For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Ethics of Ambiguity

by De Beauvoir, Simone (1962)

Key Passage

certainly the proletarian is no more naturally a moral man than another; he can flee from his freedom, dissipate it, vegetate without desire, and give himself up to an inhuman myth; and the trick of “enlightened” capitalism is to make him forget about his concern with genuine justification, offering him, when he leaves the factory where a mechanical job absorbs his transcendance, diversions in which this transcendence ends by petering out: there you have the politics of the American employing class which catches the worker in the trap of sports, “gadgets,” autos, and frigidaires. On the whole, however, he has fewer temptations of betrayal than the members of the privileged classes because the satisfying of his passions, the taste for adventure, and the satisfactions of social seriousness are denied him. (p.88)


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