Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness” provides a solution to the world of “total work” described by Pieper in his essay, “Leisure: The Basis of Culture.” Russell’s argument—the working class need only to work four hours a day to provide society with adequate means of living—was particularly striking to me because it is a concept I had never explored before, but resonates with me nonetheless.
Russell’s essay provides insight into the past that attempts to explain why the present world values work so greatly. In ancient society, hours upon hours of work were necessary to provide for a family in a regular wage-earning job. Now, however, with today’s advances in technology, less manual work is required to yield the same amount of product. Despite the fact that technology, in theory, allows us to enjoy the comfort of sustainment while putting forth less effort, much of the population continues to work with the same vigor as those did before advanced technology was implemented into the working world.
While many people work much harder than necessary to sustain themselves and each other, the remaining population struggles to even find work at all. I agree with Russell in his claim that there is no logic behind this ratio of work to leisure found in modern society. This ignorance to how easily our needs could be fulfilled if the work was divided up more equally among members of society, results in work that is, for all intents and purposes, redundant.
I have often contemplated why it is that so much of our present time is wasted in the preparation for the future. Russell explores this controversy when he discusses the statement, “…present leisure is to be sacrificed to future productivity…” This idea is one that I find quite contradictory. I feel that it is of much importance to pause from work and enjoy life, even if this leisure activity doesn’t outturn any product besides self-contentment and joy.