A Few Clarifications on Anti-Work (Astarian, 2016)


by Bruno Astarian, Dec 2016, hic-salta


The text below is a translation of my post Quelques précisions sur l’anti-travail initially published online by ediciones ineditos . This translation included several errors, some of them having me stating the opposite of what was meant. The translation below has been corrected accordingly, and is thus the only one being valid. 

For an episode of its program “Getting Out of Capitalism,” Radio Libertaire asked me to do a presentation on anti-work, based on the pamphlet I published with Echanges et Mouvement in 2005. Upon re-reading it, I realized that there was a need to correct or clarify certain points of view expressed at the time. A few paragraphs in italics are reproduced without any change from the 2005 brochure.


There is some confusion about the notion of anti-work. My brochure, “On the Origins of Anti-Work” (Echanges et Mouvement, 2005), did not escape this fate. The confusion arises from a lack of precision in defining the notion of anti-work. On the one hand, it groups in the same category as anti-work certain behaviors such as a worker’s laziness, when he or she tries normally to do the least amount of work, or a preference for (compensated) unemployment or living on the margin. Such practices of refusal of work, of resistance, are as old as the proletariat itself and do not define modern anti-work. On the other hand, the confusion lies in classifying as anti-work forms of resistance to exploitation that are in actual fact pro-work, e.g. Luddism. I believe that we should save the term anti-work for the struggles of our time (since ’68) which demonstrate that the proletariat is no longer the class that will affirm itself in the revolution as the class of hegemonic labor, nor is it the class that will make work mandatory for everyone or replace the bourgeoisie in managing the economy.

To better understand the specificity of the term anti-work, it has to be placed in a historical perspective. It should be noted that what we are interested in here are struggles in the workplace, against the usual characteristics of the relationship between workers and their means of labor (absenteeism, sabotage, lack of discipline in general).

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