The Abolition of Work

Wednesday, September 5, 2001

In a few short months, the entire staff of Chucklehound Entertainment will be unemployed and what better way to celebrate this joyous event than with a rereading of Bob Black's 1985 essay "The Abolition of Work."

In short, Black advocates, well, the abolition of work (I love authors who state their thesis in the title). The first half of the essay is dedicated to why work is bad, which, for most employees, isn't a very hard argument to make. Not only does work create a social situation not unlike that of a prison in regards to pointless drudgery and humiliation, but the bulk of all work seems to serve no particular purpose. Black is in favor of trimming away the majority of most jobs, and replacing those that are absolutely essential to existence (producing food, housing, etc.) with a play-based system of product generation.

At this point, Black's argument gets a little thin. I am all for removal of work. Work is obviously a pointless excercise in which the able are forced to perform demeaning and repetitive tasks for their cruel taskmasters. On the other hand, I really like to eat and don't really want my food production/distribution to be determined by people's willingness to "play" at farming/trucking/vending. Black never really investigates why the labor-saving inventions of the past two centuries have failed to actually make people work less. If you're going to posit a removal of a work-based economy, we're either talking about a return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (toward which I'm afraid Black's hypothesis would lead) or a technology-based economy (as best expressed in Robert Anton Wilson's Schrödinger's Cat trilogy).

Still, you can't argue too much with any essay that ends with "No one should ever work. Workers of the world... *relax*!"

You can read "The Abolition of Work" at or purchase a copy from Loompanics.

Rating: B (A great idea, but never fully realized)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
The Hills Have Eyes 2

Hostel Part II

Six Degrees



Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip


The Hills Have Eyes

Love Monkey

Out of Practice

Head Cases

Crunchwrap Supreme

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

Batman Begins

Garden State


13 Going On 30



Kill Bill, Vol. 2

Line of Fire

We Shall All Be Healed

Happy Family

Arrested Development

Love Actually

A Minute with Stan Hooper


Karen Sisco

Stop All the World Now

Cold Case



Joan of Arcadia



Lost In Translation

House of 1000 Corpses

Bubba Ho-Tep

Darkness Falls

Pirates of the Caribbean

The Amazing Race

Treasure Island



To Hit Armor Class Zero

Without A Trace

8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter

Life With Bonnie

JalapeƱo Cheeseburger

The Mothman Prophecies

Happy Campers

The Man Who Wasn't There

Kiss of the Dragon

Josie & the Pussycats

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Dr. Pepper

Know By Heart

Waking Life


Thirteen Ghosts

Earthlink presents Chang and Eng

New York and Country Bar


Motivation and Water Tower Grammar

Crossing Philly

Makeout Club


The Gap

The Abolition of Work

3000 Miles to Graceland



The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Diesel Sweeties

The Cold Six Thousand

The Grilled Stuft Burrito (Rebuttal)

60 Second Wipeout

The Patriot

Grilled Stuft Burrito



Frankenfinger E.P.

One Force Down


Both Our Secrets

Happy Birthday Captain Columbus!

Fight Club

Whatever It Takes


That Skinny Motherfucker with the High Voice?

Joe Dirt

The Veggie Whopper

Taco Bell Nachos


Godzilla vs. Monster Zero

The Terror of Mechagodzilla

To The Center


American Psycho

The Del Shredder

What Lies Beneath

The Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Bring It On

Chill Factor

Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars

Bad Company

The Blair Witch Project

Hyacinths and Thistles

Lake of Dracula

We'll Have a Time

Home Depot

Snow Day

The Virgin Suicides