just bringing more people into the labor force was NOT the idea

Steven Welzer
2 min readSep 18, 2023

https://www.counterpunch.org/2023/09/18/quick-thoughts-on-the-uaw-strike/

“ . . . there is nothing golden about a single-earner family. It is great that there are increased opportunities for women so that most are in the labor force.”

Here’s a different way of looking at it:

The idea was NOT to have both partners in a household working “in the labor force” full-time.

Until the recent shift toward an extent of work-at-home capability, full-time work outside the home involved about ten hours each day (eight hours of work plus prepping time, commuting time, decompression time).

During the 1960s, feminism raised the issue of life-task balances. The old-time single-bread-winner person had been relegated to a peripheral role vis-a-vis the household, the family, and the community. “Just go out and get the money.” The other person was relegated to roles involving over-domesticity.

During the 1970s we social changers did NOT say: “Let’s have women be full participants in the labor force.” We noticed that the “labor force,” for the most part, sucks. The idea of a new-fangled standard whereby households would contribute 80 hours of work to it rather than 40 … sucks a lot.

Here’s what the idea was: Fewer over-all hours of work in the labor force. 32 sounds OK. Divide that burden between the two household partners. Until the time when we fully deconstruct the Leviathan, 16 hours per-person of work for its dreary impersonal institutions sounds tolerable. If each partner works two 8-hour days for The Drear, well (until the time when we fully deconstruct the Leviathan) that seems pretty fair.

Most of our time should be spent paying attention to the household, the family, the community, and … the social change work of fully deconstructing the Leviathan.

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Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).