The strike at AEG Ruthless Criticism

The strike at AEG

The hardest workers’ struggle in decades – for a cushioned fall into unemployment

[Translator’s introduction: In December 2005, the management of the Swedish company Electrolux announced the closure of the AEG factory in Nuremberg, Germany. AEG – Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft, or General Electric Company – was once one of the largest companies in the world, and its factory in Nuremburg produced electronics and household appliances since the 1920s. Electrolux, which bought AEG in 1994, announced that it would relocate production to Poland. The workers, represented by IG-Metall, Germany’s metal workers union, responded with a 5 week strike and protest until a settlement was reached in which the workers were given a severance package]

[Lecture and discussion by Peter Decker in Nuremburg, March 9, 2006]

The subject is AEG because this strike was doubtlessly the toughest struggle that has taken place in our region in a long time, and because it was a strike that attracted national attention and was closely watched everywhere. Now that it's over, I want to draw a balance sheet from it; obviously a different one than the one drawn by the strike committee of IG-Metall. The leader of the strike said: Don't let anybody trash this outcome. And he immediately added: you showed that the workforce didn't deserve this, you can be proud! One quickly notices why he needs to call for the outcome to not be trashed: because then it is completely debatable. And this way of saying that disputing the outcome is the same as insulting the workforce, ignoring the pride that the workforce is entitled to ... well, that’s not exactly subtle. It still must be permissible to consider the purpose and means and result of the struggle, even if it does not lead directly into praise of IG-Metall or its objectives.

By way of a preface, I want to address another, probably tougher and more commonly held way of rejecting the types of arguments that I want to make. It is the tone, the argument: given the situation, what should we have done differently? Meaning: we were so screwed, nothing else was possible!

I know that there are constraints in force, but how you answer them is not the same as the position of constraint in which you stand. The strike and its outcome are defended with the argument that nothing else was possible than what happened anyway; this is the sort of merciless realism that the German workers' movement has been practicing for a long time. The mercilessness of the realism is to always allow capital to dictate the situation and then to make the best of it. What should we do differently in our situation? If the situation just exists, then, like always, make the best of it. Here my argument is: look at where you end up with all this realism. The result of this realism is the lay offs. So the question now is whether it is particularly realistic – in every situation that the opposing side dictates – to always try to make the best of it. Or whether one doesn't have to somehow approach the matter in a completely different way.

In this case, the best thing they could achieve was a contract that says: the employees waiting to be laid off agree to their layoffs and get severance and early retirement packages that are significantly better than the norm in this area. I don't want to speak badly about this part of the outcome; of course, somewhere around 60,000 or 100,000 € in compensation for someone who was in the factory for 20 years, that's a huge sum of money in a worker's household. But let's not deceive ourselves: that's nice for someone who can find work right away again. For those who have to live on it, who will have to use it when their unemployment benefits run out in a year, or on what is left of this fund after taxes are deducted – and the taxes are between 20 and 30% of this sum – this will be used up awfully fast.

As I said before: It was a contract in which those who were to be laid off consented to the layoffs and got a generous package for it; but neither IG-Metall nor the strikers and the Nuremberg staff want to see it this soberly. They want to think about it and judge it in a different way. They fluctuate between disappointment and realism. For six weeks, the slogans went like this: we are staying put! AEG must not leave! We are fighting to keep our jobs! The strike is barely over and more or less 100% of the staff says: oh well, probably nothing more was possible. Didn't they know that before? Did they play a game? Were they being optimistic before, or are they now admitting that they never meant the goal of their strike at all? It is barely over and the original goal fades from view and they already hold that nothing else was likely possible. The strike committee also offered help: given the legal situation in Germany, given the balance of power, even given the solidarity of all the workers and their messages of support, in the considerable isolation of our actual fight, the Nuremberg workforce essentially stood alone; yet again the realism which is so depressing. The sentence “nothing more was really possible” is not the prelude to: “And then if that was not enough, it is clear that what is necessary is something completely different!” But “nothing more was just not possible” is a statement by which one ignores what is necessary and says: We tried the possible and you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, now everything goes back to normal again. “More was not possible” is not the prelude to: and that is not enough; but it is the prelude to: the issue is done with.

Of course, the result was predictable; of course, it is true when people say they knew this would happen anyway. Except: this was inherent in the objective of the fight and its means. Now I want to substantiate a few theses. Thesis one:

One shouldn't fight for jobs.

