In this major new book, Andre Gorz expands on the political implications of his prescient and influential Paths to Paradise and Critique of Economic Reason. Against the background of technological developments which have transformed the nature of work and the structure of the workforce, Gorz explores the new political agendas facing both left and right. Each is in disarray: the right, torn between the demands of capital and the ‘traditional values’ of its supporters, can only offer illusory solutions, while the left either capitulates to these or remains tempted by regressive, ‘fundamentalist’ projects inappropriate to complex modern societies. Identifying the grave risks posed by a dual society with a hyperactive minority of full-time workers confronting a silenced majority who are, at best, precariously employed, Gorz proposes a new definition of a key social conflict within Western societies in terms of the distribution of work and the form and content of non-working time.
Taking into account changing cultural attitudes to work, he re-examines socialism’s historical project—which, he contends, has always properly been to lay down the rules and limits within which economic raitonality may be permitted to function, not to create some statist, productivist countersystem. Above all, he offers a vital fresh perspective for the left, whose objective, in his view, must be to extend the sphere to autonomous human activity, and increase the possibilities for individual self-fulfilment.