On the Difference Between Life Work and Job Work

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Robert Hanna:

"A truly generous Universal Basic Income, together with universal free healthcare and universal free higher education, all of them funded by highly progressive taxation and radical reductions in military spending, etc., would not only end poverty and radically reduce income-disparity, but also make it really possible for people of any economic or social class, race, ethnicity, gender-identity, sexual-preference-identity, age-cohort, etc., to exit the system of big capitalism, by simply refusing to become “economically productive” good little do-bee workers within it. And instead, they could pursue what I call lifework.

So what is lifework?

On my view, human work is

any form of creative, productive, or otherwise energy-expending rational human agency or performance (roughly, intentionally changing or moving oneself or other things, in the natural or social worlds), under the presupposition that every human worker is a real human person, inherently possessing human dignity, and not a mere instrument or a mere thing, whether the work itself is undertaken freely or under some sort of coercive compulsion, and whether it is undertaken for purely instrumental or for non-instrumental purposes.

In turn, are two basic kinds of human work, namely jobwork and lifework.

Jobwork in general is whenever a human worker receives money in return for creation, production, the provision of services, or any other rational human agential/performative energy expenditure, especially including working for a salary or wages.

Of course, this covers all jobs under capitalism, whether big capitalism or small capitalism, and whether self-employed or employed by someone else.

Lifework, by contrast, is some creative, meaningful activity (aka a project), or a series of such activities (aka projects), pursued as a full-time, or almost full-time, lifetime calling.

Simply put, lifework is whatever you would choose to do for the rest of your life if you were freed from financial worries.

And the basic function of jobwork is to enable and support lifework, although, to be sure, one’s jobwork could also be chosen as one’s lifework.

Relatedly, it is absolutely crucial to note that lifework is an exceptionally broad category, including anything from raising children or otherwise caring for other people, to carpentry and all other sorts of craftsmanship, to nurturing or tending non-human natural processes or creatures—for example, bee-keeping, animal-husbandry, forestry, or gardening—to playing games or sports, to making or performing music, to painting or sculpting, to writing literature of any kind, to making movies, to studying and writing history, to philosophy.

What is essential to lifework is that it involves creative, meaningful activity.

Therefore, lifework substantially overlaps with the category of human play, which is often falsely opposed to human work.

On the contrary, insofar as play is creative and meaningful, it can also be lifework.

So what I am saying is that a truly generous Universal Basic Income, together with the other social provisions I mentioned, all funded by highly progressive taxation and radical reductions in military spending, etc., would make it really possible for people to exit the big-capitalist system for the sake of their lifework, and at the same time radically devolve and transform big capitalism into a fundamentally different, non-oppressive, universal, and dignity-respecting social system.

Ironically and tragically, however, the hegemony of the theory and ideology of distributive social justice, much beloved and obsessively disseminated by contemporary classical liberals, communitarian Rawlsian liberals, identitarians, neoliberals, centrists, and Establishment power-elitists of all stripes, is doubtless the most cognitively effective way of preventing most people from ever recognizing this radical solution to the economic oppression of big capitalism." (https://againstprofphil.org/2018/12/19/the-paradox-of-distributive-social-justice-and-what-is-to-be-done/)"