Tyson Adams's Reviews > The Abolition of Work & Other Essays

The Abolition of Work & Other Essays by Bob Black
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did not like it

After finishing Bob's essay and having done the surrounding reading, I have come to the conclusion that he is a hack and his arguments are rubbish.

The main problem is how to critique something that is just a litany of errors, misrepresentations, and idealistic nonsense? I'd need 3-4x the word count of the polemic to cover it all. There are strawmen all throughout (e.g. feminists want women in charge, no, they want women to be in charge as much as men). There are just straight up errors (e.g. agriculture isn't losing workers to secure power, but because of mechanisation).

There is also an inherent laziness to his arguments. He'll pepper the essay with references to various people but not actually cite what it is about their work he is referring to (e.g. Foucault is name-dropped without citing what the hell it is meant to be that he has supposedly complexified). And then in contrast to this, he is directly drawing upon the work of people like Keynes and Bertrand Russell but fails to mention them at all.

On that point, Russell's In Praise of Idleness is clearly influential to this essay. But where Russell is very precise in his language and arguments, Bob is regurgitating these arguments in a more extreme and less compelling format. I mean, he doesn't really adequately differentiate between work and drudgery, lumping the two together so he can move onto saying we should be ludic and play. And this play is again poorly differentiated between play and enjoyable or rewarding work. Russell would have a field day with this.

Now, I don't disagree with Bob, or Russell, or the many others who have argued about changing our focus in society away from work. But this polemic essay just comes off as provocative extremism that fails to grasp many pretty simple ideas, preferring to misrepresent and appear intellectual without doing the hard work required to make the argument cogent.

What does Bob Black mean by work? https://libcom.org/library/what-do-we...
Bertrand Russell's In Praise of Idleness https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...
John Maynard Keynes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ma...

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Reading Progress

March 23, 2018 – Shelved
March 24, 2018 – Started Reading
March 24, 2018 – Finished Reading

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