Exclusive: Marx’s son

Since Fabien Roussel has, on a stand of the Fête de l’Humanité, lambasted “the left of the allowances”, the debate does not stop dragging on (yes, yes): work, is it something from the right, something from the left, something from the centre? Basically, what is the left? And what is Man? From the Père-Lachaise cemetery where he is buried, Paul Lafargue wanted to intervene in these discussions. This desire was tickled by Sandrine Rousseau – ô Laziness, mother of the arts and noble virtues – who spoke, in response to the communist leader, of “right to laziness”, the title of a pamphlet published in 1883 by this dear Paul.

(Useful clarification: Paul Lafargue is no longer alive and the text of this interview, taken from the “Right to Laziness”, a pamphlet which has aged a little in form, we have allowed ourselves small cuts. The questions are today, need we specify…)

The sequel after the ad

Paul Lafargue, what do you think of Fabien Roussel’s comments?

Paul Lafargue. A strange madness possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization reigns. This madness is the love of work, the furious passion for work, pushed to the point of exhaustion of the vital forces of the individual and his offspring. Instead of reacting against this mental aberration, the priests, the economists, the moralists, have sacrosanctized work.

Are you telling us, as Sandrine Rousseau suggests, that work is “a value on the right” ?

The proletariat, betraying its instincts, misunderstanding its historical mission, allowed itself to be perverted by the dogma of work. Harsh and terrible was his punishment. All individual and social miseries are born of his passion for work. Capitalist morality, a pitiful parody of Christian morality, anathematizes the flesh of the worker; it takes as its ideal to reduce the producer to the smallest minimum of needs, to suppress his joys and his passions, to condemn him to the role of machine delivering work without truce, without mercy. Economists preach to us the Malthusian theory, the religion of abstinence and the dogma of work? But we would have to tear out their tongues and throw them to the dogs.

The sequel after the ad

“Gauche des allocs”: when the Communist Party maintains the myth of the laziness of the poor

So it’s a right thing? I want to be sure I understand…

The revolutionary socialists have to recommence the fight which the philosophers and the pamphleteers of the bourgeoisie fought; they have to attack morality and the social theories of capitalism; they have to demolish, in the heads of the class, called to action, the prejudices sown by the reigning class; they have to proclaim, in the face of the cockroaches of all morals, that the earth will cease to be the vale of tears of the worker…

Okay, okay. We understand. What do you want, a universal income? With that, we will end up with “netflixed” zombies who spend their day in their underwear on a sofa…

Sublime gargantuan stomachs, what have you become? We are very degenerated and reduced. When, in our civilized Europe, we want to find a trace of the native beauty of man, we must seek it among nations where economic prejudices have not yet uprooted the hatred of work. Spain, which, alas! degenerates, can still boast of possessing fewer factories than we do of prisons and barracks; but the artist rejoices in admiring the bold Andalusian, brown as chestnuts, straight and flexible as a rod of steel; and the man’s heart leaps when he hears the beggar, superbly draped in his torn capa, address the dukes of Ossuna as amigo. For the Spaniard, in whom the primitive animal is not atrophied, work is the worst form of slavery…

The sequel after the ad

Uh… The Spaniard who doesn’t work? It’s not a semi-racist thing that a budget minister of a northern European country would say, is it?

The Greeks of the great epoch also had nothing but contempt for work; only slaves were allowed to work: the free man only knew bodily exercises and intellectual games.

But you have to produce well in order to redistribute. Where do you think they come from?

And the economists go on repeating to the workers: work, work to increase the social fortune! Listening to the fallacious words of the economists, the proletarians have given themselves up body and soul to the vice of work, they precipitate society as a whole into these industrial crises of overproduction which convulse the social organism. Then, because there is a plethora of goods and a shortage of buyers, the workshops close and hunger strikes the working populations with its thousand-thong whip.

The sequel after the ad

It’s called capitalism. Would you still not want to break the growth?

The abstinence to which the productive class condemns itself obliges the bourgeois to devote themselves to the overconsumption of the products that they manufacture disorderly. At the beginning of capitalist production, a century or two ago, the bourgeois was an orderly man of reasonable and peaceful morals; he was satisfied with his wife, or thereabouts; he drank only when he was thirsty and ate only when he was hungry. He left to courtiers and courtesans the noble virtues of a debauched life. Today there is no son of an upstart who does not believe himself obliged to develop prostitution and to mercurialize his body in order to give a goal to the labors which the workers of the mercury mines impose on themselves; there is no bourgeois who does not stuff himself with truffled capons and Laffite sailed, to encourage the breeders of La Flèche and the winegrowers of Bordeaux. In this job, the organism quickly decays, the hair falls out, the teeth loosen, the trunk becomes deformed, the stomach gets entangled, the breathing becomes embarrassed, the movements become heavy, the joints stiffen, the phalanges tie together.

You go hard, we all benefit from the fruits of growth, which you have to pick up with your teeth, I remind you…

In the presence of this double madness of the workers, of killing themselves with overwork and vegetating in abstinence, the great problem of capitalist production is no longer to find producers and to multiply their forces, but to discover consumers. , to excite their appetites and to create in them artificial needs. To force the capitalists to improve their machines of wood and iron, it is necessary to raise wages and reduce the working hours of the machines of flesh and bone. Supporting evidence? hundreds of them can be supplied. In spinning, the winder loom (self acting mule) was invented and applied in Manchester, because the spinners refused to work as long as before.

The sequel after the ad

Wait, Benoît Hamon, who agreed with you on the reduction in working time, wanted to impose a tax on robots! And there, you are advocating for us automated luxury communism!

If, by reducing the hours of work, we win over to social production new mechanical forces; by forcing the workers to consume their products, an immense army of labor forces will be conquered. It is then that the labor market will be overflowing; it is then that an iron law will be needed to put a ban on work. It will be necessary, by severe laws, to impose on workers in trimmings, lace, iron, buildings, hygienic canoeing and choreographic exercises for the restoration of their health and the improvement of the race. As soon as the European products consumed on the spot will no longer be transported to the devil, the sailors, the team men, the truckers will have to sit down and learn to twiddle their thumbs. The blessed Polynesians will then be able to indulge in free love without fearing the kicks of civilized Venus and the sermons of European morality.

Exclusive: Marx’s son-in-law responds to Fabien Roussel