This completely contradicts the tone of the strike, the whole attitude that prevailed in Nuremberg and enjoyed so much sympathy from every possible side. Especially in view of the layoffs, it is preposterous to declare love for a job. Certainly, one must admit that someone who is laid off is in for a social disaster in this capitalistic world. One is screwed for a source of income, and in a world in which everything costs money, a person without an income is in for a disaster. It is already bad if one is laid off, but, because of this, to conclude “the job is good” given that losing it is anything but good, this is a reversal that one should not make. Instead, look at the thing the other way around: The fact that a job is so easy to lose and the yardstick, criteria, viewpoint under which one gets and then loses a job shows that it is a shitty source of income. A few managers decide that they want to do things differently and bang! 1700 people are without food! That is the job! And the managers who drop these decisions and apply these criteria under which people are employed and laid off – sometimes its both the same – they say – and its no secret: We will go to Poland, the Poles are more profitable for us. Because Poles will do the work for less money. The lesson is almost crude: your job is and has always been a place of exploitation that the company sets up in its interest. A job exists because we can produce a plus with you for our capital. It is there, and it is there as long as we find no better way to invest our money, as long as we do not find a better way to make more money from our money. That is the job! And even the arguments with which Electrolux approached the employees and said: Yes, the Poles are simply cheaper, that's why we can't say no to them, that's why we have to say no to you. Precisely these considerations could make clear to every AEG employee how he is calculated with, how he stands in relation to capital. Indeed: they want the labor, and they want to pay as little as possible for it so that the difference between cost and profit – the concern of the company – is as big as possible.

The whole thing is absolutely no reason to ever feel nostalgia for the job. The entrepreneurs say: the existence of working people in this country depends on the capitalists not finding a better opportunity to increase their money somewhere else than with these people and their work. And as soon as they find something better, they drop them and take those who are even cheaper.

That's why it's absurd to demand a job, to want to endorse it. It is the demand: exploit us! This is the only way we can live! It is the demand: put your money on us; and it affirms the criterion. Anyone who wants employment under this criterion wants to affirm the criterion by which he will be laid off! One can't be in favor of the criterion for employment as good and then object to layoffs. That is, one can do it poorly, one can do it beautifully, but there is and remains a contradiction, a stupidity, which also takes its revenge. Something else is showed by the layoffs, by the way. The layoffs show, not only during the layoffs but also before that when they are employed, that the incomes for which the employees go to work does not exist because they need an income; but even when they are able to obtain an income by working, the income is not the purpose of the company, but only a side effect of profit-making. An income exists when the entrepreneurs calculate that they stand to make a profit on the work. And it is not there if the entrepreneurs are of the opinion that here and now they no longer need it. People's livelihood is a byproduct of profit making, and people's livelihood is the unfortunate cost of profit making. Nobody looks this fact in the eye! Because if they looked it in the eye, they wouldn't line up for jobs. Now the difficulty is, and it is understandable if someone says: you are right, but this is old news! Here I must say, this might be old news – by the way, its completely irrelevant whether its old or new – the absurdity is that this is so well-known, but so few let it matter; so few of those who are affected by it are willing to look the matter in the eye and say: yes, this is the role I play in this country!

Now I want to point out some examples of this: the facts are not lacking at all, they are well known! The companies’ method of calculating is also well known. And yet there are many ways by which one does not let it matter, what one finds out repeatedly. For example, the strike newspaper is full of such theoretical errors. It tells of a Stuttgart office manager who, with a story of solidarity, drove up and gave a speech in the strike tent to those who were there and spoke so angrily that one would like to say: how right you are, man, right, right! He says: “Work in Germany is as cheap as dirt! No matter whether they manufacture washing machines, cars or sugar cubes, it is not about people, it is only about profit!” He is right, this man! If one wanted to comment on something by this man, then it would be about this “only profit,” but I will speak about that later. But otherwise: Yes, that’s how it is! But do you think he sticks to this? This is how it is, now we'll look the thing in the eye? The next sentence he says: “This is a complete breakdown in tradition!” He says that this really violates the rules in Germany. This is a deviation from the normal justice in our country and how it sees itself. But this is not a deviation! It is exactly the way of calculating that has ruled for 50 years, since the last war ended, and it was also no different before! No tradition is broken here; there is no violation of principle.

