January 2003

When the ‘Manifesto against Labour’ was published in Germany, June 1999, the called « new economy » was just in the apex of its intoxication, financed by the Stock Exchange. The colossal valorization of the shares of stock had obnubilated the brains and incentivated an unreal and hysterical atmosphere of success, making believe that anyone could become rich overnight, as soon as he insists with enough proficiency. The university students in charge of the market advertising reach point of spread the rumor that capitalism had liberated himself from their own laws and from now on it could work without crisis.

At this moment it was not necessary, by the way, any type of specialized knowledge to recognize that these illusions settled on a gigantic effect of repression. While the guests lifted their champagne cups in the party where all those that continued being the winners of the world market met, there were more and more world population's sectors pushed toward the absolute misery, because of the simple fact that they become, as work force, unnecessary for the capital valorization. Most of the countries of the old « real socialism » had been almost completely misindustrialized and desolated, after ten years of supposed adaptation and of effective neoliberal deregulation. The hunger and the wars among the organized bands razed East big regions, as it happened in the globalized South. Even the « tigers » of the Asian Southeast had fallen obstreperously from the illusions throne of the world market.

There was a long time ago that the process of widespread crisis of the society based on Labour and in the production of goods became visible, also in the European Union, the United States and Japan. Since the eighties there were increasing considerably the phenomenons of social exclusion, and the massive unemployment was apparently controlled by "occupation programs" financed by the credit of large statistical manipulations or of the imposition of misery salaries and of coercive transfers toward the called "informal sector". Parallelly, in conscience and ideological elaboration level, it began to settle a fanaticism more and more aggressive around the idea of "work" that make the unemployed and other socially excluded citizens the guilty ones of their destination.

Meanwhile, the ghastly image of a capitalism crisis free is today empirically denied, even to the eyes of the big authors of the repression. It was enough the implosion of a relatively small part of the speculative bubble (the great "crash" of the world exchange stocks is close, but it didn't still happen) to take the world economy to a recession whose social consequences are every time more and more clear, even in the capitalist centers. Just when some of the winners of the "new economy" stopped from get the good salaries they received, to become unemployed, the systems of social protection began to be progressively dismantled and the work market was strongly deregulated. Naturally, the concrete effects vary from one country to another, according to its position in the hierarchy of the world market, and to its trajectory from the point of view of the mentalities history. There is no doubt that as much the proslavery identification with the work as the aggression against all those who don't want or cannot work are phenomenons more usual in Germany that in countries like Portugal, Italy or Brazil. On the other hand, the reaction to the work crisis is, in general, the same in the entire world. With the work collapse, become the foundation of the capitalist society collapse, originating a fundamentalism of the work, with a markedly religious stamp that seeks to save what cannot be saved, not even by force.

There is no an effective masses protest against this whole situation until today, It is true that the movement against globalization articulated, for the first time in a long time, a renovated social resistance that wakes up some hopes, mainly due to their transnational character. But in fact that resistance continues basically as a prey of the categories of the society, work and merchandise, as some of its new positions prove, for example, the return to the state regulation of the market relationships or the control over the financial markets. These recoveries, and others of the same nature don’t produce practical effects, because they no longer have any economic foundation, neither they reveal, in their principles, ideologically compatible with an authoritarian administration of the crisis. Eventually with resources measured by forced work -although it is not the will of most of the movement activists. There is not way to avoid the question: today, when the system based on the production of goods reaches its historical limit and enters in its self-destruction phase, there will not be social emancipation without a radical critic of the work. For that reason, it has become more gratifying the strong echo that this Manifesto has found in the last years. Not only in Germany, but also in other countries, it has been actively discussed in circles of opposition. Meanwhile, it has been translated to seven languages (see you: and published in Brazil, France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. We hope also in Portugal it can contribute to a necessary radical renovation of the criticism of the society.

(Editorial Antígona, translation from German: José Paulo Vaz, revised by José M. Justo)

Translation from Portuguese to Spanish for Pimienta Negra: Round Desk.