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    I love the high level goal of that essay: less work. But I never find a practical example of a surviving culture that has implemented this non work lifestyle sustainable. And if I am projecting too much please correct me, but I feel it strange Black wants less obligated work, yet also less mechanical automation (and the infrastructure to build and maintain it) that allows the freedom that type of non-work lifestyle would require. Tangentially basic income is a interesting topic and I’m looking forward to more countries trying it out. From a game theory perspective, I would hypothesise a group of people who collectively produce more (forced or voluntary) will always overtake a less productive (and I don’t mean that as an insult) group of people. Either economically, like gentrification in neighborhood, or violently through for access to resources, like Africa.

    The carrot is just the stick by other means.

    Does the he really believe this? In an extreme example, there is a clear difference between a forced labor camp and wanting something seen in an ad. Getting kicked out of your home for not paying rent is a stick, but wanting a new car and McMansion is definitely a carrot.

    Even if you aren’t killed or crippled while actually working, you very well might be while going to work, coming from work, looking for work, or trying to forget about work.

    This is about safety and not work. In this modern no individual motivated person can build any machinery close to what the output of concerted “work” can perform. X-Ray machine to see where a tumor is? Nope. Mass transit? Nope. GPS? Nope. Calculator? Nope. Tractor to till soil? Nope. But perhaps that “machine” is not something wanted in this non-work world? But who will do the jobs no one wants to do?

    In fact, work is mass murder or genocide.

    Really? Maybe this is a joke that I’m taking too seriously.

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      Like you, I agree with Bob Black’s general objective (less work and especially less of the utterly-fucking-pointless work that exists only to maintain power for the privileged) but I disagree with his specific (and, in my view, extreme) position. I think he’s wrong on a few things.

      For one, he attacks the nuclear family. Lefties love to argue that monogamy is bad because it’s unnatural (and, in mammals, it is rare) when the reality is that monogamy is the bedrock of civilization. Establishing it reduces the stakes of male social status to a point where men could stop killing each other (in pre-monogamous societies, 30 to 50 percent of men died in conflicts with other men) so much and stop raping women so much and build a more progressive style of civilization. Human psychology is arguably, to some extent, the legacy of an arms race between the r-selective sex drive (the id or devil) and the K-selective sex drive (superego or angel) and it’s a good thing that the latter won. Likewise, on the monogamy topic, I always find it ridiculous when feminists attack monogamy. Now, the first monogamists were not feminist by modern standards, but monogamy was literally the first step toward feminism (if even high-status men can only have one wife instead of sixty, they’re more likely to treat their wives better) and when it falls you have the dominance of alpha male brutes… and this is why the seemingly innocuous casual sex culture of a college campus invariably falls into rape culture.

      I can’t be an anarchist for the same reason that I can’t subscribe to literal theism (i.e. belief in an anthropomorphic, interventionist being). Some ideas just don’t hold up. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth discussing, because there might be merit in them. For example, even though I believe that monogamous romantic relationships and nuclear families are good things, the concepts should be challenged. We can agree that the anarchic polygyny of the kind that consigned pre-monogamous societies to constant in-fighting and war (and that is re-emerging in college and young-professional casual sex cultures) is bad. Is monogamy right for everyone? Possibly not. Are heterosexual relationships right for everyone? Obviously, no, and it’s shameful that until recently people in homosexual relationships didn’t have the same rights as the rest of us who are heterosexual. Would it be better for children to be raised by a community (as in some Israeli kibbutzim) rather than parents going it alone? Quite possibly, yes.

      The reason I bring up monogamy and its importance to social stability is to puncture a hole in anarchy. Sexual anarchy (on college campuses, thanks to an overreaction to mid-20th century social conservatism) leads to Elliott Rodgers (not to excuse that twisted fuck) and is just one data point showing that anarchy doesn’t work. I don’t know what “human nature” is, and I don’t think any of us do, but the idea that it’s inherently good and corrupted by society does not hold up. I may be unusual among leftists in my distrust for it (hence, my increasing social conservatism with age).

      Structure is actually a good thing. It’s necessary. If people don’t have structure in their work and life, they’ll create it. The problem is when structure is retained for bad reasons– usually, because it delivers power to people who do not deserve to have it but will not relinquish it.

      From a game theory perspective, I would hypothesise a group of people who collectively produce more (forced or voluntary) will always overtake a less productive (and I don’t mean that as an insult) group of people.

      Yes. This is correct. Agricultural people eventually won out over hunter-gatherers, because agriculture can support more people. (Of course, agriculture was a gradual transition over thousands of years and most peoples participated in both strategies of food sourcing.) The quality of the food was initially much lower– you ate meat and berries when you could get them, and grains (then less desirable than now) when you had to– but much more of it could be produced. Agricultural people lived shorter lives and had worse health than hunter-gatherers but the land could support about 10 times more of them.

      The carrot is just the stick by other means.

