Useful work vs. Useless Toil

Sept 8 and 9 I facilitated work and reflection on William Morris essay, Useful work vs. Useless toil. I asked the following questions of myself and participants:

Useful work vs. useless toil

What is useful work?

What is useless work?

Is Mending and altering jeans worthy work?

Is replicating my hand crank sewing machine in velvet useless?

Here are some selections from the Essay.

Useful Work v. Useless Toil

William Morris

What is the nature of the hope which, when it is present in work, makes it worth doing?

It is threefold, I think-hope of rest, hope of product, hope of pleasure in the work itself; and hope of these also in some abundance and of good quality; rest enough and good enough to be worth having; product worth having by one who is neither a fool nor an ascetic; pleasure enough for all of us to be conscious of it while we are at work; not a mere habit, the loss of which we shall feel as fidgety man feels the los of the bit of string he fidgets with. Pg 2

To sum up, then, concerning the manner of work in the civilized States, these States are composed of three classes – a class which does not even pretend to work, a class which pretends to work but which produces nothing and a class which works, but is compelled by the other two classes to do work which is often unproductive.  Pg 9

The first step to be taken then is to abolish a class of men privileged to shirk their duties as men, thus forcing others to do the work, which they refuse to do. All must working according to their ability, and so produce what they consume – that is, each man should work as well as he can for his own livelihood, and his livelihood should be assured to him; that is to say, all the advantages which society would provide for each and all of it’s members. Pg 12

When the revolution has made it ‘easy to live’, when all are working harmoniously together and there is no one to rob the worker of his time, that is to say, his life; in those coming days there will be no compulsion on us to go on producing things we do not want, no compulsion on use to labour for nothing; we shall be able to calmly and thoughtfully consider what we shall do with our wealth of labour-power.  Pg 14

Motivational posters for your use.

Usefulwork poster


And here is a visual narrative, possibly providing an answer to the questions?















On a beautiful Maine day, I take a moment, to wonder and consider the topic outside of the workshop.





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