Bertrand Russell wrote an essay called “In Praise of Idleness.” Maybe it is a tad presumptuous to claim there are threads of anarcho-syndicalist thought in it, but it certainly fits into the critique that Russell prescribed. The Internet and computers have dramatically changed the landscape in terms of the manufacture of physical things. Do we really need to manufacture books, CDs, DVDs, newspapers? Do we really need to build movie theatres? Do we really need the broadcast towers, the telephones, the bulk of mail delivery?
The Internet also presents the potential for immense benefits hardly imaginable in Russell’s time. Leisure time can be used to make artifacts that are available the world over at virtually no charge. The information age is revolutionizing industries. The question is simple, do we split the world into haves and have-nots? Do some people get to tenuously keep their jobs as another segment of society struggles to get by, while the capitalists see the bulk of the benefit? Or do we split, and give all people more leisure?
There is no good reason why the arduous tasks are left to a certain class of people. It isn’t about the whole society going idle, but rather, redistributing the work between those currently with, and without jobs in addition to ensuring the labor surplus is used for the benefit of the society as a whole instead of into the pockets of the capitalist. If we really think about the resources that are just wasted (for example building nuclear weapons that should never be used), imagine what the nation would look like if those resources were used to improve the well-being of the members in society, including a shorter working day for arduous tasks.