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March 06, 1986 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-03-06

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OPINION

Page 4

Thursday, March 6, 1986

The Michigan Daily

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Edite an d managedbtsaU ivit l
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Moving toward 'new work'

Vol. XCVI, No. 105

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board

Aquino takes over

he recognition of Corazon
I. Aquino as de facto Philippine
president by former President
Ferdinand Marcos' parliamentary
majority Monday signals
cooperation in that embattled
country. However, President
- Aquino faces enormous problems
emanating from a stagnant
economy, a communist insurgency
and a government still dominated
by Marcos loyalists.
These problems can only be dealt
with if Aquino has the power to act,
something which Marcos' New
Society Movement party members
may try to deny despite having
recognized her. Among Aquino 's
options is to declare a
revolutionary government,
enabling her to remodel existing
governmental structures and
design a new constitution. Already
Aquino has moved to replace
} members of Marcos' party from
mayorships around the country.
To empower Aquino, such
changes are necessary but they
should be made with caution. Too
much power centralized in the
presidency is dangerous. A
democratic way for Aquino to
establish herself . would be to
declare new parliamentary elec-
*: tions to replace the current
parliament, one which has been
universally condemned as the
product of fraudulent elections.
Aquino must also work with her
own cabinet which includes Mar-
cos' former Defense Minister and
Minister of Social Services. She
has already had to overcome inter-
nal resistance to release political
prisoners from the Marcos era. It

is imperative that the differences
within the government be ironed
out so that Aquino can begin to deal
with crucial Philippine problems
such as poverty in cities and in the
countryside. To revive the
economy the commercial
monopolies and endemic corrup-
tion which remain must be
eliminated. Dialogue should com-
mence soon with the communist
rebels to end the civil war which
consumes both money and lives.
The United States can help make
Aquino's transition to power
easier. Strong backing of Aquino
and her policies would go a long
way toward making them a success
since American influence in the
Philippines is enormous.
Economic aid should be increased
and the United States should aid
the Philippine government to
recover the estimated $3 billion in
assets Marcos purchased in the
United States with money stolen
from his people.
United States diplomacy in the
peaceful transference of Marcos'
power should set an example to
future dealings with authoritarian
despots such as Chun Doo Hwan of
South Korea, Augusto Pinochet of
Chile, and Pieter Botha of South
Africa. The United States
achievement, as a middle force in
negotiating a solution dispels the
myth that the only alternative to an
authoritarian dictator is a com-
munist regime. The success of the
Philippines is a sign of hope for the
world's oppressed peoples and
something the United States should
actively encourage.

By Clay Agree
We can trace this way of thinking to the
boureois revolutions of the eighteenth cen-
tury. Against the aristocracy's claims on
status and power by right of birth, the rising
bourgeoisie proclaimed the natural equality
of mankind: One's social status must be
earned, through worldly achievement, sin-
ce merit is not transmitted by blood; one's
value as a person is determined by one's
productivity; thus, in a rational social
hierarchy the productive bourgeoisie rather
than the idle aristocratic consumers ought
ot enjoy the preeminent position. The
prestigious aura surrounding work in our
own society is a remnant of this ideology
which the bourgeoisie originally devised as
the rationale for wresting power from the
aristocracy.
These notions which once proved useful in
countering the mystifications underlying
the medieval/aristocratic worldview have
now outlived their original purpose, have
become perverted, and now represent im-
pediments to further progress. The original
formula conferred status on the basis of
work because work was necessary for social
progress and such progress was seen as the
greatest good; now the middleterm of the
formula has been dropped and we find work
extolled as a good in itself, without referen-
ce to its purpose; one must labor long hours
in order to be a worthwhile human being,
wholly irrespective of the social utility of
one's labor; quantity or productivity
becomes the main measure. This is why
politicians and business leaders like us to
know that they are "workaholics," com-,
pulsive work addicts; this is their way of -
garnering all the prestige which accrues to
one with a great capacity for work without
seeming to be immodest. The strength of the
connection we make between one's labor
and one's human worth is such that we are
even willing to esteem one whose toil is the
expression of a neurosis.
The tremendous prestige of work in our
culture leads many people to consider
engagement in some socially useless or
destructive occupation (of which there are
many) to be more dignified than retirement.
In such an atmosphere mandatory
retirement is often experienced as a sort of
degradation, as the reduction of one's being
to a subhuman level. "These people can still
be productive" is the common refrain of ad-
vocates for the elderly. This can be tran-
slated as, "These people still have human
worth." So strong is the identification of the
value of one's being with one's labor that it
is not all unusual for seemingly healthy
people to drop dead shortly after
retirement; work was more than their
means of sustenance - it was the
justification of their existence: Like a plow
horse grown too old for the fields, one whose
identity has been based solely on an oc-
cupation becomes a used-up implement,
with no raison d'etre, upon retirement.
Agree, a recent LSA graduate is
currently involved with the Center for
New Work.