One must be clear here: there once was a time of full employment in Germany because for a while Germany played a role like China today plays in issues of wage levels and productivity and quality on the world market. Yes, if one has totally superior products at totally low prices, then there are phases where working for capital is so relentlessly profitable that the entrepreneurs recruit ever more people and are actually willing to pay higher wages because of the scarcity of workers and even go so far as importing more workers from foreign countries so that Germany can grow ever more. But there is no change in the position of the entrepreneurs; it is not a new way of calculation. It was not a “social capitalism” in former times, or different customs from today. Rather, it is exactly the same morality, the same calculation, where such an insane demand for work exists that an entrepreneur can't get enough of it, to the point where work has been made relatively redundant for capital. Relatively in just this sense: productivity has risen since 1955 by perhaps 300 to 400%. Now not so many workers are needed! And in Germany, European-wide, worldwide, there are a relentlessly growing number of unemployed. And those who are exploited are not exploited because somebody turned evil and today exploits those who could have been exploited yesterday but weren't exploited; he couldn't exploit them because there were not yet open borders, as many redundant workers, and other countries with production conditions in which one could build a modern washing machine.

My next point is the “only” in the sentence. You know Lafontaine [German leftist politician – trans.] was here and he calls it “turbo-capitalism”; the IG Metall chairman was here and he calls it “vulture-capitalism.” It is always noticeable: if they say turbo-, vulture-, shareholder value-capitalism, none of them says capitalism; if they always need these additions, then it is an apology for the principle. It is the denial that it is about the principle! It is the assertion that it would be a decadent capitalism, a distorted, deviating-from-its-good-course capitalism. And one doesn't want to admit that it is capitalism from which one suffers. Even though one can beautifully recite that it is all about the hunt for profit, the desire for maximum gain, and so on. One can say all this, but nevertheless this is not supposed to be the principle of our social order! He says “only” and adds this to his statement: It is only about profit and not about people. One hears what he wants: it should be about both. Yes, about profit, that is all right, but about people too. He does not acknowledge what profit is all about. He will not hold on to the fact that profit means that a person is the negative variable of the society; that when it is about profit, people are costs; that they exist as service providers to be squeezed and as cost factors to be badly paid. That's what profit is! If this is clear to me, then I can no longer put the only in as an addition. For example: well, I am a cost factor, but it should still also be about me. How can this be reconciled? I am the negative variable and it should also be about me? Here one must say, either or! It can't also be about me if it is about profit. And it can't be about profit if it is about people! And it is actually the mission of the union that they always take the position that these two things fit nevertheless. These two things should be able to go peacefully with one another!

This dispute produced radical commentary, and nobody lets his radical comments simply stand and says: It is like that! Three weeks ago, the newspaper said: “Electrolux is not a case of reorganization.” And a very sharp, accusing tone follows: “Nearly 200 million € in net profit, 7% more revenues and a quarter billion in dividends to the shareholders. Are these the numbers of a company with a threatened existence that must close the factory as an austerity measure? The answer is not just clear in the AEG strike tent.” Thus we should think no. “The stock market cheered the action of Electrolux management. The shares of the company rise and rise. And this is not an isolated case”: France Telekom, Volkswagen, and so on, big layoffs are announced everywhere and the share prices go sky-high. Now the newspaper comments: “Is the entire stock exchange nothing but a haven for unscrupulous crisis profiteers who increase their wealth at the expense of those who are robbed of their vocational lives?” Here one would like to say, yes! Yes, that’s it, you said it! He said so himself: the stock market is jubilant, people are thrown on the street, the company reduces its production costs and rewards the shareholders with higher prices for their shares. Here it occurs to the writer that he has a responsibility as a journalist in a democratic state. So he says: “No, that would be too simple.” He said how it is, and now he says that would be too simple. Now all you need to do is look at what the answer is: without the stock market, our whole economic system would collapse. Without profits, companies could not invest. And create new jobs. And now an interesting question: Is that a no to what has been presented? Previously, they were all crisis profiteers (this is the wrong term here) who unscrupulously increase their wealth by the fact that they plunge millions into disaster. And now he says in answer: but one must not say this, because the stock market is necessary! At least he could say: because we are all dependent on these unscrupulous crisis profiteers! That is the true answer when he says we are all dependent on it! And now I say: Yes, but it is shitty that we have to depend on these dirt bags! The fact that your living conditions depend on whether the stock market thinks it is worthwhile to speculate on Electrolux. That is wrong! But he says: without the stock exchange, Electrolux would never have money. And without profits, Electrolux could not invest. Basically he only states that others have power and everything depends on it! And although this should inform us that it is our misery that they have power, the message is: one should not be against them because they have power! It is completely insane to give a fact and then need to say: don't let it matter then.

