In the Autumn 1957 DISSENT, Henri Rabasseire continued his attack on the Protestant work ethic which he had started with his fine piece “The Right to be Lazy” in Winter 1956. I am in full agreement with him that it is more important to increase our ability to enjoy life than to maintain an ethic which has become a mere justification for the drudgery of others. He is right too in his critical remarks on the role of the Protestant ethic in the history of the socialist movement. He is, however, mistaken in maintaining that Marx was “entirely on the side of Protestants.” One reader, at least, has the suspicion that Rabasseire has been carried away by his desire to be a heretic in socialist circles. He uses Marx as a bate noire, though in an unusual manner. Yet the present fashion of Marx-baiting is no less meaningless than the older Marxist habit of replacing arguments with Marx quotations.
This suspicion seems to be justified because Rabasseire himself has coyly confessed in the Winter 1956 issue that after his attention had been drawn to the passage in Capital, vol. III, where Marx wrote that the realm of freedom lies beyond the realm of material production proper, he seemed to his regret less here...
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