As we valorize work time we also
denigrate time away from the mob: Rather
than being an end in itself, we feel that free
time needs to be justified as a recharging
period for the frail human plow horse, an
unfortunate necessity for the maximization
of our productivity. (One wonder how many
times a day a student in Ann Arbor justifies
listening to some music by telling himself he
will be able to study so much more efficien-
tly afterwards.) For the retired and unem-
ployed, free time lacks even this paltry
justification and is often experienced in
anguish.
The Need For Alternatives
We need to find some way in which the
ever-diminishing number of job hours can
be equitably distributed; this calls for some
new ways of scheduling those hours. As
things now stand, we a situation in which
either one is employed for the bulk of one's
waking life or one is unemployed. In light of
the impact of technology, we are headed in
the direction of annever-increasing number
of unemployed citizens lacking the human
dignity we reserve for one employed full
time. To enable the redistribution of job
hours we need to re-evaluate the way we
nowthink about job time and free time: Job
time cannot remain a jealously-guarded
commodity whose gross quantity is a cen-
tral factor in a person's self-worth; free
time must become a desirable end in itself
requiring no shamefaced justification. We
must begin to re-orient our lives around that
time away from the job.
The Center for New Work is a community
education organization concerned with
these issues. The Director of the Center is'
University Phiolsophy Professor Frithjof
Bergmann. The Center has an office in Flint
and has been in dialogue with General
Motors and UAW officials there. A ten-part
video series, produced by Flint's public
television station, is nearing completion. At
this time the Center is becoming more ac-
tive in the Ann Arbor community and will
soon be opening an office here. There will be
a discussion/meeting on Thursday Mar. 6,
6:30 p.m., at the Canterbury House, 218 N.
Division (2 blks. north of Huron). If you
would like to get involved, or if you are sim-
ply curious and would like to learn more,
please feel free to drop by.
Yesterday's article examined the impact
of technology on employment. The trend
was seen to be one in which the number of
available job hours is being greatly
diminished as automation makes each of
those hours much more productive. If we
hold onto the notion that a full time job must
consist of at least forty hours per week, and
if a "Proper" life remains one in which a
person works at this schedule almost con-
tinuously until age 65, then the inevitable
consequence will be massive unem-
ployment. Given this state of affairs the ob-
vious question becomes, "Why aren't we
reducing everyone's working time rather
than throwing people out of work?"
In the 1950's sociologists speculated on the
impact that technology was likely to have
upon the average American. Modern in-

dustrial efficiency and the general
availability of time-saving domestic ap-
pliances were thought to portend a tremen-
dous increase in the amount of "free time"
people would enjoy. A shorter workweek
seemed in the offing; a great enhancement
of life seemed possible in the coming
"affluent society." In 1986 we find instead
that folks are still working 40 to 50 hours per
week, generally in jobs they find un-
fulfilling; the effect of increased industrial
efficiency has been to throw people out of
work rather than to reduce the work time f
those still employed. What now passes as a
general "enhancement" of life is the
greater affordability of entertaining
gadgets which promise temporary escape
from the workaday reality, gadgets which
we now find we need. In the '50s it was
assumed that work would decrease as the
labor time necessary to fulfill needs
decreased; in the 80s we find that needs
tend to increase to the degree necessary to
justify the traditional work schedule in light
of increased efficiency.
Labor time has not decreased since the
r50s because such a decrease runs counter to
our culture's peculiar "ideology of work",.
We view life exhausted in toil both as an
immutable dictate of nature and as a
requisite of human dignity: "It's natural to
spend the bulk of one's waking life on the job
...things have always been that way ... we
already have more leisure time than any
other culture in history ... the most thatwe
can hope for is a reduction of the unpleasan-
tness of those working hours" - such is our
common way of thinking. But is this
natural? Have things really always been
this way?6
Anthropological studies indicate that
people in primitive cultures (whom we
usually think of as "closer to nature ") -
generally did not work as much as we do -
four or five hours per day seems to have
been the norm. In such cultures it was ap-
parently considered "natural" that one
ought ot work as little as possible; toil was
seen as a necessary evil to be minimized, as
in some sense degrading. The same was
true in aristocratic societies where one's .
dignity was proportional tto thedistance
between one's life and the necissity of
working; for the aristocratic world toil was
"natural" only for the masses, in order for
them to maintain the elite in luxury.
Finally, people in third world cultures of our
day often bridle at the prospect of long work
hours: Western companies which try to set
up industrial facilities in these countries of-
ten bemoan the lack of a "disciplined labor
force." The token of truth in our picture of
work in other times and places is the fact
that we do work quite a deal less than people _
did during the height of the industrial "-
revolution; in the broad context of human
history, however, that period was an
anomaly. In short, the natural necessity and
dignity of a life revolving around labor
seems to be conceptions peculiar to modern
Western culture.

Give him shelter

Final part of two part series.

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T HE UNITED States owes Fer-
dinand Marcos nothing beyond
the courtesy of asylum.
Washington must provide Marcos
with sanctuary because he has
been a vital ally, supplying the
United States with two-important
strategic air and naval ~bases
Clark Field and Subic Bay. Like i
or not the United States has sup-
portea Marcos for most of his 20
year rule.
Reagan's invitation to Marcos
and his family, contingent on his
stepping down from office, has
been hailed as a key act of
diplomacy toward preventing
violence. Clearly, now it is Aquino
who deservers United States
priority attention and economic aid
in transfering power and
rebuilding democracy. Still,
having offered Marcos asylum, the
United States has taken on the

responsibility of providing him
with safe refuge.
It would be grossly irresponsible
for the United States at this point to
leave Marcos unprotected. At the
same time, Marcos can obviously
afford all the protection he needs.
While Marcos is establishing per-
manent residence, it is appropriate
that the secret service protect him.
Any future long term expenditures
of U.S. funds on Marcos' security,
however, are unnecessary and un-
warranted, especially since he ac-
cumulated his fortune largely by
pocketing U.S. aid to the Philip-
pines. Additionally, Marcos'
American investments are con-
siderable.
Though Marcos can pay for his
own protection, the United States
has an obligation to ensure his
safety until he is settled. A haven,
after all, is a place to rest
peacefully.

Woolson

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