January 30, 2013

The Playful Revolution

Enough work - time to play

Since these are revolutionary times, why not recommend a revolution of spontaneous and undirected playfulness, or a ludic revolution? That is what Bob Black suggests we think about in his essay The Abolition of Work, which starts with, "No one should ever work".

He pretty much had me right there.

Think about it. What would you rather do? Play? Or engage in "compulsory productive activity enforced by economic or political means" (the definition of work)?

Black thinks the only way for us to be truly free is to reclaim our time from jobs and employment, and  turn necessary subsistence tasks into free play done voluntarily. It is a radical turn from conventional thinking, as we usually think of play as childish, or unproductive.

But productive play is possible. To set the stage for this bold shift of mindset we have to free ourselves by establishing full unemployment. The things that need to be done will still get done, but in Black's view, they will be done with purpose, engagement, and joy. And they would be done of our own volition.

Take a look at "one of the seminal underground documents of the 1980s". You can read it in its entirety here. It is pretty thought-provoking stuff that is heavy in some places, and chuckle-inducing in others. Either way, it makes you think about how work affects all our lives.

Enjoy. And remember to play today.


  1. Despite Black's article, I don't remember ever saying that play is without consequences, and I certainly never implied that work is without fun.

    Allow me to quote myself:

    Because, now that you ask, most human endeavors are already fun. Because the thing that keeps the best of us as good as we are is the fun we find in doing what we do, whether the thing we are doing is building a house or a game or a community, making plans or music or medicines, fixing the plumbing or a computer network or a school system, writing poems or proposals. Engineers, mathematicians, surgeons, dancers, architects, so many of the truly accomplished many readily confess to how much fun they are having doing whatever it is that they do.


  2. Thank you for setting the record straight.

    I wonder how many people have so much fun at their jobs that they would do them even if they weren't getting paid? Or even if they were getting paid half as much. Would it be half as fun?


Comments will be printed after moderation to eliminate spam. We are proudly a no buying, no selling website.

We enjoy reading all comments, and respond when time permits.

If you put a name to your comment we can all recognize you for your contribution.

Thank you for visiting and commenting.