Toil and work are two separate things. Toil is what one must. For money. This critical fact is badly neglected. Whole books are written, television programmes, films, myriad newspaper articles without acknowledging this basic necessity. And yet even with immense amounts of toil immense numbers of people never have enough. And other people who toil less have a great deal. One doesn’t need to understand Marx to understand that there is little relationship between the amount of toil and the money riches. There are many other determinants at work.
Work is what happens when the hours of toil are complete. The late night hours reading through the great books. Marx’s Capital, Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, Gramsci, Rosa Luxemburg, To the Finland Station, Dante, Gorky, Balzac, Orwell, Engels, Waugh, JB Priestley, Sylvia Pankhurst, Paul Foot, William Cobbett, Tom Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, CLR James; I know it can be unfashionable but I would put Dickens in there. That sort of stuff. The quality without a name.
I always get distracted. In preparation for writing about housing I follow paths which lead to Voysey and Lethaby and discover an irresitable urge to re-read Ruskin and Morris. All this will may be boiled down to one or two lines of the influence of Arts and Crafts on the the development of housing by the London County Council in the early 1900s. But those sentences have weight and style and I hope, a certain beauty.
A tension develops between the hours needed for toil and the hours desired for work. This can lead to depression, frustration, annoyance and much else. Psychiatry should consider these tensions. They are rooted in the reality. One becomes engrossed in the real stuff of life. The Little Ice Age of the 14th century, storm surges in the Thames Estuary in the medieval period, sea defences. Oh, it’s such a long time ago. But storm surges and sea defences are coming back. The planet is burning. It should be a priority action for the entire human race, but we are held back by the needs of powerpoint presentations and the completition of spreadsheets. Who is really in control of this?
After another week of this one is tired.
Emotionally, physically and some place in between where perhaps the soul dwells.
Everytime I get going I need to stop. Either to go to bed because I must up for toil, or, I get up early and get stuck into things, and then I must put books away and start toil. This is not fair. And fairness should be given a much bigger part in what goes. Everyone knows what fairness is. Children usually have the greatest grasp of this reality-concept. But it’s knocked out of them (sometimes literally). No, we must all ‘learn’ that the world is ‘not fair’.
Not only is toil a distraction but the ‘workplace’ is one of the key ‘spaces’ ( a keyword I’m not sure about) where our heads are relentlessly subjected to ideology. Capital works to constantly strip us of creatively-active self-awareness. Because despite its almost hegemonic power it is fearful. The Koch Brothers are fearful. Murdoch is fearful. The Tory Party in the so-called United Kingdom is fearful. Orban in Hungary, Putin in Russia, Trump in America; all are fearful.
To remind the world of the 100 Points and the Plastic People of the Universe:
‘So why the hell are we afraid of them?’
I went for a walk for air, such as it is. There is a lot of pollution from cars and ships and aeroplanes. It’s treated as if there is nothing that can be done about it.
It was good to see the sea.
I took most, but not all my clothes off, and stepped in.
The water was gorgeous. Cool but not ice-cold, warm-ish but not warm.
It had a creamy consistency in the foam.
Unexpected waves rose suddenly and provided wash and power.
The stones bounced across my feet. I was aware of a power; a natural power. A power of nature.
What would happen next?
The sand was tugged away by the tide retreating
creating a sensation of slowly falling.
There is a lot of abstraction. But abstraction is useful. It’s part of what makes us human. I suspect that other sentient beings play with abstraction in their minds too. Spiders, fish, dolphins, pigs, pangolins. There is a need to share rather than compete.
Oil tanker Sea Shark, Rotterdam to Donges. Capital accumulation never stops.
Amalie Essberger, chemical tanker, Rafnes, Norway …..to Setubal, Portugal.
Spitfire in a war against fascism. Now imagine that those people crossing the channel were fleeing from Hitler and the Nazis. Whose side would the Spitfire be on?
The British ruling class has a problem with The Second World War. So many of them as individuals supported Hitler and the Nazis.
There are a lot of empty buildings.
There are a lot of unemployed building workers.
There are refugees and migrants with many skills.
There are many private landlords who offer nothing. Nothing at all except neglect, dereliction and rent collection.
Is it the ‘British’ ruling class? Or the ruling class ‘of Britain’? There is a ruling class which rules Britian and they have a long history of slavery and enslavement. It takes many forms. The exploitation of workers in Bengal and Shanghai. The exploitation of workers in Oldham and Middlesbrough. The deportation and transportation and slavery of so many different people. Intricate laws and rules of who can come and who may go. But who decides and in whose interests?
That same class which enslaves, so too does it neglect. Buildings, infrastructure, poetry, people. From what force will emerge from this neglect? Dangerous tensions. We must fight to make it a socialist force.