Daniel Bell, the labor editor of Fortune and a former editor of The New Leader, modestly calls his little essay “notes on work … [tied together] by a mood, and some questions.” Indeed, had he elaborated on all the ideas with which these “notes” are crammed, he might have written a full-fledged “philosophy of labor.” The concentration of his thesis into a sequence of brilliantly antithetical statements rewards the reader with elegant fireworks which vainly try to conceal the profundity of the intellectual effort underneath. Nor, for that matter, does graceful presentation ever interfere with one reader’s awareness that Mr. Bell actually is handling dynamite.
For his “questions” attack the basic myth of our society—that the value of work, its cost to society, is measured by its “efficiency,” its cost to the user. Erich Fromm has recently dealt with the social and human cost of industrial labor which cost ...
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