Here’s something that will make change your attitude to how and why you work. Far from defending bone idleness, the writer encourages the reader to see idling as a way of reclaiming time and the opportunity to do the things you want to do, even if they are only drinking or sleeping. How to be Idle urges us to not be deceived as trade unions have been, by bigger wages, but to see work as slavery that makes us cash rich but time poor. In his leisurely and amiable style, he also makes us question the improving value of work, the relentless growth of the 24/7 culture and states that any gains are in spite of, rather than because of, employment.
For Tom Hodgkinson, the Luddites were heroes who saw the Industrial Revolution as an enemy of their ability to control their own lives and work patterns and a force to make them the slaves of others. He mourns the loss of the tea break and late lie-in and scorns mirthless dictators like Margaret Thatcher who derided the benefits of 8 hours sleep. As he says, “if work was so … ennobling you’d see the Duke of Westminster doing his own gardening”.
Amongst the writers he praises are the authors of Affluenza which attacks the pursuit of wealth and possessions as environmentally destructive, disruptive to the community and ultimately unsatisfying.
He also recommends Nickel and Dimed a depressing, if fascinating undercover study of low wage workers in the USA. You’ll never take a motel cleaner or fast food server for granted after reading it.