The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In 1932, at age 60, my exact age as I write this post, Bertrand Russell penned a provocative essay, “In Praise of Idleness.”Russell begins, … I was brought up on the saying: ‘Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.’ Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and capacity. I do not think the fact that these people are allowed to be idle is nearly so harmful as the fact that wage-earners are expected to overwork or starve. The wise use of leisure, it must be conceded, is a product of civilization and education. If the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day, there would be enough for everybody and no unemployment -- assuming a certain very moderate amount of sensible organization. If he invests his savings, the matter is less obvious, and different cases arise. The class might produce one Darwin, but against him had to be set tens of thousands of country gentlemen who never thought of anything more intelligent than fox-hunting and punishing poachers. In Russia, owing to economic justice and central control over production, the problem will have to be differently solved. Unlimited access to over18 million full-text articles. Whenever a person who already has enough to live on proposes to engage in some everyday kind of job, such as school-teaching or typing, he or she is told that such conduct takes the bread out of other people’s mouths, and is, therefore, wicked. They consider work, as it should be considered, a necessary means to a livelihood, and it is from their leisure that they derive whatever happiness they may enjoy. We have been misled in this matter by two causes. No wonder the result has been disastrous. Want to change your email address or password? The individual, in our society, works for profit; but the social purpose of his work lies in the consumption of what he produces. Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. Broadly speaking, it is held that getting money is good and spending money is bad. If he merely puts his savings in a stocking, like the proverbial French peasant, it is obvious that they do not give employment. VI Scylla and Charybdis; or, communism and fascism. That means that a large amount of human labor, which might have been devoted to producing something that could be enjoyed, was expended on producing machines which, when produced, lay idle and did no good to anyone. At that time all the men in the armed forces, and all the men and women engaged in the production of munitions, all the men and women engaged in spying, war propaganda, or Government offices connected with the war, were withdrawn from productive occupations. One is the necessity of keeping the poor contented, which has led the rich, for thousands of years, to preach the dignity of labor, while taking care themselves to remain undignified in this respect. I In praise of idleness (1932) II "Useless" knowledge III Architecture and social questions IV The modern Midas V The ancestry of fascism VI Scylla and Charybdis; or, communism and fascism VII The case for socialism VIII Western civilization IX On youthful cynicism (1929) X Modern homogeneity (1930) XI Men versus insects (1933) Without the leisure class, mankind would never have emerged from barbarism. Select data courtesy of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Oddly enough, while they wish their sons to work so hard as to have no time to be civilized, they do not mind their wives and daughters having no work at all. In 2004, the book was published by Routledge, with a new introduction by the historian Anthony Gottlieb. Submitting a report will send us an email through our customer support system. Let us take an illustration. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. This text was first provided by the Massachusetts Green Party. Academic institutions, therefore, useful as they are, are not adequate guardians of the interests of civilization in a world where everyone outside their walls is too busy for unutilitarian pursuits. In addition to unemployment and political instability, some other push factors are the absence of research facilities, employment discrimination, economic underdevelopment, lack of freedom, and poor working conditions. I In praise of idleness (1932) II "Useless" knowledge III Architecture and social questions IV The modern Midas V The ancestry of fascism VI Scylla and Charybdis; or, communism and fascism VII The case for socialism VIII Western civilization IX On youthful cynicism (1929) X Modern homogeneity (1930) XI Men versus insects (1933) In this way it is insured that the unavoidable leisure shall cause misery all round instead of being a universal source of happiness. A man who has worked long hours all his life will become bored if he becomes suddenly idle. Of course he may provide services rather than commodities, like a medical man, for example; but he should provide something in return for his board and lodging. In spite of this, the general level of physical well-being among wage-earners on the side of the Allies was higher than before or since. It might produce one Darwin, but against him had to be set tens of thousands of country gentlemen who never thought of anything more intelligent than fox-hunting and punishing poachers. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. We think too much of production, and too little of consumption. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.8M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. They make as many pins as the world needs, working (say) eight hours a day. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it on drink or gambling. Other essays treat about sociology, philosophy and economy and also technical architectural problems are discussed in a social frame proposing solutions. In view of the fact that the bulk of the expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payments for past wars and preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. After reading the essay, I feel like a more appropriate title would have been In Praise of Wise Leisure . (According to Facts to Help Parents Identify the Pros and Cons of Year-Round School) Also Many schools already struggle to pay teachers a competitive wage, making it hard to keep high quality teachers. In Praise of Idleness By Bertrand Russell it remained in full force throughout the Napoleonic wars, and until a hundred years ago, when the new class of manufacturers acquired power. One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. Enjoy affordable access to Owing to the absence of any central control over production, we produce hosts of things that are not wanted. University life is so different from life in the world at large that men who live in an academic milieu tend to be unaware of the pre-occupations of ordinary men and women; moreover, their ways of expressing themselves are usually such as to rob their opinions of the influence that they ought to have upon the general public. At last the feminists decided that they would have both, since the pioneers among them believed all that the men had told them about the desirability of virtue but not what they had told them about the worthlessness of political power. Serious-minded persons, for example, are continually condemning the habit of going to the cinema, and telling us that it leads the young into crime. The victory of the proletariat in Russia has some points in common with the victory of the feminists in some other countries.
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