If the Great Resignation has reached that major impact, it is because it comes from the United States: packaged, labeled and vacuum-packed like the great broadcast. Deny work and pillory the work culture of the world’s leading power? Perfect. Although, if you dig in, the first thing you see is how unoriginal this resignation is that, like the famous specter of the proletarian revolution, this time it travels the world again, inviting it to disperse in homes rather than to unite in the factory.
Of course, it is important that this massive denial reaches us from the country that until yesterday had made work the cornerstone of its national dream. But it is too early for euphoria and to know if this movement will confirm the theories held in the illusion of a decent job or if it will overturn them definitively. If it will actualize the right to laziness that Paul Lafargue placed in Marxism as the B-side of Capital or it will end by diluting its momentum in another of those cultural skirmishes so typical of the hypermarket that contemporary capitalism moves.
For the moment, the connection of this Great Resignation with the tradition that, from previous centuries, had activated classics of laziness such as Felipe de la Guerra and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Bertrand Russell and Jacques Leclercq, is not even entirely evident. Without so much proclamation, the Caribbean has been trying grandimitir since the days of slavery. And it is no coincidence that Lafargue, the great ideologue of laziness as an anti-system strategy, was born there in a family of planters. I know that the combination of the Caribbean with laziness tends to tend to the stereotype; But, in the light of these days, it may be worth resetting the cliché as a spearhead against the glorification of work at the very heart of the Protestant ethic.
This is what the writer and editor Vivian Abenshushan has been proposing from Mexico for the last 15 years. A long-term, intense and systematic resignation, deployed around a project like Tumbona Ediciones, which proclaims “the universal right to laziness” and welcomes “books with a heterodox and irreverent spirit, books with aesthetic vitality and intellectual risk, impure books that they can go from one side to the other of the artistic ramifications ”. Abenshushan’s method is also fixed in his digital proposals or in books such as The Insomniac Clan (Maxi), a volume of stories about latent creativity in the decision not to sleep and the alternative world that can be built from that night.
If 30 years ago the walls between systems fell, today the borders between the workplace and the home have been broken down
If Marcel Duchamp —another habitual vague— dedicated his life to building a work that was “definitely unfinished”, in his Permanent black work (Sixth Floor), this novelist advances an “unfinished work and at the same time impossible to conclude.” This recent book is, at the same time, a canon of the obscure tasks that sustain the circulating literature and a list of manifestos against the culture of work (understood, without more, as a culture of appropriation of that work). Hence his perception of the architecture of the slave ship as the ideal location for a labor division capable of spanning centuries and worlds (as artists such as Manuel Mendive and Rogelio López Cuenca or a historian such as Marcus Rediker have understood it). Abenshushan’s method establishes a genealogy of acidia as a creative strategy that transcends the obvious urge not to work. At the same time, it supplies us so that we are suspicious of this Great Resignation and of that widespread obedience, according to which even our most radical resistances must always be imported from the centers of world power so that they are taken into account.
In 1989, the collapse of communism served so that those societies based on the dictatorship of the proletariat gave way to the emergence of digital production and the heyday of Microsoft. If this implied a change in the sense of work, the pandemic has served to consolidate a transformation in the space of that work. If 30 years ago walls that divided systems were torn down, today the borders that separated the workplace from the domestic have been torn down. In 1989, the demolition of the vigilant and protective state of communism left millions of people out in the open. What better palliative, then, than to rest the exploitation in your own home and protected from anything similar to a community?
The subversive fringe of laziness has always been linked to a relaxation in time and not, as is the case today, to a contraction in space. For this reason, it is possible to distrust this resignation that today expands in the post-pandemic, just when telework had reached the dimension of a work model.
At that point, it is legitimate to suspect that, after the Great Resignation, what is being sold to us, with our applause included, is nothing more than a great domestication.
You can follow BABELIA in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.
Sign in to continue reading
Just by having an account you can read this article, it’s free
Thanks for reading EL PAÍS