Book review: The mythology of Work
How Capitalism Persists Despite Itself
Peter Fleming, Pluto Press, 2015
The theme of this book is a condemnation of the late Capitalist, Neo-Liberal take-over of the workers’ whole life, with the ending of fixed hours of work, facilitated by the development of computers and mobile phones.
He is aware of the many contradictions within ‘Shareholder Capitalism’, making financial profitabillity take precedence over everything else, and driving ever-harder on employees, while reducing ‘job oportunities’ and increasing the levels of ‘unemployment’.
He notes the increasing levels of state support and subsidy of corporations, at the expense of the workers – increasing the levels of taxation and repression for the poor, to subsidise the rich!
The Capitalist Class is fearful of the prospect of leisure for workers – what would they get up to? – so an ideology has been promoted extolling ‘work’, even as developments render it increasingly redundant.
The ropaganda in favour of the work ethic is so successful that work-related suicides are growing in frequency.
He eamines extensively the contradictions and ‘false truths’ concerning corporations’ claims and actions and the fact that ‘leaders’ in society – CEOs, judges, bankers, politicians, etc. – are predominantly from rich families and top private schools and universities, but does not look at the evidence of widespread psychopathy among such people, which goes far in explaining the disastrous direction of evolution among human societies.
He quotes extensively from other authors; his list of references occupies 8 pages. He concludes that only a radical break from the current capitalism can give any hope for a better future. This leads to his 6 recommendations, the first of which is for ‘a surpus living wage’ – payment to all of ‘at least an average of £30 000 irrespective of what they do’ and a maximum income of £95 000 a year. This appears to be his own idea, as he quotes no others on this. He seems not to be familiar with the demands, going back over a century, for Basic Incomes, a core policy of our Green Party from its start, as well as other proposals for limiting the ratio of income between the richest and poorest, within a firm or within society.
He also wants a more direct form of participatory democracy; transfer of all monopolistic and oligopolistic enterprises into public hands, under the dirct control of the users; a three-day work-week; ‘demassifying society’ – slowing down and appreciating leisure; and finally, ‘demonetising incentive structures’.
His concern throughout is with the psychology of the promoted work-ethic, and its promotion by the ‘1%’. He notes that ‘this is not the place to develope an alternative model of money’. He is apparently unaware of the fast-growing campaigns between the two World Wars, and now again fast-growing, both to introduce Basic Incomes and to end the debt-and-profit-creating ‘fractional reserve’ method of money-creation by the private banks.
A well-argued case against capitalism, especially in its current form, and against the false ‘work ethic’, which still goes unchallenged by so many campaigners for change. Hope he will now look further into the fundamental role of ‘the Money Masters’ in the destruction of our human society.