Man naturally falls into a routine: get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, or something similar to this. But, in “In Praise of Idleness” Bertrand Russell believes in upsetting this routine. After carefully reading and analyzing Russell’s ideas about work and leisure I was enlightened, but at the same time I couldn’t believe much of what he said to be possible. The part of the passage that caught my interest was his main point: man should only work four hours a day. One, because it would give everyone a job by splitting the average work day into fractions for several people to be able to do instead of one. And two, because then it would allow man to be more active in his leisurely activities. I can agree with the second point to some extent. But, the first point is completely irrational. Through coded messages and careful language Russell is talking about a socialist economy. According to the dictionary socialism is defined as “[a]n economic and political system based on public or collective ownership of the means of production.” This is exactly what Russell is talking about. He even gives examples referring to why workers would produce more pins than were needed. Workers are not producing more pins because they care about the price of pins or the consequences that can follow suit. Workers produce more pins because they want to be paid more. Man is inherently greedy and not many people strive to live with just the “bare necessities.”
The main focus of the article was supposed to be on leisure, why we should have more of it, and the solution or steps modern civilization can take to get there. I found that the whole work was based around this idea of man only working to scrape by and not strive to be well off or wealthy in the sake of leisure. This passage made me think about the flaws in the hypothetical “what if” of Russell’s work. He states that if man only works for four hours a day he will have more time and energy for active leisure instead of passive leisure or none at all, and that this will inherently lead to people being happier and more joyous which will then possibly lead to the extinction of war. This seems all to good to be true. The main problem that Russell addresses but hurdles over is class. The world has it engrained in their mind that there are rich and that there are poor. Russell believes that this doesn’t have to be true. But, as I stated earlier, man is a greedy species and there are those that are willing to do whatever it takes to make money, there are those that are willing to work hard and diligently to get money, and there are those who are not willing to do anything for money. I can’t agree with Russell’s point in his work because he is trying to generalize all men and women and make them tantamount, where in reality there are different kinds of men and women who will go about life in different ways. The reality of a perfect utopia is an unrealistic dream for this species, and I don’t believe Russell can see this.