At the Anarchist Bookfair at the weekend I picked up a book called Making Stuff and Doing Things. Among the collection of useful bits and pieces was an article by CrimethInc about getting active. Point 2 — spend less to work less! — really spoke to me. That’s what I’m trying to do at the moment: reduce my costs so I don’t have to work full-time and have more time to do the things that I want to do.
This raises questions about what counts as ‘work’. I don’t get paid for the time I put in at the allotment (which at least in theory frees up cash as I don’t have to spend so much on food), and I enjoy it; but it’s physically tough (especially today as I spent yet another hour hacking away at the Blackberry Tangle). I’ve just started a (paid) part-time job teaching cycling; something which I enjoy enough and think is important enough that in the past I’ve done it for free. I do various volunteer things that don’t attract payment but are certainly ‘work’ in another sense (I do some sysadmin work, which in the past I’ve been paid for, for free at the moment).
Feeding into this is perhaps the idea that ‘women’s work’ tends to be undervalued. Growing things, making things, handcrafts, helping others, teaching… often, these things are not defined as ‘work’. Unless you make money at it, anyway, in which case it may qualify as work. Of course, it’s still more likely to be taken seriously if you’re male.
I find myself wanting to broaden the idea of ‘work’, and to blur the boundaries between that and ‘play’. The CrimethInc article above is fundamentally saying something a lot like that: take yourself out of the traditional paid-labour market (as far as is possible), and support yourself by doing other sorts of work. Support yourself directly rather than with paid labour. Work out how to make that sustainable. Create an alternative that doesn’t fit into that old joke about work being the unpleasant things you’re paid to do.
That’s my sort of anarchism.