I listen and read Noam Chomsky regularly. I find his commentary on the structure of social order, economics, and politics right on point. The political establishment in the 60s and 70s didn't like him very much, but these days they largely ignore him. The mainstream media no longer report his work.
Large publishing houses took some of his books out of circulation too, such was the weight of dissent to the standard political and social model they represented.
A linguist by field of research, he can hardly be considered a conspiracy theorist. On the contrary, I find that he always presents the facts clearly and concisely.
So recently I listened to an audio clip of him talking about work. In it, he addresses the idea that people have the right to control their own work.
Currently we don't.
Most of us are commanded to work under threat of loss of our comfort, shelter, food and other basic needs.
Additionally to that, we are under treat of loss of self, punishment by the rule of law, and the right to live in what we deem “a civilised society”.
In other words, if you don't work and earn a living you're a bum. And if you don't pay your “bills” you're going to jail.
For quite a while now, I've been obsessed with the nature and value of work as it relates to our happiness. I have done some initial research on the subject and intend to explore it further so keep your earballs tuned.
For your convenience, I've downloaded and cleaned up the transcript from the Chomsky audio;
Okay, I mean, the principle as far as I can see, goes right back to the Enlightenment. You know like if you go back to classical Enlightenment thought, I'm not talking about Adam Smith and you know Jefferson and those guys. The sort of core idea is people have a right to control their own work, you know. I'll quote some standard formula from back in an 18th century, you know, leading heroes of the Enlightenment – if a person works, if a person does beautiful work under external command, meaning for wages, we may admire what he does but we despise what he is. Because he’s not a free human being. That goes all the way through classical liberal thought and enlightenment thought. I mean you know Alexis de Tocqueville says under wage labor the art advances the artisan declines. Now you find this going right into the working class movements and Lowell and Lawrence, I think that's just natural I wouldn't try to convince anybody of it. But it seems to me if you think about it, yeah, why should you work on command? I mean if you work on command you're some kind of slave. Why not work because it's coming out of your needs and interests? I mean like it’s cheap for me to say, I'm in a fancy University, in a science department, and I can do that. One of the nice things about being in the sciences and fancy universities is that you really do have workers' control. To a very large extent we control what we do, you know. You want to work on this topic, you want to work on that topic, I mean you got to sell it to funders and this and that. But the degree of workers control at the elite level is quite substantial. I mean that's why it's such a privilege to be in a science department. It’s an enormously privileged existence. Forget the money. If they paid you one-tenth the amount of money it would still be a much better existence than working on command. Now I think people do know that. You know, I don't think that these enlightenment ideas are hard to grasp. I think people know that if you work under external control you may despise, admire what the person does but despise what he is. Because his labor, you know the sort of central part of your life, is being done at somebody else's orders. And you're not controlling the way it's done, or why it's done, or how it's used or anything else. Well you can't have every individual controlling every single thing but that's why you have democratic structures. Because people control things together you know. Okay, I don't know how to, I wouldn't try to convince anybody of this because I frankly just don't believe that everyone doesn't know it. I think maybe I'm sentimental, but it seems to me, if you sort of cut away waves of, you know, layers of distortion and delusion, these things that were considered pretty obvious 200 years ago are still obvious.Noam Chomsky