The refusal of work

25Sep09

From Eurozine:

In his vision of “ecology as politics”, André Gorz argued that advertising inflates our desires and robs us of any ability to live in equilibrium with nature. Advertising, he claimed, drives the growth essential to capitalism, which in turn requires the environmentally unsupportable exploitation of finite resources. In RiLi, Charlotte Nordmann argues a propos of Gorz that environmental solutions that do not address this destructive mechanism can only make matters worse – especially if, by relying on experts and regulations, they alienate people further from the natural environment.

For Gorz, the green movement requires a political critique. Or rather, it must return to its origins, as an attempt to find a place for humans in relation to nature and to each other, one that could restore to people control of their lives. This connects to another strand of Gorz’s thought, an attack on the positioning of work at the centre of society in both socialism and capitalism.

The end of work: Marx is an unlikely ally in this argument, according to Anselm Jappe, following several writers who argue that Marx aimed not to glorify work, but to end it. This approach has recently been emphasized by Moishe Postone in the US and by Robert Kurz in Germany, and was anticipated as early as 1924 by an overlooked Russian writer, Isaac Roubine. Common to all is the argument that for Marx, overcoming capitalist exploitation of labour was a superficial victory; the ultimate end was to abolish work itself.



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