      Does the he really believe this? In an extreme example, there is a clear difference between a forced labor camp and wanting something seen in an ad. Getting kicked out of your home for not paying rent is a stick, but wanting a new car and McMansion is definitely a carrot.

      I assumed that his reference to the carrot pertained to necessities like food, healthcare, and shelter, as well as continuing access to the resources (e.g. transportation, internet) needed to participate in economic life at all. So, the ability to pay rent would be a case of the carrot as “the stick by other means”. Bob Black isn’t (as I read him) talking about the 5 percent who could have comfortable lives but who torture themselves on the corporate ladder because they want bigger houses (he might argue that they are psychologically enslaved, but I would argue that this enslavement would persist even if the need to work were abolished) but about the 94 percent who have no choice but to tow the line.

      This is about safety and not work. In this modern no individual motivated person can build any machinery close to what the output of concerted “work” can perform. X-Ray machine to see where a tumor is? Nope. Mass transit? Nope. GPS? Nope. Calculator? Nope. Tractor to till soil? Nope. But perhaps that “machine” is not something wanted in this non-work world? But who will do the jobs no one wants to do?

      I agree with you that full-scale work abolition is impossible. Society needs someone who commits to driving the bus every day. It should pay that person well and give that job dignity, but the role needs to exist. Are the vast majority of workers being maltreated for no good reason, when they might get more respect if work were voluntary? I would argue that the answer is “Yes”. The modern workplace is designed to intimidate people into working (on the assumption that they will slack if not surveilled and intimidated) because of a defect in either human nature or human social behavior that leads to psychopaths ending up in charge. If we can fix that problem, we should. I don’t, however, think that we can actually have a functioning society if we abolish all work structures.

      In fact, work is mass murder or genocide.

      Really? Maybe this is a joke that I’m taking too seriously.

      I don’t think that he’s joking. I think his argument is that the modern normalization of semi-coercive wage labor (and the heavy investment in the infrastructure to support such labor) has such a negative impact on peoples' lives, including their health, that it represents a non-trivial loss of life. I would agree. Late-stage capitalism is held up in part because of a health insurance system in which people die painfully of preventable conditions– before Obama took office, it was 45,000 per year, or a 9/11 every 24 days– if they aren’t plugged in to the labor market and insured. That said, his use of the word “genocide” is inappropriate insofar as genocide is the intentional murder of a specific ethnic or religious group, and clearly doesn’t apply (no matter how bad we agree it to be) to late-stage capitalism’s system of semi-coercive wage labor which, even in spite of its ruthlessness and its willingness to use racism and sexism (say, to encourage people to vote against their economic interests), is not notably racist of its own accord.

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          Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects illegitimate hierarchies.[1] It originally meant leaderlessness, but in 1840, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon adopted the term in his treatise What Is Property? to refer to a new political philosophy, anarchism, which advocates stateless societies based on voluntary associations.

          Anarchy can be defined as a stateless society based on voluntary associations.

          Who defines “illegitimate”? I ask this rhetorically because at the end of the day, states have weapons because no one respects imaginary borders on the ground (country borders or property lines) are unless there is the threat of violence to support it.

          Anarchy can be defined as a stateless society based on voluntary associations.

          And what if those voluntary associations asks for a “state”? The oldest example I can think of is the Hebrews asking the Prophet Samuel for a King.

          I think anarchism became marginalized largely because centralization destroyed anarchism by force and replaced it with government, not because anarchism collapsed due to its fundamental flaws.

          But not being self sufficient seems like a pretty huge flaw to me. Of course, all things being equal a larger and more coordinated groups will always have the ability to overpower smaller less coordinated groups. It’s a borderline tautology. Even looking at nature the most technically advanced (meaning building shelter, communicating, and domesticating other species) species are monarchies (ants, termites, and bees).

          Actually, anarchy didn’t just disappear. It co-exists with governments.

          I agree, I think a peaceful anarchy can only exist by the good graces of a host nation state that has a monopoly on violence (police and military). Otherwise it quickly turns into survival of the fittest. If I were to take an example of my anarchist friends, they would not be the ones surviving that type of environment (to be fair neither would I).

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          Human psychology is arguably, to some extent, the legacy of an arms race between the r-selective sex drive (the id or devil) and the K-selective sex drive (superego or angel) and it’s a good thing that the latter won.

          “The theory was popular in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was used as a heuristic device, but lost importance in the early 1990s, when it was criticized by several empirical studies.”

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R/K_selection_theory

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          I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Black. I think he makes an interesting point and that his ideas are worth discussing.

          The problem surrounding involuntary work is that it’s hard to come up with a definition of “involuntary”. Rich libertarians who think that “poor” means living off $50,000 per year of interest, instead of building up principal, will argue that work relationships in the office setting are “voluntary” insofar as they can be terminated at any time. Of course, the reality of modern society makes a mockery of that claim, since most people have few real alternatives to working under the conditions that are available to them.