What If #7 – No Work
One of my “giants” is the amazing Richard Buckminster Fuller. As it happens, the “Synergistic” mindset, the third of the four mindsets in the Marshall Model, is named for him and his work in Synergetics.
“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist…
The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
~ R. Buckminster Fuller
Others, including e.g. Bertrand Russell, and Henry David Thoreau, have also remarked on the essential folly of working for a living. Indeed, some progressive municipalities are beginning to discuss, consider, even experiment with providing their citizens a stipend, sufficient to allow them to live and pursue their individual callings.
What if the whole notion of work, and the civic duty to work so beloved of the conservative right, is just a fiction conceived and maintained to hold us in thrall?
“The conception of duty, speaking historically, has been a means used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters rather than for their own.”
~ Bertrand Russell
Alternatives, might we but consider them, abound.
I myself am fond of the idea of play:
“Do nothing that is not play.”
~ Marshall Rosenberg
Marshall Rosenberg defines play as all those things we truly choose to do – actions we take for their own sake, and not because we are afraid of the consequences or hoping for some kind of reward.
What if we encouraged folks to “play”, rather than “work”? To do those things in which they find intrinsic joy and delight, rather than those things they “have” to do (to please the boss, to get paid, because they feel obligated, etc.).
What effect would that have on motivation? On joy? On engagement? On innovation? On delight, for everyone concerned?
Maybe you believe that folks, free from the violence of coercion, would just slack off? What might that say about your Theory-X vs Theory-Y orientation? About your assumptions regarding people and human nature?
How do you feel about the notion of replacing work with play? How far is it from e.g. Drucker’s widely-accepted perspective?:
“Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.”
~ Peter Drucker
Henry Hikes To Fitchburg ~ D.B. Johnson
The Importance of Play (A Valentine for Marshall Rosenberg, part 2) ~ John Kinyon
Other Posts In This Occasional Series
What If #1 – No Management
What If #2 – No Process
What If #3 – No Telling
What If #4 – No Answers
What If #5 – Continuous Improvement Is Useless
What If #6 ~ Agile Nirvana
What If #8 – Agile Never Happened