From the December 1980 issue of the Socialist Standard
From 'Radio Times' (12.9.80)
I thought the speakers in The Collapse of Work (13 August Radio 4) tended to confuse rather than clarify. 'Work’ is the expenditure of muscular and mental energy: ‘employment’ is the result of a buying and selling transaction in which muscular and mental energy is sold to an employer in return for wages.
To suggest that employment is necessary to get satisfaction from life is a gross misrepresentation of its nature. The majority of us have to do monotonous, repetitive. unsatisfying jobs for most of our lives in order to receive the means whereby to live, and the work involved is not motivated by a need to satisfy a basic instinct, or to serve society. It is an undesirable aspect of our lives which is imposed on us by the structure of society. ‘Work' on the other hand, is a basic need in man’s make-up and he doesn’t need the incentive of wages to do it.
Only by a fundamental restructuring of society, by the abolition of the class structure based on the private (or State) ownership of the means of production, and with it the wages system, can we look forward to a society free of unemployment problems.