Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ariston: Value in Craftmanship, not Labour

The idea that labor is the "reality" behind value is one of the most profoundly un-Christian and awful ideas of the modern age. Value is found not in the labor, but in craftmanship––excellence, if you will. You want to talk about the sicknesses of modern culture (or post-culture, if we want to follow [Ochlophobist]), but it is impossible to talk about such without recognizing the awful effect of the labor theory of value on human interactions.

Even the idea that it imbues labor with dignity seems suspect to me. Rather, it simply re-doubles the fashion in which human toil––futile as much of it is––is turned into an item manipulable on a ledger.

-Ariston, of The Season of Another Book, commenting here
Simple and profound.

I work in construction, and my work (and my worth) is usually weighed in time, time being a handy way to measure my labour. The money I receive does not take into account how carefully I may have crafted something, nor the research nor the experience that has gone into that crafting. It is strictly a measure of time spent working.

The incentive, naturally, is to do the minimum craftmanship that can possibly be passed off as work, as slowly as will be tolerated. And many of my colleagues have embraced these two tenets wholeheartedly. Doing something well for its own sake will never be rewarded under a model that measures a person by his labour.

Labour itself is not dignified. Dignity and pride are found in work well-done.

Thanks for this, Ariston.



s-p said...

Well said. I also work in construction and charge my clients an hourly rate but even if I underbid a job I do it excellently. I've done this for 30 years and I've had countless clients who have told me "you obviously take great pride in your craftsmanship, you are a dying breed". One cannot submit one's soul to being counted as a commodity or producer of a product valued solely by economic criteria. We submit our work to the icon within us of the image of the God who creates excellently.

elizabeth said...

Agreed. My Dad has painted houses for many years and I know his work is good and worthy of the craft. So few understand this now days, it seems...