on the need for luxury


Continuing with the discussion we begun on this post, Kropotkin argued that once the commune had provided food for everyone, luxury goods could then be sought for, but first we must provide food for everyone. 

He also argued that if every person who could work was engaged in productive work, a workday of 4 to 5 hours was sufficient to produce all our material needs and that the rest of the time could be spent in art, music and other hobbies. Thinking about this, I don’t see why with the advance in machine technology, most people work for so many hours a day and in some places keep two or three jobs just to make ends meat.

He argued at the same time that the commune had to provide housing and clothing to everyone. The rallying call was not just a right to work but a right to well being and in this is covered dignity in work, housing and shelter. And he says this will be done by the people themselves. He rules out committees of eminent citizens or loudmouths or whatever you want to call them.

My biggest question in all this is the practicability of it all. I think they were grand ideas, especially the short workdays ( and I think some countries are experimenting with this), social housing and dignified work; things we should aspire to even today.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

20 thoughts on “on the need for luxury

  1. This is certainly a ulilatarian concept. A benevolent one indeed. But it threatens ego driven need for more more more to prevalent in too many. Potty so many have to suffer as a result.

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    • makagutu says:

      Interesting you would say that. IN his view, even though we have a tendency to want to acquire things, it is mainly due to the environment we live in, where people buy things they don’t need. In an environment where you work for what you need, this may be checked

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  2. judyt54 says:

    My sense is, that like most utopian schemes, it flies on paper and yes it sounds elegant, but you are dealing with humans, who vary greatly in need, greed, and satisfaction levels.

    It is usually more complex than what is outlined, if you take into account children, education, health, careers, petty jealousies, or whatever an individual aims for. Utopian communities have been around for hundreds of years and most of them go belly up very quickly.

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    • makagutu says:

      You have raised very valid issues in this comment.
      If I was to respond to one, say education, I think it can be arranged that people studied what they liked.

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    • Swarn Gill says:

      I guess I wouldn’t say that these goals are necessarily utopian if we think of it as a direction to move in. What it requires is a change in value system. It’s not that there aren’t economic difficulties in countries like Sweden or Denmark, but when the goal is not economic success, but happiness, this changes the texture of what people spend their time striving for. I don’t think taking economic wealth out as a primary goal of a society necessarily prevents some people who want wealth to have it, but culturally they would be instilled with a greater sense of social responsibility and hopefully a sense that happiness and economic wealth are only weakly correlated. I also think that with emphasis on education and educational equality for all citizens this empowers people to find happiness in their interests over wealth. A certainly there were and are hunter-gatherer societies that don’t go belly up and have a much more egalitarian and communal sense of living. I don’t think Kropotkin’s ideas are new by any means.

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  3. Hmmm…. Nothing mentioned here about gassing and cremating the poor and disabled to make life easier for decent, wealthier people. Odd, that. Welp! Guess it’s up to me to put these ideas to work. Vote for IBTD1 in 2020! Vote to end poverty once ‘n fer all!

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  4. renudepride says:

    I can see this working for a situation where everyone is relatively content with the equal distribution of goods and necessities. But human nature being what it is, there are always those who demand and expect more because they are *entitled.* That is where the cracks begin in the foundation. Naked hugs!

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  5. I think we’re wired for competition, so in a world with limited resources there’s no way around us attempting to establish hierarchies.

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  6. Eric Alagan says:

    There will always be the pharaoh, there will always be the slaves. This is the human condition – a moving point on a circle. But very much confined to a circle. That explains why even with modern technology, the vast majority of us – work longer.

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