Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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Previous Section   286. THE VALUE OF LABOUR   Next Section

The Value of Labour.  If we try to determine the value of labour by the amount of time, industry, good or bad will, constraint, inventiveness or laziness, honesty or make believe bestowed upon it, the valuation can never be a just one.  For the whole personality would have to be thrown into the scale, and this is impossible.  Here the motto is, "Judge not”!  But after all the cry for justice is the cry we now hear from those who are dissatisfied with the present valuation of labour.  If we reflect further we find every person non responsible for his product, the labour; hence merit can never be derived therefrom, and every labour is as good or as bad as it must be through this or that necessary concatenation of forces and weaknesses, abilities and desires.  The worker is not at liberty to say whether he shall work or not, or to decide how he shall work.  Only the standpoints of usefulness, wider and narrower, have created the valuation of labour.  What we at present call justice does very well in this sphere as a highly refined utility, which does not only consider the moment and exploit the immediate opportunity, but looks to the permanence of all conditions, and thus also keeps in view the well being of the worker, his physical and spiritual contentment: in order that he and his posterity may work well for our posterity and become trustworthy for longer periods than the individual span of human life.  The exploitation of the worker was, as we now understand, a piece of folly, a robbery at the expense of the future, a jeopardisation of society.  We almost have the war now, and in any case the expense of maintaining peace, of concluding treaties and winning confidence, will henceforth be very great, because the folly of the exploiters was very great and long lasting.  

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