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Bring us the six-hour workday!

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Bring us the six-hour workday!

[FONT=Calibri]Yes, you probably read correctly, the headline does indeed mention six hours. If anyone was baffled or surprised by this proposal that quite clearly violates the norm which is eight hours, then it only serves to prove that there is need for this article. [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]Many people living in the western countries today take our standard 8-hour work day for granted. This goes especially for the politically apathetic who view law as something mythical that simply is. Especially the history behind our 8-hour workday has been forgotten. We merely accept that our standard work day has been established in times long past, probably in some boring parliamentary meeting involving miles of red tape and dull men in dull suits. Few actually remember that our spare-time has been gained through decades of mass movements and popular struggles, and even fewer understand that this struggle is raging still.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]If one travels back in time to the 60’s or 70’s, one might notice how the concept of work time is a lot more strict. You worked for eight hours, got paid, went home and that’s it. Only with such a comparison one may understand how our most basic rights are under constant attack even today. More and more workers work more and more overtime every day. And for a reason too! With such oversupply of workforce you either work as much as you’re told or you don’t work at all! Overtime is a standard procedure, checked casually with a slight increase in wage. This is not only violating old gains but is also ethically suspicious as huge masses are unemployed all the time. [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]The dominance of these “flexible” working hours is of course dependant on the markets and possibilities of individual industries and occupations, but as a general rule a work day is getting longer and longer. [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]The reason why we should remember this is the fact that even with the actual 8-hour day that actually lasted 8 hours people had burnouts, huge seasons of stress and other symptoms from excessive work. Some people work insane hours in order to get some extra money, only to find out that after all the everyday bureaucracy and chores of contemporary society they have no more time to actually use that money. At the same time millions of people are unemployed and lack even the most basic of income. It should be obvious that from human perspective this situation is an outrageous absurdity. This arrangement is beneficial only to the select few who reap the benefits of human labor. I am of course referring to the capitalists whose only contribution to this entire system is a signature in the deed of ownership. All other individuals gain only tears and anguish as their reward, whether through working unreasonable hours in order to avoid the labor market, or actually being forced to the labor market.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]This system, however, was not born out of thin air. The market forces have always attempted to maximize profit for the owners, for in the markets only profiteering corporations survive. It is in the fundamental rules of capitalism that the labor should be bought at the cheapest available price, making it obvious that the least amount of workers doing the largest amount of work is a desirable goal for any shareholder or entrepreneur. This system of private ownership will therefore attempt to set up an economy where the least amount of workers do the maximum amount of work for minimum possible wage. Such a corporation or such a state would soon wipe out all the others in the international market.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]There are, from now on, two points I would like to make. One is the fact that the modern system does not even resemble such a society, and luckily so. The reason for this is class struggle, and masses of organized workers ready to physically fight for their rights. The other point is that only capitalism can breed such a heinous monster. I will elaborate why only communism can set up a society in which humans cease to be merely a resource, and why only the abolition of private ownership over means of production can lead to an era where human happiness counts for anything in society. In the end I will sum up the practical implications of all this, and why you, or anyone should care. (Besides the obvious ethical deficiencies.) [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]As I said, the reason we are not living in an effective labor hell is the fact that bygone generations have fought us the right to some spare time. When I say “fought”, it has way too often been quite the literal description of what has occurred. With strikes, riots, and even civil wars sparking due to the need to have some rest, it is safe to say that at least some people have clearly opposed the idea to almost fanatical extent. That “some people” is our friends, the right wingers, as expected. And this claim should not be contested, it seems logical enough. There were, and are, struggles for 8-hour work days, therefore the will to achieve such norm is far from unanimous. Someone simply has to oppose the idea actively, least the struggles would be short indeed with workers simply agreeing on standard hours. Therefore struggle exists regardless our perception on the matter.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]But now that we understand that the 8-hour day is a result of a struggle, why not fight for ourselves a six-hour day while we’re at it? There is really no reason why we should settle with the 8-hour day. Some people bring out the issue of productivity and scare us to think that the society will face unreasonable shortages as a result. But what sense does that make?! Human productivity has gone up so much it is now several hundred times bigger than that of a medieval average. Still we work, by average, more than an average medieval peasant. One has to question the sanity of contemporary society.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]Marx called this phenomenon “epidemic of over-production”. We know it as consumerism. We work more and more because we need more and more stuff. And the reason we need more and more stuff has nothing to do with our material necessities or luxuries. The “need” for more material consumption is in reality a need to have financial figures that look good. It should be common knowledge that the goal of corporations is not to produce durable goods and welfare to society. It is to produce as much financial profit as possible. A common misconception is to think that this would then in turn create welfare. In reality, it simply produces financial profit at the expense of all other values. People who buy into the capitalist misconception are truly magnificent monuments to ignorance! Who would have guessed that a system which prioritizes profit would… prioritize profit?[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]There is no question that the private ownership of the means of production, and the private interests of the owning class play a huge role in this constant exploitation of human labor. Anyone who doubts it is invited to compare working class welfare of those countries with vast privatized industries and services, and of those countries with efficient government financed services and worker rights dependant on legislation.[/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]Only a communist society can bring value to human labor and human time. The human aspect of our economies cannot be measured through markets at all. Human welfare has no prize, nor any material gain. Only an economy completely independent of the market forces can hope to fulfill human needs in an adequate manner. Communist economies are fiercely superior when it comes to human welfare. It prioritizes human needs, and human will by the very fact that it is democratic. [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]Like slavery and aristocracy was abolished with the introduction of parliamentarism, so too shall all the economic dictatorships of corporations be annihilated with the introduction of economic democracy. There is no way for workers to be oppressed by economic decisions when the workers themselves make all the economic decisions! Economic democracy is not even question of efficiency. Whether efficient or not, no dictatorship is just. Not even economic ones. Workers have all the right to decide their own working hours and production quotas. No company CO or pseudo-important parliamentary politician can tell otherwise. [/FONT]