Thesis one has been that one should not fight for jobs because a job is a place of exploitation. And one notices this precisely when one is laid off. The interest of capital and the interest of those who must live on their work are irreconcilable. The second thesis is:

One can't fight for jobs.

The story of the strike also demonstrates this in its own way: on behalf of the shareholders of the corporation, the managers decide with whom to produce, at which location, and what amount. They hire people when they need them, and toss them out when they no longer need them. Those who depend on employment can’t force capital's interest in their exploitation. That is absurd. Capital is the side that is free to pick whether it needs someone or not. Yes, if the people are needed, if they perform services for a company, then organized union workers can make the most of capital's interest in their services and see whether or not they can extort better working conditions and better wages because capital wants and needs their labor. But if capital says: we do not need you any longer, then the pressure is gone. It is impossible for the workers to force a further interest in their employment. If people are no longer needed, a strike can’t exert any pressure! This was in the speeches, of course: “if we exert pressure, maybe we will still be needed for another half a year,” but by and large it is a basic principle that if capital wants to get rid of people, and the workers all say at once: we are now terminating our willingness to serve! then they have to be told: now it's too late! It was possible before, but not now!

This is also no secret to the AEG workers. The fight for jobs, as it was waged at AEG, had a completely different character in the first instance than it had in the last instance. Precisely because workers cannot force the interest of the exploiters in their exploitation, as a rule the fight for jobs consists not of a fight, but in making an offer. The first phase of the defense of jobs at AEG was that Stockholm said: We are going to Poland, it is too expensive here and it is cheaper in Poland. The union then ordered a report that was supposed to show management that Nuremberg is profitable. The workers paid a few economists who submitted an expert assessment to management which said: retool wisely, they are still profitable! One actually refers to one’s own willingness to serve. As if one is fighting! One refers to one’s own cheapness and to one’s own efficiency, or to one’s job performance, and says: you are doing well in exploiting us, so continue! When management shows these well-intentioned offers the cold shoulder, the staff was ready to offer new sacrifices. Not only saying, “we were always profitable,” but: “now we will work three hours free of charge for you.” They would even, and this is quite absurd, agree to a huge number of layoffs if the location site is saved! Then the defender of jobs is ready to go to any length to eliminate jobs so that any jobs are left!

In the process of offering to prove to the company how helpful one is for its profit, heard just when the capitalists pit workers in Poland and Germany against each other – this is really just one example, it takes place now everywhere, in all industries – one trash talks about the other as part of advertising one’s own profitability. So it is not just that we are willing to sacrifice, but also: AEG soon has Polish standards! Here one must say that this is no longer the high tone of the fighting Nuremberg workers. It is recognizable, it is objective, that the comparison that AEG or Electrolux makes is not about their work. The company maneuvers the Germans into conflict with the Poles and says to one and the other: you are threats to each other. And someone who does not want to look beyond his job will say: that is correct, the other worker is my threat. The view: No, you are my threat, you, Electrolux, with your calculations threatening Poland and us! This point of view is part of the ideals of the unions, but in practice at least they hold the other view. Indeed, the Germans say that they are actually better than the Poles, and Electrolux should please take the Germans and leave Poland, and not vice versa.

Now I’ll read you something else from the strike newspaper about pitting workers against each other, also from a solidarity visit by a worker from Gunzenhausen. He tells his story (they made ball bearings), exactly the same story as AEG's – what is currently taking place everywhere! He says: “First they pressured us into an 18 hour shift system, or else they would relocate to Portugal” (and one already knows that “pressured” means the union agreed to it). “They told the Portuguese that they would also have to work in 18 hour shifts, or else they would go to Romania!” And now: “We must prevent the entrepreneurs from continuing to pit workers against each other.” He already has the problem that they are pitted against each other. This works when capital says to one and the other: we take you or the others, or the others or you, and everyone from the two sides always acts by referring to the other side. They notice that this is a problem. But they really want the jobs to remain in Nuremberg and not go to Poland. This leads them to let themselves be pawns in the competition. In truth, they do not know a means against the competition. And here I'd say: there can only be one means if one has a common interest with the Poles, and the point of view that AEG must remain in Nuremberg is not a common interest with the Poles!

This method of proving to the company that one is nevertheless profitable, and when the company rejects this, making offers to the company so that one could be even more profitable and talking trash about the company’s alternative, the workers in Poland – this is the true “fight for jobs”! And those were the methods as long as the AEGers believed that their jobs could be saved. It is a sad irony of the story that the radicalism of the strike only took place on the grounds that it was clear to the AEGers that nothing was salvageable.

