Letter to the Editors from the May 2009 issue of the Socialist Standard
Re March 2009 Socialist Standard article ‘The real dirty work’. A very good article but the phrase ‘Since there will be no employment or jobs in socialism, …..’ needs in my view some qualification.
I know we’ve used examples of dirty work to include removing refuse, working in sewers etc., but I remember a Party speaker who included such things as surgeons poking about inside human bodies in the course of their work.
We may or may not agree whether this or other examples constitute dirty work but what is certain is that a socialist society could not rely on such work being undertaken on a ‘rota basis’ or by a ‘call for volunteers’. There would have to be organisation of socialists (can’t call them ‘workers’ in socialism presumably) for production and distribution of the necessaries of life.
Would we like a situation where one day someone says ‘I think I’ll volunteer to be a brain surgeon, or shift a few bin-bags today – I just feel like it.’ Of course no-one in their right mind would go along with such an idea.
Going back to the words ‘employment’ and ‘jobs’, both in capitalism refer mainly to paid work, but of course they both can and will mean what my Thesaurus includes – ‘job, chores, work, duty, service, occupation, function, undertaking, assignment, engage in, devote oneself to’ – need I say more?
Phyllis Hart (by e-mail)