Laziness as a form of resistance

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It
perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension,
an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. These
challenges afflict individuals across various professions, all of whom contribute their
labour for wages in exchange for the creation of value (the core of profit for

However, rather than fostering prosperity for all, the productivist ideology
serves to enrich capitalism while perpetuating poverty among the masses.

Capitalism as a system thrives on the perpetual cycle of production and
reproduction, sustained by the necessities and desires of everyday life within the
framework of capitalist structures. Regardless of the stage of development, these
structures persist in our society, ensnaring individuals in a web of risks, insecurities,
low wages, and exploitation. The pillars of the free market economic project,
intertwined with the meritocratic political spectrum, further exacerbate these
inequalities. They uphold a system where profit accumulation and individual success
are prioritized over the well-being of the collective. Thus, the productivist ideology not only

sustains the capitalist machinery but also perpetuates a cycle of inequality
and hardship for the masses.

The May Day promise of an equitable capital-labour accord, advocating for eight
hours of work, eight hours of leisure, and eight hours of rest, has withered away in
the face of evolving forms of capitalism, especially with the advent of the digital
revolution. The traditional collective wage bargaining, once championed by trade
union movements, is losing its efficacy as platform economies emerge within the
capitalist framework. These platforms further segment the workforce based on
various criteria such as skill levels, education, and geographic location, creating
hierarchies of labour that exacerbate existing inequalities.

In the contemporary landscape, work under capitalism serves not only as a means of
survival but also as the root cause of myriad social, economic, cultural, and political woes.

It perpetuates and amplifies various forms of inequality and exploitative
relationships, casting a shadow over the promise of prosperity for all. The seemingly
innate drive for work, often fuelled by the commitment and morality of the working
class, paradoxically reinforces its own subjugation to capital. This passion for work,
while admirable in its dedication, unwittingly perpetuates the bondage to capital in
the daily lives of working people, entrenching them deeper within the system.

The technological and digital revolution was anticipated to liberate working people,
affording them more leisure time to pursue socially meaningful activities by
enhancing productivity.

However, this vision has been overshadowed by the reality of
technology infiltrating even the most private spaces of peoples lives. In today's job
landscape, workers in sectors such as information technology find themselves toiling
long hours, often without job security or autonomy over their labour. The rise of
technology-led work has blurred the boundaries between professional and personal
life, with tasks encroaching into people's bedrooms and bathrooms. This intrusion
disrupts the traditional notion of work-life balance, leaving workers feeling tethered to
their jobs around the clock.

Moreover, the principles of bureaucratic Taylorism, emphasizing efficiency and
standardization, have become even more deeply entrenched in contemporary
workplaces. This trend serves to intensify the exploitation of workers by imposing
greater pressure to accelerate the pace of work, often at the expense of their well-
Compounding these challenges is the diminishing influence of trade union
movements, which historically served as a bulwark against worker exploitation. In the
current landscape, workers find themselves more vulnerable than ever, lacking the
collective bargaining power that characterised the industrial era. This vulnerability
exposes them to exploitation and precarious working conditions, highlighting the
urgent need for renewed efforts to protect workers rights in the digital age.

The capitalist work regime ensnares workers within its productivist culture, wherein
true emancipation for workers lies in liberation from work itself. There is little merit in
fervently dedicating oneself to work and employers when the fruits of labour
produced by the working classes are siphoned off by a privileged few bourgeois.

Engaging with capitalism as a system of social, political, cultural, and economic
organization only serves to perpetuate the organised plunder sanctioned by

Consider the implications if working people were to collectively cease their labour
and defy the productivist ideology of capitalism. What would be the future of
capitalist work if workers exclusively pursued socially meaningful endeavours aligned
with genuine needs and desires? And what might become of the working population
if they were to embrace laziness as a political choice? While imagining a world
devoid of work in the midst of the technological revolution may seem utopian, it
raises profound questions about the nature of labour and its role in society. Could
"No to work," disengagement, and non-cooperation be the only viable responses to
these fundamental inquiries?

In contemplating these notions, it becomes evident that the current structure of
capitalism perpetuates a cycle of exploitation and alienation for the working class.

Embracing alternatives that prioritise human well-being over relentless productivity
may hold the key to unlocking a future where individuals are liberated from the
shackles of labour and empowered to pursue lives socially rich in meaning and

In a society steeped in the decadence of capitalism, laziness takes on a new
significance—it becomes a virtue. Choosing to disengage from the relentless pursuit
of profit within the confines of the capitalist market is not merely an act of idleness
but a potent form of political, social, and cultural resistance against an increasingly
antisocial culture that commodifies human labour. In the face of a system devoid of
humanity, where individuals are reduced to mere cogs in the machinery of
production, the concept of working for wages loses its appeal. Capitalism, with its
relentless pursuit of profit at the expense of human dignity, offers no semblance of
compassion or empathy. In such a system, the only respite from suffering comes with
death, highlighting the inherent exploitation embedded within its framework of price
and value.
Let us envision a society where the essence of life transcends the constraints of
monetized time, where individuals are liberated to explore the richness of existence

beyond the dictates of the market. By embracing laziness as a means of tapping into
inherent happiness and unleashing the creative potential inherent within every
human being that paves the way for social progress, cooperation, solidarity, peace,
and prosperity. In this vision, the celebration of living labour extends beyond the
confines of economic productivity, fostering a culture of genuine fulfilment and
collective well-being. Let us dare to be lazy in the pursuit of a world where the true
essence of humanity flourishes, unencumbered by the chains of capitalist

Let’s create a society where living labour can celebrate life beyond the capitalist
framework of monetisation time, people, place, and environment. Let laziness be a
form of resistance to capitalism. Let’s be lazy to explore inherent happiness within
every human being and their creativity abilities for social progress, cooperation,
solidarity, peace, and prosperity.

*London Metropolitan University, UK.

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*

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