Towards Workless Worlds Tantra Culture

In the essay, In Praise of Idleness (1932), Russell argued that work was an overrated virtue and that civilized living demanded leisure time, in which one could pursue personal interests. Belief in work as duty gave rise to the morality of slaves: a device used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters.  

What is needed is the opportunity for anyone who wanted it to obtain sufficient income from a minimal working week. That would only require that people receive a fairer proportion of the wealth they generate than is the norm now and that they maintain that share when the profits they generate are spent on technological advancement. If the amount of work a person can double, they should work half as much for the same pay - half, meaning half the time at work. 

We continue to need reminding that the idea of work as intrinsically virtuous is fiction. We should do our fair share of work. There needs to be an end to the perverse admiration of long hours, with its consequent tolerance of systematic unemployment. Less than two hundred years into the Industrial Revolution and ninety years back, it appeared promising in reducing the necessity of long working hours. Bertrand Russell's optimism prompted him to pen the essay 'In Praise of Idleness', which can be more appropriately treated as 'In Praise of Leisure'. 

He saw in the enhancement of productivity in the Industrial Revolution a path to civilized living, with the increased leisure time spent in the pursuit of subtler activities of human choice: music, poetry, literature, culture, meditation, and philosophy. He felt that universal education would cultivate people's minds to enjoy various avenues of pleasure and happiness. However, instead, the trajectory of Capitalism's greed-for-profit has pushed them into long working hours and the majority of society, to the curse of illiteracy, unemployment, malnutrition, and misery. 

Agricultural Era: 

Historically, the appearance of organized agriculture, ten thousand years ago, also institutionalized Work. The seasonal, cyclical nature of the agricultural activity, and rearing of domesticated animals, brought into communities master-serf or master-slave relationships of work. For long, the agrarian wave lasted most of the last ten thousand years, as the Industrial revolution appeared less than three hundred years ago. 

Their pastoral life made no distinction between home and work, which finds ample reflection in the cultural and economic lives. (Post-Covid, we see the revival of working from home made possible by the Digital assets). The communities that generated 'leisure' or 'leisured class' gave rise to all the cultures and civilizations. One unsavoury reason behind the flourish of societies was slave labour. 

Industrial Revolution: 

The Industrial Revolution brought new relationship in communities, owners-workers, and the factory format of work that separated work from home and increased the working hours while decreasing the leisure hours. The capitalist culture imposed ideas such as "work is worship; an idle brain is devil's workshop", etc., cultivating social morality of slavery; work is intrinsically virtuous, and leisure, a vice. 

Communism and Work: 

Marxism arose as a reaction to the ugly face of the Industrial Revolution. Ironically, their obsession with economic relations and an ideology that did not factor subtler human potentialities other than monetary inverted the work ethic as an opiate of the masses. Again, work became State-sponsored virtue, and leisure was potentially anti-communist! All art sought legitimacy in Party's intellectual propaganda, and Public intellectuals were stigmatized.

Indian communists opposed the induction of new technology on the factory floor and public offices, condemning blue and white-collar workers to needless labour, toil and misery, instead of demanding fair wages and reducing working hours. Indian communists also believed in the morality of slaves, that is, work is the lot of workers, drawing inspiration from Russia and China to promote a defective ideology. 

In His Own Words: 

Prout's Propounder, Shrii P R Sarkar, said back in 1989, "As life becomes increasingly easy, there will be greater opportunities for intellectual pursuits. A day will come when there will be hardly any need for human beings to work. This may sound strange today and perhaps we might not like to hear such a thing, but that day will surely come. Physicality will be transformed into more and more intellectuality, and intellectuality will be transformed into the culminating point of Spirituality. To move ahead, from physicality to intellectuality is the Proutistic order. It is the surest movement of human life -- it is the surest movement of human destiny." ('Prout In a Nutshell'). 

Spirituality without intellectuality makes us dogma-centred; intellectuality without spirituality makes us matter-centred. The catch-22 situation finds resolution in Sarkar's Neohumanist approach to the welfare of all living beings based on Spirituality.

Work Compulsion to Volunteerism: 

In 1995, Jeremy Rifkin published The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era. Rifkin predicted the growth of a Third sector - voluntary and community-based service organizations. It would create new jobs with government support, rebuild decaying neighbourhoods and provide social services ... redirecting federal and state funds to provide a "social wage" to Third sector workers. 

Daniel Susskind authored A World Without Work (2020), concluding that "In the twenty-first century, we will build systems and machines that are far more capable than those we have today. I don't believe we can escape that fact. These new technologies will continue to take on tasks that we thought only human beings would ever do. I do not believe we can avoid that, either. Our challenge, as I see it, is to take those unavoidable features of the future as given, and still build a world where all of us can flourish."

Social Purchasing Capacity: 

The issues of a world without work, and the consequent unemployment, in the first place, will have to be resolved by the universal provision of Social Purchasing Capacity (SPC), tweaking for the better concept of the Universal Basic Income (UBI). From the vantage of such a social safety net, the leisured class of each Samaj, basking in the sun of linguistic and cultural sovereignty, will opt for volunteerism in work and invest leisure in higher pursuits of culture, yoga and meditation. Thus, the Prout economy of the society will secure Asti: Existence, Bhati: Expansion of Mind) and Anandam (Bliss). 

