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October 30, 2011



Brilliantly put. I've hated 'daylight saving time' all my life; I wish more people would work to put a stop to it and simply rearrange business and so forth to fit it, rather than trying to shoehorn humans into this artificial construct.

Luis Enrique

I think they had working hours in the USSR too, you know, I mean, you might be right about GMT, but if you humanity is vulnerable to

Luis Enrique

... Having to turn up to work at 9, that doesn't say very much for your humanity.

The risk with bestowing upon yourself the power to see truths that capitalism has blinded the rest of us to, is the risk of talking cobblers.

Luis Enrique

However, you are right that working hours, indeed the 5 day week format, is needlessly inflexible. I'd put it down to inertia, habit, but perhaps you are right there is some petty control of power involved.

Curt Doolittle

We could all regress into Marx's lamented craftsmen and work whatever hours we wanted. That is, as long as the capitalist disappeared, and instead, we each borrowed, created and owned, our own means of production.

That's what day care providers, accountants, dentists, and other small business people do. :)

Of course, we'd be poor. But maybe we'd rather have comfortable and self determined working hours.


Interesting idea, though I feel you need to flesh it out more. It's not immediately obvious how this is an example of a "capitalist asserting his power over the workers".

The point you are making is fairly nuanced, and a few more examples and more fleshed out reasoning would make this post more credible to doubters.


Instead of changing the clocks, why don’t we adjust our hours of work and schooling instead?
I was asking a friend exactly that question yesterday, as we watched Arsenal climb above Liverpool in the table. His response was that it was more trouble to change all the bus timetables,etc. than to make everyone alter their clocks.

If it was worth the effort I would be in favour of changing the start of the day in line with where the TV guides now have at, at what is currently 6am, so as to avoid the "night of Xth/X+1th October" confusion. 6am would become 12 dawn, and 6pm,12 dusk.


Actually, even winching the country south wouldn't give us more daylight - it would just re-distribute it more evenly during the year.

I've noticed that the 'just get up earlier and go to bed earlier' or 'just adjust your day' arguments are usually made by single men. Those with families are forced to live with the rhythms of their communities whether they like it or not.

Maybe standard timing did coincide with the the rise of the blood-stained capitalist system (or whatever the preferred Marxist term is these days) but it is also a requirement of any large complex society.

Trying to decide locally whether to change school opening times, for example, would be a logistical nightmare and would be bound to piss some parents off.

As a horrid managerialist, I'm all in favour of us having a standard time across the country. It just makes everthing easier.

Personally, I'd rather we stuck with BST and kept the middle of our day at 1pm all the year round.


"Working hours are not chosen for the convenience and safety of employees."

Also see the once very famous E.P. Thompson article from 1967, "Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism"



Great post, very thought provoking even if Mr. Enrique does not think so. A Marxist friend of mine maintains that the Industrial revolution started in the UK as the Whig liberal state was powerful and oppressive enough to force Women and Children to work. And eventually men too according to the boss classes interests. Only conscripting Labour power could make the factory system and primitive accumulation effective. Every where else there was too much liberty for a Capitalist revolution.


DST makes sense on its own terms. It's meant to make sure that dawn always occurs at approximately the same time, say 5 AM to 7 AM, instead of fixing the solar noon at 12 AM. The former is obviously more useful for coordinating the working day. Yes, you could adjust working hours, but that would be hard to coordinate across so many actors and stakeholders.

Also, keep in mind that whenever you switch the clocks is when you feel all the costs of DST and none of the benefits (dawn is suddenly switched from being "too late" to being "too early", or the converse). The effectiveness of DST should be judged throughout the year.


Another point of interest is that the coming winter months are the ones that reflect true day times. The sun will hit its relative zenith at 1200. The rest of the year the sun peaks at 1300. So it is quite curious that during winter people perceive the clocks as shifting to accommodate the few up north when it fact you can objectively argue that all the clocks are doing is reverting to normalcy. It's the rest of the year when we in the UK are pampered. Or maybe shifted to get more in synch with mainland Europe.


"The only way to increase hours of daylight is to winch the country southwards."

That would be my preferred option...

Post here making a similar point to yourself - and also noting that the current arrangement is as a result of a wartime measure, supposedly to save coal... http://bit.ly/vpqNS2


Droog, true enough but for most people, 13.00 is now closer to the middle of their day so, if we're going to stick to one time, it makes more sense for it to be BST than GMT.


