The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure

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Click image to zoom. RRP: Dispatched within 5 days. If they ever wanted to apply it to their everyday life, Westerners had to find a way of adapting this mystical exercise to the structures of contemporary capitalism.

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What would a mantra look like, in the heart of a global metropolis of the 21st Century? What other act might be able to host its obsessive spirit, whilst functioning like a round, magic shield, covering the frightened believers from their fear of freedom? There was only one possible, almost perfect candidate. The activity of repetition par excellence: Work. The endless chain of gestures and movements that had built the pyramids and dug the mass graves of the past. The seal of a new alliance with all that is divine, which would be able to bind once again the whole of humanity to a new and eternal submission.

The act of submission to submission itself. Clearly, we talk about the type of activity that produces all the artefacts we see around us. Work is the origin of the pipe and the wall, of milk and bread, of smiling customer service, of police, of the plumber and the washing machine.

Products and services are only its most spectacular outcome, but no longer its core aim.

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It is simpler to understand this distinction if we look back at traditional conscription armies. On a superficial level, it might seem reasonable to believe that their belligerent outcome was the main, if not the only, object of their production. Supposedly armies were only a means to war.

Yet, that was hardly the case. War was the most spectacular outcome of traditional armies, but not the main focus of their production.

Above all else, armies produced discipline, both in peace and in wartime. Similarly, products and services constitute Work's most spectacular outcome, but in the present day they can hardly be considered as its core production.

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This disjunction between Work and economic production becomes especially clear if we consider the economic paradox that characterises contemporary Work. On the one hand, we have a global economy that is cyclically devastated by recurrent crises of overproduction. The endless supply that pours out of our factories and offices under the dogma of limitless economic growth, does not meet an equivalent level of demand, as should be the case in a capitalist economy.

Every so many years, a crisis or a war is needed in order to destroy the supply in excess. We produce too much, we Work too much, and by doing so we regularly destroy our economy. An even more dramatic state of affairs belongs to the relationship between production and the natural environment. In order to fuel current levels of overproduction — as well as overconsumption, although only in terms of industrial, rather than individual consumption — we are progressively and stubbornly devastating the collection of natural resources which goes under the name of 'the environment'.

Re: Why atheists' arguments don't work

Overproduction does not only destroy the global economy, but the global biosphere. Our excessive Work not only leads to economic crisis, but to an environmental catastrophe.

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Finally, we now have at our disposal a set of technologies that would be able to make most of human labour redundant. Instead of profiting from the ease allowed by a production devolved to machines, humans find themselves competing against technology and are thus forced to reduce their demands and expectations to the level of the machine. We try to work as much and as tirelessly as machines do, and by doing so we turn ourselves into second-rate production machines, never as efficient as the real ones.

On the other hand, the discourse over Work is now more obsessive then ever. For the vast majority of the world population waged-labour still remains the only possible way of accessing the resources necessary for survival. Especially in the West, the army of the tragically overworked — fed on psychoactive drugs and self-help remedies — faces the hordes of the equally tragically unemployed. Work does not simply act as the only entrance to the market of resources, but also as the main platform for the exchange of social recognition, and as the intimate theatre of happiness.

It is not only in front of their peers, but also in front of themselves, that a person's worth is defined by their job and by their level of productivity. Every moment of the day that escapes the universe of Work is a wasted moment, a time of despair and loneliness. Without Work, outside of Work, we are nothing, and so much so that even consumption has had to be turned into a Work-related activity.

The office has become the place where we are supposed to find our happiness and self-respect — or, to say it in the new-age parlance of office culture, to 'find ourselves' — as well as the love of what we do: is there any place where we can feel safer than when we are in our workplace, snug in the warm embrace of our office family?

I define this as an economic paradox, since the signals given by economic and environmental devastation, combined with the availability of labour-reducing technologies, logically point towards a dramatic downsizing of human investment into Work. Yet, as we have seen, the cultural discourse around Work seems to be speeding in the opposite direction, claiming an ever-greater role for it in our lives and in the construction of our economic, social and even affective environment.

How is this possible?

The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure

If the effects of contemporary Work are both unnecessary and harmful, why do we continue investing everything in it? What is Work for? Contemporary offices and factories produce obedience, the necessary cement for a society struggling to maintain an abstract, immortal roof over its head. If we want to understand this relationship between obedience and Religion, we must begin by taking a closer look at obedience itself. There is often a deep misunderstanding about the relationship between power and obedience. We are used to believing that obedience is submitted to the power that rules over it, both in a logical and a productive sense.

We are used to considering the command of the master as productive of the activity of those submitted to it.

The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure
The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure

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