N PRAISE OF IDLENESS (Third Part)

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According to Russell, if the ordinary wageworker works for four hours a day, this would be enough for everybody, and there will be no unemployment. Russell here reminds us of the wording of an old Duchess:

"What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work."

When Russell suggests that working hours should be reduced from eight to four, he does not mean that all the remaining time should be spent on the frivolity. He only means that four hours of work in a day should entitle a man to the elementary comforts of life, and the rest of his time should be used as he might see fit. According to Russell:

"The wise use of leisure is a product of civilization and education."



Civilization is indebted to the leisure class, because mostly the leisure people are responsible for fine arts and such other activities in Russell's opinion. As Russell says:

"Without the leisure class mankind would never have emerged from barbarism."

Russell considers the ethics of work. He says that every human being should work only for his living. He should produce as much as he consumes. Modern man thinks that everything ought  
to be done for the sake of something else and never for its own sake i.e. people condemn going in cinema but all the people related to this industry are considered very respectable because it is work and it brings money and profit. Proudly speaking, it is held that getting money is good and spending money is bad. According to Russell, this way of thinking is absurd like saying:

"Keys are good but key holes are bad."

Russell says that there are two reasons for our belief in dignity of labour and work. One is the necessity of keeping the poor contented. The other is the new pleasure of mechanism. In Russell's opinion, neither of the two reasons is appealing. Work is never a source of pleasure. It is always leisure time that proves to be a source of happiness and joy.

He says that the individual in our society works for profit but the social purpose of his work lies in the consumption of what he produces. It is this divorce between individual and social purpose of production that makes matters difficult.

In short, Russell's views are based on wider and sympathetic grounds. The gist of the essay is that working hours of the working class should be reduced from eight to four. In this way, more people could be employed. Thus, anger, envy, jealousy, etc. would end and there would be no danger of war.

 



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