Activists have long suggested that oppressive institutions should be abolished rather than reformed. The same could be said about labor.
Yes! Magazine, August 16, 2022
What if we abolished the institution of work?
If we were not required to work to pay for basic rights, such as food, shelter, and water, could we embrace radical solutions to change the current state of our society?
As the post-pandemic struggle about work and working conditions rages on, workers are quitting jobs that make them miserable, while unions seek recognition and avenues for negotiations, all within our current capitalistic system that declares each individual’s worth to be inherently tied to their productivity. But what if society was not organized around wage labor, but something else? And what would that something else be?
Millions of workers left jobs in 2021 at such a scale it’s been deemed the “Great Resignation.” Recent attempts to understand their dissatisfaction have explored what the “future of work” looks like and how work overall could become more bearable. How about a four-day work week? Or higher pay? Better working conditions? Flexible hours? But 32-hour weeks (or whatever good policy is on offer) are adaptations to a dehumanizing system—they don’t address that system as a whole, nor do they get to the core of the workers’ discontent with the inhumane machinations of capitalism.