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Are Production And Fulfillment Antinomic?

At first glance, productivity is built at the expense of our fulfillment. Reaching high goals implies sacrificing personal time to devote oneself fully to one’s efforts. However, there are important cultural differences between countries regarding work and between eras. Very early in Europe, especially among the Greeks, work was reserved only for slaves and therefore it was frowned upon to be industrious in the physical sense. Citizens could do sports or study but this represented skholè (free time) which later gave rise to the word school, as opposed to askholè work which literally means “absence of free time”. Later, the Romans and then the medieval European kingdoms took up this idea: the elites did not work because it was degrading. It is only recently that productivity has taken on a more noble meaning. In the industrial age, people acquire status through their work, not their blood. The relative meritocracy gives productivity a much more important role: it is because we are productive that we can lead society. Still, productivity is often earned over fulfillment. An 80-hour work week, even if you love your job, is still a tiring and probably unfulfilling week. At a time when work is increasingly monopolized by technology, we are entitled to ask ourselves whether a society without work will be more fulfilling.

Is The Opposition Between Work And Fulfillment Really Valid?

I would say that the problem with eliminating work is that it prevents us from gaining status. As much as several centuries ago, the absence of work was compensated by emblematic and honorific functions (military powers and spirituality), if today we equate it with work. As it is difficult today to acquire status without merit, I would be tempted to say that work contributes to our fulfillment. Because it gives us a place in society and income, work legitimizes our free time and fulfillment. Without work, even if we receive income from solidarity, for example, we would be judged by others, we would not find the meaning we are looking for in our lives. Work contributes to fulfillment in my opinion, it must not disappear.

Contribute To Work In A Society Where Work Is Absent

If one day work were to disappear, it would have to be maintained to create a transition period. Just as there was a transition period between a religious society finding its opium in religion and a productivist society finding its reason for living in work. The next transition to a new paradigm is not entirely clear, where will we turn in our search for status and meaning?

An Avenue To Explore

In a world without work, I would say that the next way to find meaning and status will be to work to preserve the world. This is a phenomenon we are already beginning to see: we gain respectability by showing our ability to respect the environment. The more time passes, the less we will probably work and the more we must justify our very existence by actively protecting the planet. Of course, this may take the form of work, but it will probably not be paid, just as going to church and doing work for one’s parish was not paid in medieval times.

The Era Of Homo Ecologicus

If we progressively leave the era of homo economicus (the economic man), we are going towards a world where we will focus more on our home (ekoï in Greek which will give the prefix -eco). Everyone will no longer have to think in terms of money but in terms of points of ecological respectability. No doubt there will be a way to count them in an objective way (we will also live in a highly ecological era). This could prevent the corruption that existed among religious elites in the Middle Ages because of the difficulty of recognizing spiritual merit and the close ties to politics.

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