I can’t quite remember where I came across this article, but I’ve subscribed to the online magazine that it’s from, as it seems interesting.
The article itself explores, in quite a dense way, the psychological and societal aspects of labour, particularly in terms a capitalist framework. The author, Timofei Gerber, who is co-founder and co-editor of Epoché Magazine, argues that workers are alienated from the productive part of their labour. This leads to a cycle of dissatisfaction and unfulfilled potential.
Workers' alienation, he argues, is rooted in societal structures that prohibit the free flow of libidinal, or life-affirming, energy. Society therefore perpetuates a cycle of anxiety, deadness, and aggression, which further disconnects individuals from their creative and productive selves.
Well, I mean, it’s a theory. Reading this article felt a lot like reading Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, to be honest. A slog. 🥱
The desire of individuals to be productive, to be free and to be responsible for their lives, rejects all models of control, all hierarchy, all suppression. The individual that experiences pleasure, that is productive, is productive in all aspects of its life, it takes responsibility for its actions, and is therefore a very insubordinate subject. We have seen how our concept of labour is built on the model of hunger, and what consequences that has. The prohibition of pleasure has therefore but one function: to produce obedient subjects, which do not question the current order, and which do not desire to change the world. As the model of sexuality is rejected, the only accepted way towards satisfaction is based on the model of hunger: the constant need to fill the emptiness inside by succumbing to consumer society. It is for this reason that for Reich, the liberation of sexuality was of primary importance. It is true that people hunger and are suffering materially; but the reason for this does not originate from the sphere of hunger, it is not a physical necessity. Scarcity itself is artificially produced, an artificial hunger and emptiness that results from the blockage of the inherent productivity of life. And we accept this state of things because of our pleasure anxiety, because we are afraid of our own responsibility and freedom.
Source: Wilhelm Reich on Pleasure and the Genesis of Anxiety | Epoché Magazine