This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture


In praise of idleness

This Magazine Staff

I’m taking a media holiday for the next few weeks. No papers in particular, and as little internet as possible. Blogging will be occasional and seasonal. To get things started:
First of all: what is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. The second kind is capable of indefinite extension: there are not only those who give orders, but those who give advice as to what orders should be given. Usually two opposite kinds of advice are given simultaneously by two organized bodies of men; this is called politics. The skill required for this kind of work is not knowledge of the subjects as to which advice is given, but knowledge of the art of persuasive speaking and writing, i.e. of advertising.
That’s Bertrand Russell, in a classic essay. Here’s the rest of it.

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