Hard Work

A term that means different things to different people:

Distinguishing these concepts sorta takes the fun out of arguing about them.

Work is the opposite of Play. See WhatIsPlay.

Hard work is the basis for everything worthwhile you will achieve in life.

If work is applying your ability, then hard work is applying your ability with focus and intensity to the exclusion of other possibilities.

Meditation is a counter-example; it requires an extreme focusing of one's abilities to the exclusion of thought itself. Mastering it may be hard work but actually doing it isn't work at all. Many other counter-examples abound. Intensely playing games is a simple one. Does playing Quake qualify as hard work?

Work is the antithesis of leisure. When people play Ultimate Frisbee for fun, they're cooperative and pleasant. When people play for a cash prize, it ceases being fun, cooperative or pleasant and also ceases to be leisure. Work is that which is necessary, unpleasant and even downright evil. Work inspired the quote "This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time."

Any attempt to make the terms work and leisure compatible is obfuscation and double-speak. It is no coincidence that talk about how to make work more "fulfilling" comes from management circles.

Something seems wrong here.

Its not often you see " everything worthwhile you will achieve in life" and " cheating on your wife " in the same context. Maybe if i ever have a wife I'll understand this better !!

HardWork is the process of changing both the world and yourself so that at the end you and the world have become more connected: you've become more real to other observers in the world and they have become more real to you.

Such transformations are surely hard, but should work that achieves less be considered easy? Probably not.

Such transformations are not hard. People have this idea that being, say, a political activist means one is a humourless sort engaged in endless toil. The only reason people think that worthwhile activities like political activism are hard is because they want to justify to themselves why they're not engaged in them and because the ProtestantWorkEthic is a cultural assumption. Because political activism is clearly worthwhile, people assume that it requires hard work even in the face of contrary evidence. If people believed in something opposite the ProtestantWorkEthic, then genuine civic participation would be considered a pleasure instead of a chore.

How much work is to be found in an activity is at least partly caused by the attitude people bring to it. The effect works both individually and collectively. Individually, if people think that something is hard then they won't find the pleasure in it. Collectively, if society at large thinks something is hard then the few individuals who attempt it will find it harder going.

There are many different activities requiring different degrees of effort and compulsion. On one extreme are activities which require no compulsion, like having sex, on the other extreme are activities which require much compulsion, like slave labour. Most activities fall somewhere in between. Those activities could then be termed leisure or work with equal preference. However, if someone believes that only work is worthwhile then they will characterize all these 'mixed leisure-work' activities by their work component. The problem then is that this person lumps all worthwhile activity with abject slavery. It is far preferable to lump all of the worthwhile activities with sex so that one can avoid implicitly condoning of slavery. Therefore, what makes political activism worthwhile is its leisure component and certainly not its work component.

HardWork is relegated to those things which are not worthwhile. It's relegated precisely to those activities which achieve less.

Hard work is an indication that you should stop, stand back and look for alternatives. Not many things is really hard in the sense that they hurt you. Difficult, strenuous, intense maybe, but not painfully so.

You may be the only person who's responsible for making your life happen, but that doesn't mean you have to kill yourself trying to live.

Remember, if you're stuck between a rock and a hard place, learn to fly.

The ProtestantWorkEthic suggests HardWork is valuable in and of itself?.

Roger Hill offers this history of the work ethic ...

He begins as follows ...

From a historical perspective, the cultural norm placing a positive moral value on doing a good job because work has intrinsic value for its own sake was a relatively recent development (Lipset, 1990). Work, for much of the ancient history of the human race, has been hard and degrading. Working hard - in the absence of compulsion - was not the norm for Hebrew, classical, or medieval cultures (Rose, 1985). It was not until the Protestant Reformation that physical labor became culturally acceptable for all persons, even the wealthy.

And continues with ...

A person who worked, when there was no need to do so, would run the risk of obliterating the distinction between slave and master.

Indeed, this is exactly what happened. Today, people refuse to acknowledge that a poor person forced to work a job they despise because of economic necessity is a slave.

A strong word of caution about Roger Hill's paper, he does not limit himself to history but involves himself in prescribing ways for management to manipulate workers into performing more. When it comes down to it, Hill is a proponent of the work ethic, of the idea implicit in his paper that all satisfaction is to be derived from work. A corollary to this work ethic is that non-work activities are not worthwhile. One finds this in his association of unions with "dirt, noise and pollution" and in his rosy image of the modern workplace (free from the evil unions) where women are the equals of men.

Women are not equal to men today despite Hill's manipulation of the facts. Even if half of all executive positions were filled with women this would mean nothing since not all executive positions are equal (exactly how is the CEO of an engineering firm equal to a middle manager in a pink collar industry?), nor would this be representative of other aspects of society. And by praising women's participation in the workplace, he is putting work ahead of family and children; activities which are widely acknowledged as being in violent competition with each other.

A patriarchal society is not characterized by only men doing men's tasks but by women's tasks being devalued. For some reason, when people depict matriarchal societies they show women performing men's tasks instead of men's tasks being devalued, as if women's biological role were more easily changeable than the value we assign to women's work. Anyone who believes such a depiction isn't familiar with the fact that men do not breastfeed or become pregnant while women do not easily develop huge muscle mass. In a genuinely matriarchal society, it is still men that would wage war but the stated reasons for this would be very different. Rather than men waging war because it is honourable or worthwhile, they would do so because men are expendable. As a corollary, an equal society isn't one where men and women both engage in men's tasks equally; it's one where men's and women's tasks are both valued equally. Since pregnancy childrearing are denigrated and punished even more today than in the recent past, our society is more unequal than it was.

Seen this way, the propagation of the work ethic, with its consequent devaluation of women's work, is just an attack on the part of the patriarchal system. The work ethic is fundamentally incompatible with any reasonable notions of fairness and justice.

Everything related to the modern era on that paper should be disregarded as propaganda. Roger Hill's line about the harmony between workers and management came straight from early twentieth century propaganda used by the US government and businessmen to destroy the labour movement. If anything, his knowledge of the history of the work ethic betrays the self-serving cynicism of its major proponents.

Another interesting perspective on the historical work ethic can be found at http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/whywork/toil.html

Why work? Because we don't live in Oleana. (http://www.naha.stolaf.edu/publications/volume14/vol14_5.htm)

"Work is the curse of the drinking class." -- WC Fields

It's true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance? -- Ronald Reagan

I love this: http://www.cat.org.au/dwu/abolition.html

The Abolition Of Work; an essay by Bob Black

No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.


I especially love this part

The demeaning system of domination I've described rules over half the waking hours of a majority of women and the vast majority of men for decades, for most of their lifespans. For certain purposes it's not too misleading to call our system democracy or capitalism or - better still - industrialism, but its real names are factory fascism and office oligarchy. Anybody who says these people are "free" is lying or stupid. You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid monotonous work, chances are you'll end up boring, stupid and monotonous. Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us than even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education. People who are regimented all their lives, handed off to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home at the end, are habituated to hierarchy and psychologically enslaved. Their aptitude for autonomy is so atrophied that their fear of freedom is among their few rationally grounded phobias. Their obedience training at work carries over into the families *they* start, thus reproducing the system in more ways than one, and into politics, culture and everything else. Once you drain the vitality from people at work, they'll likely submit to hierarchy and expertise in everything. They're used to it.

See PrincipleOfBeneficentDifficulty, CreateLivableAlternativesToWageSlavery, ExternalDiscipline.
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