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Radical critique of work

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Labor

The usual economic sense, the labor is a remunerated activity which allows the production of goods and services. With the capital, it is an economy factor of production. It is mainly provided by the employees in exchange for a wage. The process of entry and exit of employment is through the labor market.

Its economic study is made by the labor economy, its sociological study is the sociology of work, and its legal framework is the labor law.

Labor regulations

The labor rules are determined by the Labour Code and are binding for both employers and employees. Everyone must respect the laws and labor regulations.

There are a number of rules of international value in the conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or as part of European law.

Labour law has gradually formed under pressure of the labor movement with the elimination of child labor, the fight for the decline of working for the improvement of working conditions and recognition of trade unionism.

Radical critique of work

Some refuse the debate remains confined to the distribution of work, and attack the work itself. Paul Lafargue, son-in-law of Karl Marx, published at the end of the nineteenth century, The Right to Be Lazy, where he praised the hollow technologically automated apparatus of production. Some enemies of totalitarianism argue that labor productivity has exploded in the twentieth century, and it has not affected the amount of work required. They add that the modern workplace is generally disconnected from its purpose: the worker becoming a cog in an economic system that exceeds the ironically urged to produce more while he bathes in the overproduction of superfluous and we consume too much energy compared to our planet.

The radical critique of work has been theorized very different each time by actors as diverse as Guy Debord (the famous army of the back work of the society of the spectacle that said “Never work!”), The German group Krisis (The manifesto against work) or Serge Latouche (for critical concepts of growth and development): they can meet with supporters of the decay among heterodox Marxist, Marxians even in anarcho-communists. For the Krisis group (and the rest of the authors of the “new critical value,” as Anselm Jappe, Moishe Postone or Jean-Marie Vincent), work as it occurs under capitalism should not be considered as the essence of human, natural and transhistorical. These authors believe that the work is not primarily an activity, but, under capitalism, it is a very particular social relationship to the social heart of the functioning of capitalism. It is certainly a “concrete work” (the fact of producing a use value) but this dimension is internally constituted by another dimension, totalizing and that dominates: the “abstract labor.” This is considered by the authors as the social essence of capitalist society. It is first derived from the social mediator function between men, that has the work in the type of socialization produced by capitalism: it is through work that we will get the products manufactured by others. Our work is then reflected on the entire global social work. Thus the work we do every day would be the “abstract labor.” But this is not the fact of doing something that makes no sense, the “abstract labor” is what the work is structurally became  in capitalism, a form of abstract socialization, which captures and structures the individual acts. This abstraction of labor is performed daily, but not by means of awareness, imagination or ideology of work, but in the same course of social production (it is then a “real abstraction” particularly difficult to overcome). Far from opposing the labor and capital as does the traditional Marxism, on the contrary, the authors think they “are just two successive stages in the metamorphosis of the same substance: abstract labor.” In contrast to the traditional theory of labor value developed by classical political economy and the traditional Marxism, this current develops a theory of the social form of value. Value is the representation of “abstract labor” (as a social form) and appears at market exchange. So, for Krisis, it is not about the releasing of the capital of work (by politics and the return of the social state, in the moralizing, giving it rules, etc.) because it is intrinsically linked, but release the work itself. Abolish work whose social shape and trajectory are the founding component of the process of valorisation of capital, instead inventing new social relations. For Serge Latouche, critical work is different, it seeks first to show that the domination of the work would be a domination of “the ideology of labor”, as well as through the social imaginary. He proposed, for a return on our actions and our consciousness of “decolonizing the imaginary”.

Different critical analyzes of the work have been published during the years 1980-1990.

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