[FONT=Calibri]Only requirement for the 6-hour workday, or any other will of the working class for that matter, is the collective will of the workers to take what is theirs. No other object lies between this day and the system in which the worker decides everything from politics to economy. It is the responsibility of every worker to organize in defense of modern rights, and in order to gain more. No other force is willing or even able to do any of this. This collective will and power is derived from the individual will of millions. It is therefore the task of every working class individual to reach this will to gain and defend rights, and to organize according to them.[/FONT]


  1. NecroCommie's Avatar
    Like before, constructive critizism is progress in itself and therefore most welcome.
  2. Luisrah's Avatar
    I just read your article lightly and it is quite good. I'd just suggest two things.

    One is showing how capitalism will always create overproduction crisis (since bosses pay less to the workers than what corresponds to what they produce, in total, workers don't have enough money to buy all the products available -> overproduction)

    Another is showing statistics from socialist/pro-socialist/progressive (depending on your tendency lol) like Venezuela where the work day is 6 hours, and it has one of the (if the) highest incomes (or whatever it's called) in South America.
  3. RedMaterialist's Avatar
    One of the first proponents of the 8hr day was Robert Owen. In the early 1800s his slogan was "8 hrs work, 8 hrs recreation and 8 hrs rest." In the West, workers have generally, at least officially, achieved this goal.

    There is nothing scientific or logical about the number of hours in a work day. You can have 6 work, 10 recreation, 8 rest; or 4 work, 12 recreation, 8 rest or any other combination you can think of.

    Marx said that reforming the work day was not the issue. What was important, indeed necessary, was the abolition of the wages system, whether it be dollars/euros per hour or per year. Marx apparently believed that the wages system would collapse when workers controlled the means of production. This does not appear to have happened, at least in the few instances tried so far, such as the Sin Patron factories in Argentina. It may be too early to tell.

    One reader says that Venezuela has introduced the 6 hr work day with a resulting increase in income. I can't find any figures on that; however, the spread between the wealthiest and poorest has significantly narrowed since Chavez took office. Also, it appears that many factories in Venezuela, as in Germany, have close to 50% worker representation on boards of directors. This, one would think, should lead to a reduction in hrs worked per day or increase in wages, which amount to the same thing. (By the way, an increase in wages or reduction in hrs with same wages paid, will not result in inflation, contrary to the opinion of every capitalist economist in history, including the present age.

    Reducing the work day to 6 hrs would obviously be a great benefit to the working class. More revolutionary, however, would be the elimination of the "wages" system altogether.
    Updated 22nd September 2010 at 03:53 by RedMaterialist (sloppy writing)
  4. NecroCommie's Avatar
    Gee! Thanks!
    With the info provided by you two I even had an idea for a potential part 2. I owe you some rep.


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