up in."

"Do you like the rubber in your eraser on the pencil you use to fill out forms for your government job? Good thing that homeless dude was drafted into Vietnam, suffered intense psychological and physical trauma to try and protect rubber interests, or else that pencil might have cost more to compensate the stocks decline in value!"

Not sure if these are pithy. Very sure that they aren't one-liners.

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Nov 26 2013 21:49

To be serious for once in my life, it is an interesting phenomenon and speaks to the hegemony of boss-culture. When one worker doesn't show up for a shift that was scheduled outside their availability for instance, most of my co-workers' initial response is to blame them.

"Well they should've seen the schedule, it was put out a week ago."

I think part of it is a concrete awareness of how power is arranged. Even when I'd make the case that it was the manager's *responsibility* to make the schedule and know employees' availability, and therefore the manager's *fault* that this employee was absent, they'd agree, with the ever-present caveat "Yeah, but what are you gonna do? He should have known."

It's as if they're responding to some natural material force, rather than the actions of a human (the boss). It's something that comes up in organizing a lot, and so having something like a ready response is important.

My go-to response is usually to just question the assmption: Are people really inherently lazy? Are black people mired in a culture of poverty? Are all men fast, all women whiney, and all gay men "catty"? etc. Or "What do you mean by that?"

Because I know that what I want is to reinvigorate a conciousness of what is actually possible for workers to get done together. The response to the situation should be "Alright kids, time to walk off the floor and demand to speak with management. Who wants to be what role?"

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 22:00
Pennoid wrote:
To be serious for once in my life, it is an interesting phenomenon and speaks to the hegemony of boss-culture. When one worker doesn't show up for a shift that was scheduled outside their availability for instance, most of my co-workers' initial response is to blame them.

"Well they should've seen the schedule, it was put out a week ago."

I think part of it is a concrete awareness of how power is arranged. Even when I'd make the case that it was the manager's *responsibility* to make the schedule and know employees' availability, and therefore the manager's *fault* that this employee was absent, they'd agree, with the ever-present caveat "Yeah, but what are you gonna do? He should have known."

It's as if they're responding to some natural material force, rather than the actions of a human (the boss). It's something that comes up in organizing a lot, and so having something like a ready response is important.

Yeah I have seen this sort of thing in my work a lot. Although it's often done in a humorous way which seems to tacitly recognise that the "responsible" workers aren't all that serious about their criticisms of the ones that missed their shift. It's sometimes even a sort of good-natured ribaldry that is more about having a laugh at work rather than seriously criticising other workers.

Quote:
My go-to response is usually to just question the assmption: Are people really inherently lazy? Are black people mired in a culture of poverty? Are all men fast, all women whiney, and all gay men "catty"? etc. Or "What do you mean by that?"

Yes it's good to do that, but the criticisms I'm hearing are not so much about entire groups of people but the "welfare queens", "underclass", "chancers" etc. And I'm in the UK so the culture is a bit different here, when I hear about families dependent on welfare it's not typically aimed at racial groups but just white working class families some of whom, apparently, have traditions of living on "state handouts" that go back generations.

Although, and here's another good riposte - it can't be that many generations seeing as the welfare system has only been in existence for a few decades.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Nov 26 2013 22:13

What's a chancer?

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 26 2013 22:29

Chilli #22
What's a chancer?

Someone who 'chances their arm', a wide boy, a spiv, etc.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 26 2013 22:29

My cousin, the one who works in the housing department of her city council, was talking about a homeless man who had been offered social housing in a certain area of the city and had complained that he didn't want to live there because he knew someone who lived there that he didn't get on with. He asked to be housed somewhere else. She called him a chancer, it's a (UK?) term for someone who is asking for "special treatment". Chancing their luck.

For all I know the homeless man was worried he would be attacked by this other person, I didn't get much more detail on the situation. She was basically just being dismissive of his needs.

AES's picture
AES
Offline
Joined: 15-02-04
Nov 26 2013 22:30

slang used to attack unwaged claimants - some unemployable some not

omen
Offline
Joined: 20-09-12
Nov 26 2013 23:02

Well, I was too lazy to read all of this thread to see if anyone had already mentioned this, and too lazy to type a proper response, but this seems relevant:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dysaesthesia_aethiopica

(Also, too lazy to look for a better source.)

For those too lazy to click the link, I cut and pasted this:

teh wiki wrote:
In psychiatry, dysaesthesia aethiopica was an alleged mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851, which proposed a theory for the cause of laziness among slaves.

Coincidentally, it turns out that the cure for this debilitating illness is lots or hard work without pay (I'm not kidding).

Pennoid's picture
Pennoid
Offline
Joined: 18-02-12
Nov 27 2013 00:01

Speaking of the shittyness of psychology, I was in my Latin American Civ class the other day, in discussion, and we were talking about radical Marxist Guerillas in the 50's-70's (I know, this is all vague and poorly set up, but an accurate representation of their presentation in class, so, if you're inclined to rage, I don't lame you).

One of the primary source documents we were set to discuss was by women revolutionaries about the role of motherhood in fighitng against military dictatorship and economic imperialism. Now I know we're all pretty averse to the Maoist/Leninist influence that a lot of this had at the time, we should also allow that it was a distinct enough phenomenon to warrant investigation and evaluation of facts. In anycase, in decrying the contradictions of trying to raise kids while also carrying out guerilla warfare in urban and rural conditions ins South America, the author discussed methods of having groups of revolutionaries care for children as their own, and posed this as a negation of capitalist-patriarchical familial relations. The author apparently came off as "coo-coo" to many students and one Psych-major spoke of the "need children have to cling and connect to ONE person and PLACE to grow and DEVELOP stably in society."

I face-palmed hard. When will psychological pseudo-science die? I suggested that it wasn't much different to shipping your kids off to dungeon-like public schools while you work in a factory, or as a nurse for 40 hours a week.

There was also the suggestion that they were responsible for their kids being in danger, rather than the thugs that were targetting their children. Weird kind of logic, all of this.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 27 2013 17:08

Just a few comments on some of the above posts:

I would not dismiss all psychology as crap. Much of it is useful, from designing books to make them easier to read, to the insight that positive reinforcement in education is more successful that negativity or punishment (writing as someone who was regularly belted by teachers at school).

A ‘chancer’ used to be described as someone who liked to ‘sail close to the wind’.

‘Freeloaders’ when I’ve met any were mean in a money sense and/or mean in spirit. A libertarian communist society I think would make the first redundant (no money to secret away) and in the second should act as a restorative (surely no one likes being a miserable b**tard) or at least make them less objectionable.

We do not know what humans are capable of and they are full of surprises: this morning on Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ program, there was a piece on an act of mutual aid where a number of ranchers have sent trailers full of steers, free of charge, to devastated ranchers in Northern Montana. This was ‘spontaneous’ generosity from strangers, in an attempt to get them back on their feet economically.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Nov 27 2013 21:27
Quote:
this morning on Radio 4’s ‘Farming Today’ program,

A-B, you are officially my new favorite libcom poster.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Nov 27 2013 21:31

I could have been posting about Woman's Hour and In Our Time for the last two years!

Fucking hell. Three years. I just checked.

Auld-bod's picture
Auld-bod
Offline
Joined: 9-07-11
Nov 27 2013 21:41

Chilli #29

Thanks Chilli. cool

'Farming Today' is often very interesting. They don't think anyone else will be listening at that time.
They were discussing the problem with the 'mad cows' months before anyone else picked up on it.