This is something we have not yet heard in Germany: a trade union organizes a strike and says: we want to produce the greatest possible damage to the company! Here one must say: hats off, hello! But the absurdity is that someone on the AEG staff, and indeed the whole IG Metall, was only willing to take this point of view because they were so sure that this company was leaving Germany! Every other strike organized by IG Metall, or any other union, strives to not produce any damage because it wants the company to continue to be competitive and employ them again in the morning.

Now Verdi [a public sector union which includes road crews – trans.] strikes against the unreasonable demand that they should work longer and longer without monetary compensation, simply working a few extra hours free of charge. A week ago there was a blizzard. Here comes some politician – of course, the politician who represents the good breadwinners – and he says, these striking workers are to blame for the collisions and accidents and injuries and possibly the deaths that have occurred. What did Verdi say? They could just say: yes, you know what happens if you don't want to pay your workforce, then you just have a mess on your streets! And the consequences connected with a mess. Our strike must have an impact, or else you don't hear us! No, they say: we are not to blame for the traffic conditions, the chaos was worst where there was no strike at all, and where there were strikes there were no hazards on the roads! They provide arguments that their strike is ineffective! Because they are so safe, and because they are for Germany, the German economy, the German state, because they are for this whole way of calculating, because they are subject to the suspicion that they could produce a loss somewhere, they deny it without fail. And exactly the opposite at AEG. The union said: we want the greatest possible damage. And the staff went on strike for six weeks! One must imagine this for once! The courage, the audaciousness, the toughness rev everything up! But in fact it is only because they were all sure that the child has already fallen into the well. They dared to strike courageously and tough because they knew that nothing is to be lost by radicalism, because everything has already been lost. But this is really just the same, because they know that a strike affects nothing else. In any case, not in the crucial issues. So the strike became something quite peculiar: a kind of punishment for a country-hopping capitalist. One acts as if Electrolux has violated a responsibility to make profit and livelihoods compatible. A responsibility that it does not have. Acting this way is the opposite of examining the way we are calculated with, and positioning ourselves against it! It is the decision to not let it matter what one finds out. Now my third thesis:

Taken seriously, a fight against layoffs would be a fight for power in the economy.

It would be a fight over the question who actually decides what is produced, and when and where and by whom and for whom? If one really means a fight against layoffs, and calls for this, then we must take away the freedom from the entrepreneurs to decide who they want to use and who not! A true fight against layoffs, against the fact that people are simply spat out on the street and have no more food, is a fight for power in the economy! Or said another way: this fight is against the right of the property owner to have the power to decide what is produced, for what purpose, and by whom.

But it is quite clear that nobody thinks of this when they say: we fight for jobs or we fight for our livelihood. The only thing that would really be necessary is to abolish the freedom of the entrepreneurs to decide according to their criteria, so that the workers decide according to their criteria what life needs are produced, for whom and so on. Nobody who says fight for jobs means this. That is an absurdity!

Look again at the dispute and how it was argued. It is always noticeable with just a bit of distance how ridiculous the considerations are. The works council chairman from Würzburg came and said: “That's your factory! And its our plant in Würzburg! We must not let it be taken away from us!” You already know what is meant by “your factory, our factory.” The fact that they are threatened by layoffs proves that it isn't their factory. The owner is not threatened by layoffs. But this is ignored. It becomes a totally different tone altogether; it is actually a plea for moral rights. It is the tone: actually, it should belong to us. We have a moral right to the factory because we have been working there for 20 or 30 years (earlier, those who returned from the war sometimes said: we built it!). Here we always want to say to people: You built it and now it belongs to the capitalists! Those are the rules! You signed them or didn't you? And we always continue: Do you still want to sign them or do you no longer want to sign them? But that’s not what you meant! You meant that it would only be fair and just if we also had a claim worthy of recognition. And then they act as if by saying it, it would already be settled. As if they would then also own it. One can say of this thought – “but it would only be fair and just” – that it is just a wish; people often have many wishes. But one must still be able to distinguish between a wish and a recognized wish, a valid claim. The man says: this is your factory. I want to make it clear how much further along this man would be, and how much further along his listeners would be, if this man would step before them and say: this is not your factory! And you can notice this is not your factory because they just threw you out of it. It belongs to them, it's their factory, it's not your factory! And if you think that it should be your factory, then that is something else completely than stating that you have a moral claim which nobody will redeem for you. How much further along the workers would be if they said: yes, this is not our factory, and we must ask ourselves whether we want to live with the fact that it is not our factory and raise a claim to the fact that it must be our factory. The whole tone has the quality of making a statement but meaning a wish. In the strike speeches, one heard: “Electrolux can't simply take off like this!” One would like to say: But you see that it can! No, it is always this middle! This is a tough point. They beat on their chest: Electrolux can't simply take off, we have a right to it! Then they would go to a court, and say: redeem our right! Then they would get to know that they do not have one. Or they would just see that this right doesn't exist at all. I do not plead for a right that does not exist. Then, however, I know how I stand; I know what consequences I must draw because I do not have this claim at all. And the German workers' movement has gone from decade to decade with the stunt of acting as if, actually, they have this claim, but not really. They never decide whether they have it or if they really don't have it. Always on a tightrope, really. That is how one says: I have nothing in principle against our order. Because I believe – against all experience – that there is also a little place intended for me. Now you experience the irreconcilability – it can't be learned any tougher way – and the point of view is still not given up that we nevertheless also have a little place here! But now they have no little place! This is precisely the absurdity!

