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December 21, 2016

Comments

Aaron Headly

A good manager I knew was once asked what he did all day. "Well, if I'm doing my job right, pretty much nothing" was his answer.

Luis Enrique

this is only second-hand information, but the celebration of busyness is very Japanese. I think they have a special word for doing a funny walk-run on the way to the photocopier to make it look like you're super busy. They suffer from terrible presenteeism, and it's totally acceptable to fall asleep in meetings because it's a signal of how terrifically busy you are. A friend of mine was once in a meeting where everybody there except her fell asleep.

Richard

Have a good holiday, don't work too hard!

ejh

"Personally, I believe the opposite. If a man still needs to work hard after an Oxbridge education and thirty years of house price inflation, there's something wrong with him."

Funnily enough I finished my Oxford exams thirty years ago last summer. Alas no sign yet of an end to the grind.

Jim

"If a man still needs to work hard after an Oxbridge education and thirty years of house price inflation, there's something wrong with him"

Thats nice for those with an Oxbridge education, what about the other 99%?

James

I wonder how much of this is due to coming through a period of relatively high unemployment. Previously most people not engaged in work were not engaged through choice - the retired, those studying etc.. Now work is seen less as a grind and more of a privilege.

As someone who has spent time unemployed I can sympathise with those who envy people who are working hard.

Eminent emigrant

(Obligatory "I'm not a racist but...")
This may be a terrible caricature, but your description of pre-industrial man sounds very... African.

Parus major

Which 'Christian moralists' assisted capitalism? G. K. Chesterton for one certainly didn't, railing furiously and consistently against the treament of workers under the contemporary sweating regimes. *Social* historians, who are mostly Marxist-leaning, and therefore likely to suffer an anti-Christian bias, are not to be trusted entirely when it comes to the business of social summaries, I feel.

In fact I can see nothing in orthodox Christianity that would allow anyone to support or oppose any particular political or economic system per se*. Christians should derive their social positions from dogmas about the real nature of man (which would mean that capitalists are prone to sin like everyone else, something which escaped Mrs Thatcher when it came to the Gospels, in her famous attempt to co-opt Christianity for the 'free' market). If certain moralists justified capitalist practices, they certainly weren't doing it *as Christians*, even though they technically might have been considered Christian by others.

*As Chesterton pointed out, all economic systems employ 'capital'. He thought contemporary capitalism should have rather been called 'Proletarianism' in view of the concentration of wealth and property in the hands of a diminishing few. Hardly a 'right-wing' position is it?

Peter K.

Happy Holidays. I've enjoyed your blogging all year.

From Arse To Elbow

@Parus major,

Chesterton wasn't a Christian, he was a Catholic (and a famous lover of paradoxes). I would echo Chris's pointer to the title of Weber's famous work. The belief that capitalism instrinsically serves the "work of God" comes from Protestantism. Catholic doctrine tends more towards corporatism - the integration of capitalism within a "natural order" - which in turn reflects history: Protestantism as a disruptive force and post-Reformation Catholicism as a conservative one

GregvP

@Eminent emigrant: No, not African. Human.

You're not paying attention. Look around you. If you're in an office (and not a call centre or the like), you'll see people working intermittently and goofing off-er, looking up something on the internet-for half the time. And meetings. Most meetings are just social grooming and cultural conditioning, contributing nothing to the bottom line.

If you're involved in childcare, you'll see the same patterns. And in finance. And the medical industry. And real estate. And the same is true for most other industries.

@Parus: Chesterton is irrelevant, having been born at least two hundred years too late. Think of the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Puritans-- especially the last. We still call the attitude described by Russell in Chris's quote Puritanical.

Jim

"If you're in an office (and not a call centre or the like), you'll see people working intermittently and goofing off-er, looking up something on the internet-for half the time. And meetings. Most meetings are just social grooming and cultural conditioning, contributing nothing to the bottom line."

Try looking at people with proper work to do, involving actual stuff. Houses don't build themselves while you 'goof off' on the internet, nor do cabbages get picked or cars get assembled.

Bob

"a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work"

OK. But we still need quality leisure time. What do you suggest people do with their day? That is as much of a problem as bad work and downsides of work.

Matthew

Having recently gone from employment to self employment I have realised how much of the stuff I did when office based was makework bullshit. Now I am self employed (and earning much the same as I did before) I perform tasks that need doing and then stop. Sometimes I work harder than I did before , but mostly substantially less.

Innocent Abroad

"If a man still needs to work hard after an Oxbridge education and thirty years of house price inflation, there's something wrong with him"

Or a divorce or three...

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