For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work


by Marx, Karl (1993)

Key Passage

The creation of a large quantity of disposable time apart from necessary labour time for societygenerally and each of its members (i.e. room for the development of the individuals’ full productiveforces, hence those of society also), this creation of not-labour time appears in the stage of capital, as ofall earlier ones, as not-labour time, free time, for a few. What capital adds is that it increases the surpluslabour time of the mass by all the means of art and science, because its wealth consists directly in theappropriation of surplus labour time; since value directly its purpose, not use value. It is thus, despiteitself, instrumental in creating the means of social disposable time, in order to reduce labour time forthe whole society to a diminishing minimum, and thus to free everyone’s time for their owndevelopment. But its tendency always, on the one side, to create disposable time, on the other, toconvert it into surplus labour. If it succeeds too well at the first, then it suffers from surplus production,and then necessary labour is interrupted, because no surplus labour can be realized by capital. Themore this contradiction develops, the more does it become evident that the growth of the forces ofproduction can no longer be bound up with the appropriation of alien labour, but that the mass ofworkers must themselves appropriate their own surplus labour. Once they have done so – anddisposable time thereby ceases to have an antithetical existence – then, on one side, necessary labourtime will be measured by the needs of the social individual, and, on the other, the development of thepower of social production will grow so rapidly that, even though production is now calculated for thewealth of all, disposable time will grow for all. (p.708)


No Keywords


"Fragment on Machines", Leisure


Fowkes, B.



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