Notes on Andre Gorz's "Critique of Economic Reason"
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Notes on Andre Gorz's "Critique of Economic Reason"

Notes on Andre Gorz's "Critique of Economic Reason"
  1. Labour-saving technology is now able to replace much of the work done by human beings
  2. Work is increasingly reduced to a supervision of technology
  3. However simultaneously as work has  reduced the need for human labour or rendered it less useful. unemployment and competition for work has increased.
  4. Driving down wages and creating a great reserve army of labour also produces a disincentive to invest in the technologization of work for it remains cheaper to have individuals do it. Thus Amazon's picking centres are some of the most technologically advanced spaces, and yet it remains cheaper to have individuals walk for miles every evening collecting orders, than it does to invest in autonomization.
  5. Corresponding to the supervision of technology, there is therefore also an expansion in completely menial bullshit work, which usually places individuals at the service of technology.
  6. However inspite of the massive displacement of work from being the very basis of valorization there hasn't been a corresponding displacement of work as the key way in which we organise our society. Society therefore remains organised around the 9-5 working week, the ideal of full-time work, the idea of work as the ultimate social good and neccessary objective of our lives...
  7. Now what I'm interested in is the following, just think how much work is done to keep this work society going. Or how much time do we spend administrating this system which no longer appears to perform a function?
  8. From the institutional perspective just think of the prevalence now of Human Resources, Employment Law, the increased provision of domestic and personal services for those who are short on time, or the amount of time spent generating convenience for those constantly in a rush. But also think of how under the pressure to permanently reduce the cost of labour, and in the knowledge of a permanent reserve army of labour, this produces a whole surveillence of the labour process, a constant need to set targets and ensure certain standards are being met, to maximise labour output and ensure that individuals are really working for their jobs. The place where such a contradiction is most evident is academia. At its best academia entails the paying of individuals to do free research and teaching. However the growing suspicion that they have it to easy, and the demand to make Universities and Academies socially useful and socially productive institutions has led to a complete inflation of research objectives, paperwork and monitoring meaning academics now spend most of their time on administrative work other than research.
  9. What this seems to come down to is a fetishism of the useful which we assume coincides with the economic domain. However that we we presuppose to be useful, that is economic activity or work, increasingly doesn't coincide with economic activity, and becomes thoroughly useless activity.
  10. The task that Gorz sets us is therefore to remove the link between use and the economy and to face up to the limitations of how much human work we can now utilise within the economic sphere. Now what this entails would be only a minor alteration in the current organisation of things, but this minor shift in perspective would have the effect of reorganising our entire approach to the relationship between work and lfie
  11. His suggestions are as follows:
    1. Reduction of the working week - or having around a 1000 working year. This could be applied flexibly so individuals could work standard 15 hour weeks, or work for example for half of a month and to utilise the other half for other projects, or research of learning, or take more extended leave to privilege other areas of life.
    2. Increased free time - utilisable not simply as rest or recuperation from work, but as a time to realise projects that are outside of the sphere of work or of the economy (understood as commodity production).
    3. Job-sharing - there will no longer be a competition for full-time jobs, but a provision of work for all
    4. Income will be delinked from labour - purchasing power will no longer depend upon how much you work, or how productive the work you undertake is.
  12. The possible of this is the development of a creative and innovative society through the liberation of individuals from full time jobs which tie them to a singular field or activity for long periods of time.
    In general, innovation and creativity are the result not of continuous, regular work but of a period of spasmodic effort (for example, twenty hours or more at a stretch in computer programming; three hundred to five hundred hours a month, over a period of several months, to set up a business or perfect a new type of technology or piece of equipment), followed by periods of reading, thinking, pottering about, travelling and emotional and intellectual interaction.
  13. Unfortunately the direction of all left policy remains within the thought of the work-society in which the focus is on raising the minimum wage, reducing the retirement age, supporting in-work benefits and defending out-of-work benefits, defending workers right and job security.