A serious fight for jobs would be a fight against the freedom of property. A fight for power over the economy. And it is clear: this fight cannot be a fight of the AEGer, thus the AEGer as an AEGer. Now the whole power of the whole society opposes them, and, by the way, the workers at all the other companies didn't think of going on strike because AEG was being closed. The fight over the question who decides in the economy why and what is produced for whom demands a total social fight of all those affected by this system who never get anything from the success of this system. They must get together! Then the issue is not so small as: “save AEG in Nuremberg!” The issue of saving AEG in Nuremberg can't lead to a fight that exerts the power to save AEG. That is impossible. But for another issue, that of course can be done. However, as long as the workforce finds capitalistic exploitation unacceptable only when the capitalists lose interest in their exploitation, then the direction is not united. That is obvious. Because if it is always only those who are in the terrible condition of no longer being needed, and who have therefore no more pressure in their hands, and others are barely concerned because operations just continue, then everything remains the same.

However, then the fight would no longer be a fight for jobs, or “work for all,” or any such thing. The fight over the question who decides what is produced, in what amount, in which place, is a struggle over the reasonable and appropriate organization of the necessary work, and not for work. Now my fourth thesis:

The call for work and jobs is not for a natural, universal human need, but a capitalistic forced interest and nothing reasonable at all.

Anyone who demands jobs takes the plight into which the society has forced him as his own interest; he positions himself behind it, and chooses a goal which – one understands that he is forced, people who have no income are quite badly off in this society – is completely crazy. Work, work, always more work! A society in which work is distributed appropriately and rationally among people does not at all have the problem that there could not be enough work. In Germany, this seems so natural: Müntefering [a Social Democratic politician – trans.] says: there is too little work in Germany; and nobody laughs to death and says: did he loose his marbles? Everyone understands it: Yes, there are millions of unemployed. But really: there is not enough work? That is nonsense! Only because ordinary people’s lives are bound to the condition that they must perform profitable work for capital are they badly off only if there is not enough work. Only because they are in a situation of exploitation for their whole existence. Only because of this is there the problem that they need work. But no one needs work. What one needs is the product of work: food, useful things. But nobody needs work. And in a society where people share the work, there is no problem when the work is finished. Then one says: stay in bed, you are not needed! And everyone is content. And the more that one is not needed, the nicer life is! In capitalism, it is exactly the opposite: someone who is not needed is finished, because he can live only if he is needed for profit.

This is why growing unemployment witnesses one of the worst absurdities that there can be in a society. In our country, poverty increases to the extent that the easiness of producing increases. The entrepreneurs constantly increase the productivity of work. Not in order to relieve the toil of people who work, but to save on wages. With the productive power of labor, life could be enriched, the wealth of use values increased ever more. (By the way, today in a detailed article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine: a 4.1% annual increase in productivity. As they calculate it, the output of work doubles every 20 years! Every 20 years there are twice as many cars, houses, everything that one knows to be useful things, with the same expenditure) This is expressed in capitalism so that less and less people are needed for the production of things, and this does not mean: hello, free time increases; but, in capitalism, free time takes the form of unemployment.

This is the absurd reason for the distress that people are in. This shows how unreasonable it is to always answer people with all their urgent necessities: I lost my job, so what I need is work. Yes, its true that you do in your blackmailed position, which is so damn stupid! But if you take a little distance, and ask: why do I actually need work? What is actually missing? Then you don't make yourself the idiot of the other side or do anything good for it.