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November 05, 2014


Igor Belanov

I think Allan W's scheme could work in practice, but only in some form of state socialist system like the DDR, where the state creates jobs for everyone and subsidises over-manning. This is fine if you believe that any form of work boosts an individual's morale, discipline and sense of well-being, and that work in an abstract sense is the essence of citizenship, but obviously has its downsides, and not just in an economic sense.

The problems for me are that, firstly, I do not believe in the merits of labour as a value in itself unless it is autonomous and self-directed for the individuals own ends. Secondly, the idea of the 'dignity of labour' is heavily reduced in state socialism by the fact that it is still something to be endured and can appear to be a rather unappreciated gift. Thus self-motivation and participation are limited. In job guarantee schemes people are highly unlikely to be given a free choice in the type of work they do, and may not even consider any skills or training they are given to be useful to them personally.

I prefer a different utopia.

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