Laziness Creates Civilization

At one of the conferences I attended, one of the attendees asked the speaker a question. The question was interesting, but the kind of question the speaker could comment on rather than answer.

The topic of conversation was about laziness, and many participants, including the speaker, supported Bertrand Russell’s saying “Laziness is the pillar of civilization.” During the talk, one of the audience members said that he works in a factory and is interested in philosophy, but he has no time to read or even think, even if he wanted to. Then, “How can a factory worker take time to study philosophy?” he asked a question. It was an excellent question, even if not very interesting. Because I believe that one of the reasons for ignorance, lack of reading and research, and not questioning is to work under difficult conditions and for a long time to satisfy the boss in the capitalist system. As a matter of fact, the speaker made a similar comment but normally could not answer. 


Imagine (or maybe you’re experiencing), working 10 hours a day. It’s like you’re not allowed to do anything outside of work, think about or even come up with something. Otherwise, you can’t make a profit, you can’t make a living. Are you able to spend half of the 10 hours you devote to work, to work on yourself, your existence, and improve your brain? There may be some of you who think that I am using my brain while working anyway. In one of our previous articles, we talked about habits and how they affect our lives. We said that people who do the same job every day do not actually do it using their brains. Habitual actions do not trigger the brain’s decision-making and thinking mechanisms. In this case, if the things you do every day are not slightly different from each other, unfortunately, you are not using your brain. 

There are 24 hours a day. Let’s say we work 10 hours (if we go through the factory example, the daily working time in Turkey is usually 10 hours). Let’s assume that we sleep in 7 hours of the remaining 14 hours. If there is fatigue, 7 hours may not be enough. The other 7 hours are the maximum hours left from the day for all our vital activities. In this case, we have no choice but to watch a person who wants to improve but has no time to question, live this robotized mechanical life.

Before I begin the history of the study, there is something I would like to point out. In this article, I will consider the concept of laziness not as a waste of time, but as effective and active laziness. I wanted to deal with the subject of laziness, since it is considered as, since the whole of activities such as acquiring a hobby outside of work, researching topics of interest, and self-improving activities do not provide any profit in some cases. I will also refer to the concept of work as overwork. 


History of Working

For years, we have all been told that work is the greatest virtue. What if this way of thinking is doing us more harm than good, and when we don’t want to work, it is too much for us, and we blame ourselves for being immature, ingrained into our subconscious?

According to the history of the working, it has been seen in every field and for centuries that the lower classes of the hierarchy should always live for the upper classes. 

The rich and upper class of the society have always been disturbed by the idea that the poor and the lower class have free time and make use of this free time. This idea of ​​work is an imposition that has not changed since the beginning of history and that attempts to change are suppressed. In fact, it has even become a traditionalist structure that has survived from the early ages to the present. This is why the lower class cannot marry the upper class, and even their Gods are different. The understanding that the lower class should always remain the lower class and live in this way from generation to generation is still practiced in some parts of the society, albeit rarely.

Russell argued that it is unfair to consume more than one produces. Although he is right (I think), life is unfair. Because people are unjust.

Effective use of free time is possible with good education (really good education) and awareness of civilization. A person who has not been interested in anything other than work all his life will just kill time without knowing what to do when he is idle. I’m sure we’re all around someone who lives mechanically like that.

Overworked and Underpaid by Gigi Boldon

This virtue of work is a fallacy that has applications in religion as well. The upper class, who wanted the lower strata to work and produce more for themselves, convinced the lower strata, who are already incapable of thinking and questioning, that those who work hard can go to heaven more easily. It has also been said that living simply, contented with little, being grateful, and living the religion is the best way to live.

It is emphasized so much that the fun and small pleasures are unnecessary and stupid that they are worthless when compare with working. Moreover, this small happiness is often not even given in return for work. 

Employees just a lower class? Of course not, that’s only true for the past hundred years. Today, people who have grown up with this understanding of virtue have taken working to a different dimension with the development of technology. With technology, we can access information more easily. Why aren’t working hours reduced when everything is easier? Because if people think, receive education, read, question, and do these, they will rebel against the system. The upper class does not want this. Although they are fed from the lower part, they are aware that the lower part is stronger. Therefore, they try to make them ignorant. It is a way to be successful.

Class of Idleness

Russell’s leisure class had every opportunity in the past. That’s why they represented a class that was always hated and had to explain itself, trying to justify their actions. Since the idle class followed the effective laziness I mentioned earlier, they lived under pressure and their opportunities were taken away from them. Yet civilization brought this idle class. This so-called leisure class consisted of artists, scientists, writers, philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists. However, they never got the appreciation they deserved.

Russell, on the other hand, thought that the leisure class was also harmful. Because a person who has been idle all his life could very well be harmful. Because he believed that the idle class did not take its share of hard work and raised the next generation idle as well.

We see that the contradiction arising from overwork and excessive laziness is actually both. Based on this, Russell argues that working effectively for 4 hours a day will not tire anyone, will not make anyone poor, and will also lay the groundwork for interests such as science, art, and writing.

As someone who has spent the last 9 months living as a member of the slacker class and has experienced overworking, I frankly agree with Russell. I have to attribute the reason why I can’t be unable to keep this system. I want to work, but I don’t want to because I don’t have time for my interests. While experiencing the intensity of work and the stress of human pressure makes you want to breathe, who wouldn’t suffocate when working hours are increased in Turkey and most people have to work even on weekends?

In one of the companies, I observed, employees who worked 8 hours a day were allowed to browse social media or use the phone during their breaks but were not allowed to read books. I think this sentence alone sums up the whole article.

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