Comparing Capitalism and Parecon

Comparing Capitalism & ParEcon Regarding Work Length

What determines how long people work each day, in a week, over a lifetime? This page compares capitalism and parecon vis a vis length of time at work versus at leisure.

Next Entry: Comparing Regarding Employment

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“Campesinos”
by Tina Modotti

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“The Siesta”
by Vincent Van Gogh

Introducing Capitalist Work Length

The length of time people work in a capitalist environment is partly, but only partly, a function of their personal preferences. For the most part, you must work the “going length” of the work day, week, month, and year. How much time off you have is a function of your ability to demand leisure, not simply to request it. And the drive to diminish leisure is structural and exists at virtually every level of operation, below that of major ownership. The major owners can work or not, and pocket profits. They are the exception in this regard, however.

Everyone else, due to the owner’s implacable drive to mazimize profits and even more so, due to each firm’s need, even aside from the owner’s interests, to maximize market share at the risk of going out of business, must escalate their labors or suffer unemployment.

The choice for the individual is rarely, therefore, between working a little more or a little less — sixty hours, or fifty, or forty, or thirty, a week, say — or 52 weeks, 50 weeks, 48 weeks, or 40 weeks a year, say. Instead, the choice is whether to work or to not work. Once that is decided, thelength of work, and largely its intesnity as well, is dictated by market competition, and ownership’s relative power throughout whole industries, not even just in your own workplace.

Introducing ParEcon Work Length

In a parecon, remuneration is for work duration and intensity and, if it is at more or less onerous tasks, accounting for that as well. There is no systemic drive to accumulate outputs, nor “market share.” There is no competition that enforces every more aggressive efforts to win economic domination of any kind. Workplaces have no interest in producing more other than to meet real needs and fulfill real capacities that are more worthy than others that the assets could be put to addressing — including their own leisure.

In a parecon, the length of the workday on average, and likewise the work week, month, and year, are a function of the average priorities of the population for time off from porductive labors versus for the outputs of productive labors. There is no pressure to produce either more or less, other than people’s preferences. And the personal choice to then personally for more time or less time working than average is also not encumbered by social opprobrium or structural pressure, other than workplaces being able to accommodate diverse preferneces and achieve their functions as well.

Each individual faces the same choices over work and leisure, and this is always precisely about how long they wish to work versus how much they wish to consume…with great leeway in the precise combination they are in position to pick.

Evaluating Capitalist Work Length

If we think that people should spend as much of their lives as they are humanly able to short of being strong enough to demand reductions and in position to enforce them without catastrophic loss of all work, working for owners to garner them profits, the capitalist situation is quite good. If we think that each person ought to be in position to determine their own relative preferences for productive labor and associated income versus more leisure and less income, then the capitalist situation is abysmal.

Evaluating ParEcon Work Length

If we think that people should spend as much of their lives as they are humanly able to short of being strong enough to demand reductions and in position to enforce them without catastrophic loss of all work, working for owners to garner them profits, the pareconish situation is abysmal. If we think that each person ought to be in position to determine their own relative preferences for productive labor and associated income versus more leisure and less income, then the pareconish situation is excellent.

 Next Entry: Comparing Regarding Employment

 
 

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