Manufacturers are shedding jobs around the industrial world. Germany lost more than a fifth of its factory jobs from 1991 to 2007, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, about the same share as the United States. Japan — the manufacturing behemoth of the 1980s — lost a third.
This was partly because of China’s arrival on the world scene after it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Since then, China has gained nearly 40 million factory jobs. But something else happened too: companies across the developed world invested in labor-saving technology.
The Promise of Today’s Factory Jobs
By EDUARDO PORTER
New York Times
Published: April 3, 2012
The Puritan presumption that 'the devil makes work for idle hands' is not just repressive, but also completely misdescribes human nature and culture at the start of this century. We already have bountiful evidence that our play can add value in a multitude of ways, indeed, the grandest sciences now subvert the very tenets of Puritan self-loathing, that hatred of human fecundity which makes it such an opponent of play. John Calvin once memorably put it:
"If God had formed us out of the stuff of the sun and the stars, more if he had created any other celestial matter out of which man could have been made, then we might have said that our beginning was honourable… But we are all made of mud, and this mud is not just the hem of our gown, or on the sole of our boots, or in our shoes. We are full of it, we are nothing but mud and filth both inside and outside."
Yet as Theodore Roszak points our contemporary cosmology and biology tells us that we were precisely 'formed of the stuff of the sun or stars'. Within the Puritan logic, it follows that our material beginnings are deeply 'honourable'. To play is to express that honour, through fecundity and diversity. The challenge of shaping new institutions around our playful natures must stem from a deep shift in our evaluation of our human potential.
From filth and mud, as it were, to sun and stars.
So to escape from the Puritan mindset is the essential task. The question of how we establish the grounds of play then becomes a matter of political innovation and collective design. A social wage is at least worth exploring as an element of that grounding.
The Play Ethic