Essay In Idleness Summary

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Every one knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. Before advancing my own arguments for laziness, I must dispose of one which I cannot accept.

Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. Whenever a person who already has enough to live on proposes to engage in some everyday kind of job, such as school-teaching or typing, he or she is told that such conduct takes the bread out of other people’s mouths, and is, therefore, wicked.

Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so.

The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

The net result of the man’s economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings.

Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it on drink or gambling.

As long as a man spends his income he puts just as much bread into people’s mouths in spending as he takes out of other people’s mouths in earning.

The real villain, from this point of view, is the man who saves.

But although my conscience has controlled my have undergone a revolution.

I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.


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