What Work Is Really For – NYTimes.com

An opinion piece by Gary Cutting on work versus leisure, and how our consumer society shapes and creates demand (something ignored in the Commentary piece posted earlier today).

While I agree with much of what he says,particularly on the benefits of more critical thinking with respect to our consumer society and growth ethos, I think he underestimates how much of us actually enjoy work, the ability to create meaning and the ability to be with colleagues that stimulate and challenge us. Quote:

From our infancy the market itself has worked to make us consumers, primed to buy whatever it is selling regardless of its relevance to human flourishing.  True freedom requires that we take part in the market as fully formed agents, with life goals determined not by advertising campaigns but by our own experience of and reflection on the various possibilities of human fulfillment.  Such freedom in turn requires a liberating education, one centered not on indoctrination, social conditioning or technical training but on developing persons capable of informed and intelligent commitments to the values that guide their lives.

This is why, especially in our capitalist society, education must not be primarily for training workers or consumers (both tools of capitalism, as Marxists might say). Rather, schools should aim to produce self-determining agents who can see through the blandishments of the market and insist that the market provide what they themselves have decided they need to lead fulfilling lives.  Capitalism, with its devotion to profit, is not in itself evil.   But it becomes evil when it controls our choices for the sake of profit.

What Work Is Really For – NYTimes.com.

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