Technological Unemployment: 

The capabilities we use to earn a living can be classified as Manual, Cognitive, and Affective. (Affective capacities relate to human moods, feelings, and attitudes). Machines have been taking over the jobs requiring manual abilities for decades. We can see cognitive abilities starting to go the same way. We cannot be confident that jobs requiring affective skills will always be reserved for humans: machines can already tell if you are happy, surprised or depressed. The current disruption will continue to produce massive 'precarious' or Precariat class instead of Proletariat, leading to technological unemployment. 

Workless World and Abundance: 

As we enter a world without work, the relentless advances in bio and info technologies will deliver abundance, not mere production, but on-demand, distributed production. The economy would shift from an obsession with the 'propreitarianism' to shared 'cosmic inheritance' and greed-driven 'monetarism' to 'progressive utilization'. Consequently, the sustainable patterns of maximum production and rational distribution of the needs will bring sustenance and plenty for humanity and all the planetary living beings, plants, animals, animate and even inanimate.

Prout and Social Psychology: 

Moving beyond the 'Age of Labour' will require recognising that the challenge of a world without work isn't just economical but political and psychological. 

Human acquisitive psychology, over and above the satisfaction of social needs, distinguishes us from the rest of the species on earth. The rest of the millions of species only take from nature what is required for their existence. 

The acquisitive psychology is behind the hoarding of wealth and Capitalism. The abnormal human propensity is a psychological disease. Currently, acquisitive psychology as a value system and its institutions are in decline. However, the change from the greed-driven capitalist age to the next would not be an easy passage.

Shri P. R Sarkar argues that socio-economic theories should not go against the psychological makeup of the human body and the collective psychology of society. "The human body or human existence is a biological structure goaded by psychology, by certain vrtti's (propensities)...the inborn instinct is there. At the same time, there are certain fundamental socio-psycho-physical demands, passions and propensities. Similarly, socio-economic life is a biological structure, goaded by psychic urges and the different psycho-physical propensities; that is, it is goaded by psychology." 

Defining Work: 

The word 'shram' evolved from 'shaman', historically the first mental worker, and 'Sharma', a title to denote him. The word 'parishrama', denoting physical work, came later. For humans, work is primarily mental, unlike the other species on earth. Work is defined and redefined, and its valuation changes from one era to the next.

What a housewife does is not recognized as work.  What a homemaker does is recognized as work. Many engagements, such as taking care of the children and elders, is not looked upon as work. In a world without work, they will be the most important in society's work. In the patriarchal society, for the same job, the wages for women are less than that of men. Further, wage-free family women labour in agriculture is substantial, but practically not factored in production costs. 

Approach to Work: 

The approach to work has implications for human experience. For example, Bernard Shaw said, "it would be ideal if work is play". In the same vein, Thomas Edison said, "I never did a day's work in my life; it was all fun." When you work, you are tired, and when the same is felt like fun, sport or play, you are full of energy. 

Lord Krsna's discourse in the Gita, on the science of action, gave the theory of Nishkama karma or 'detached activism and its attribution to Brahma-hood (divinity)' freeing oneself from the reactive momenta of action. Every ego-self action in nature attracts equal and opposite reaction, immediately or as potential reactive momenta, in the future. As an efficient stance of work (karyadakshata), expansion of mind (Vistara), and a way of life (Rasa and Seva), the message of Nishkama karma has no parallel - *sublimation of the individual's ceaseless physical and mental flow or work itself to Spirituality.  

Lord Shiva on Work: 

KarmaŃa Baddhate Jiivah 
VidyayÁ Tu Pramuchyate 

(People bound by Karma are Liberated by Self-Knowledge).

Commenting on the Shivokti (02 0f 12), Shrii P R Sarkar observes - You may hear some people say, “Keep working, keep working.” Surely you will work, but you must not work without intellect. So.. read as much as you can, cultivate the faculty of knowledge, and accept only those worthy of acceptance after rational thinking

Yoga Economics: 

In a world without work, the massive unemployment forecast will cause social and psychological distress. We have grown up to believe in our self-worth and seek satisfaction, and meaning of life, in our job identity. The world we have grown, and the world we will live in, are different. To negotiate the two worlds, we need clarity and a universal safety-net of guaranteed provision of the physical needs.

Meditation - The Survival Tool:

Surveillance capitalism, powered by the control of digital technology platforms and the algorithms influencing our behaviour, has made things all the more difficult. Yuval Noah Harari, the foremost thinker of our times, has the following observations. "In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power."; "I began meditating two hours every day. Without the focus and clarity of this practice, I could not have written Homo Sapiens or Homo Deus." "Meditation is any method for direct observation of one's own mind". 

Path Of Bliss:

All the time-honoured traditions advise, 'Know Thyself'. Prout's socio-economy aims to expand the leisure of individuals and society - devoted to the pursuit of happiness in the subtler mental realms (Culture) and ecstasy of Spirituality through a tantric cult of psycho-spiritual practices.


      G Surender Reddy

Post a Comment