The hours tick away
First seconds, then minutes
Then hours into days
Each day, each week
Seems just like any other
All work, no play
It’s just another day
—The Kinks, Nine To Five
If we dream, dream, dream for free
And when we dream it,
when we dream it, when we dream it
Let’s dream it, we’ll dream it for free, free money
Free money, free money, free money
—Patti Smith, Free Money
This new series of classes argues that a revolutionary anti-capitalist economic program must start with and be based on demands around “free” time and money and will explore what this means and how we can build a movement that gets us there.
Capitalism, after all, developed as a system based on owning and controlling our time (minimizing our “free” — leisure — time) and limiting our access to money (what we need to survive and live on outside of work and the more of which we have the less we need to prostitute ourselves as wage-slaves). Historically, working class struggles have always included demands to limit and reduce the number of hours in the work day/week (with no corresponding cut in pay). But, not for a long time now. Why? What happened? And, today, capitalist “nancialization” (i.e., money in not only its wage form but also through credit and public and private debt) has become central to capitalist social control and reproduction of the system as a whole while the working class around the world have fought back with demands for the abolition of debt (from the “jubilee” public debt movements in the underdeveloped world to the strike—private—debt movements emerging out of “Occupy”), instituting a guaranteed income for all and the creation of a genuine public banking system.
The first 7-week class we will look at time as a key aspect of capitalist exploitation and social control and what a movement aimed at regaining control over our time (and our lives) might look like. Readings will include David Roediger and Phillip Foner’s Our Time: A History Of American Labor and The Working Day and Chapter 10 of Volume 1 of Marx’s Capital – the chapter on “The Working Day.” The 2nd and 3rd classes will explore the ideas and implications around the demands for guaranteed incomes, debt abolition and creation of a public banking system.
Dan Karan has worked for NYC housing and community development organizations for 25 years and studied Marxism for nearly 40.