Fascinating. I thought shifting the hours had something to do with saving electricity during summer. Longer daylight=less pressure on the elctric grid or something. i remember when the current Iranian president came to power, he outlawed Daylight saving time, saying it was a fancy useless Western construct. Cue shock horror outcry from liberals and moderns, tons of arguments showing how much electricity it saved during summer etc etc etc. I mean, if western countries did it, then there must be obviously a good reason for it etc etc etc


Thenewcomer, DST does save electricity during the summer, but that's because it uses daylight more fully, i.e. folks don't sleep through early morning daylight, as they would if they kept the same hours relative to the solar noon.

The proposal of a separate GMT time zone for Scotland is interesting for that reason. From a purely physical POV, Scotland, being farther from the tropics, would benefit from shifting the clock two hours forward during the spring season (and conversely in autumn). They would use even more of their daylight around summer, although the early morning would be rather dark throughout the year.


This has more to do with idiocy than capitalism. When BST was initially introduced in WW1, the loudest opponents were self-employed farmers. The NFU still say they would have to consult members, despite representing the group least likely to be affected either way.

Farmers, of course, really do control their own working hours and can set them by the sun and not a clock. They don't even have to co-ordinate with neighbours.

Luis Enrique

I really don't get this ... If, and I think this is reasonable, non-capitalist societies would also have schools which children attend for fixed hours of the day, then how can you say school hours exist in order to inculcate them wi the discipline of capitalist production? Unless set working hours etc. are a feature of capitalist societies but not, say, socialist ones, the argument falls apart.

Do you believe that worker-owned worker-democracy run firms would having people just rocking up to work whenever they feel like it? That may work for some jobs, but not many


>>>In the lighter south, the school day could start at eight and finish at three. In the darker north, it could start at ten and finish at five.

I'd just like to add to this debate the mostly unremarked point that this is a problem for Scotland mostly because of its westerliness not its northerliness. Yes Scotland is in the north and so has fewer winter hours of daylight to play with, but it is also well to the west of Greenwich (Edinburgh being west of Liverpool too, of course), and so the sun rises later from that factor also.

What do folks do in Galway or Donegal do on winter mornings operating on GMT?


Pulleeeze, this has nothing to do with efficiency but with a perennial opportunity for minor politicos to blether on in the minor media. A well-worn game. Publicity, nothing else, for there is no on-size-fits-all answer.

As for capitalists exerting power by setting the working day. We are well past that with well-lit call-centres for those lucky enough to have a job. Capitalist power has moved up a notch, Cameron and his lackies now have to make their 'factory' (UK plc) look shiny and efficient or the Capitalists go elsewhere and leave Cameron et al with a big debt to fund. That is the big change since Marx's day.


It has to be recalled that standard time is very recent historically. The railways are usually regarded as the origin of uniform time zones. To allow long distance transportation. Before the Railway time table the idea of a common time is without meaning. At a minimum it is worth being clear that all of these standards are ultimately arbitrary human rules. There is no reason why we must accept one of many possible social decisions about time rather than the other ones we could follow instead. Just as Monetary or fiscal policy are choices ultimately not any thing imposed by Laws of Nature. Which is the real point Chris is trying to get across. Don't be a prisoner to man made limitations on our social or personal freedom.


Simon Jenkins wrote a similar article in the Guardian last week

Of course businesses DO independently vary their hours to suit their own needs, which may/may not include daylight as a factor.

- in banks traders start at 7am and go home at 4, but M&A bankers, and their lawyers work 10-midnight

- while farmers, gardeners and roofers in winter ignore the clocks and start when it's light and finish when it's dark

- salesmen that sell to Europe start at 8 and finish at 4, those selling to the US work afternoons.

- high street shops in touristy locations notice when the crowds visit and open at 11am in the winter, and 10am in the summer (this is realted to tempeature as well as daylight)

So all this is common place.

It's governments and public sectors that open rigidly from X to Y.


My school in Orkney had a shorter timetable throughout the winter- we still arrived and departed school in the dark in the depths of winter, but the school saved a couple of hours' energy per week.


Keith: "It has to be recalled that standard time is very recent historically."

True but standard time has been part of the makeup for most of the post-industrial revolution era.

If daylight saving time is a burden for farmers, why not provide cattle with alarm clocks that lie about the time?

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