Our Collective Fixation on Productivity Is Older Than You Think - Deepstash

James Suzman's book titled Work: A Deep History, From the Stone Age to the Age of Robots examines our fixation with being productive, diving into the reason we are working hard in the first place.

Modern work, according to the author, is analogous with farming, which fundamentally changed our relationship with time, land, history and each other.



The earlier hunter-gatherers were working less but it was by itself a satisfying means to an end, as their work fed them all and required nerves, energy, intelligence and agility. Much like a sport, they were relaxed and able to enjoy afterwards.

They were tough, adaptive and rustic, tuned with their environment which was routinely hostile.


When people started the farming activity, it was a full-time job with constant issues that needed their attention: lack of water, bugs, bad weather etc.

The concept of dependency, scarcity and surplus became known to man after decades of trial and error with crop failures and weather cycles.


It was only when people started seeing scarcity and the various vulnerabilities and risks with farming did they start to value history and the concept of time. They learned to diversify their farming investment so that poor rainfall or too much of it does not spoil all of their efforts.

Farming changed the concept of engaging with the world where the value of something can increase or decrease with scarcity or surplus, something no one had ever thought of before.



The worldview of work, for instance, has changed drastically, with concepts like universal basic income finding mainstream acceptance and even trial runs.

The productivity-obsessed cycle is now on the verge of being broken, as 21st Century capitalism has issues about inequality and wastage of produce, which are worse than imagined.


While countryside people focus on producing, metro cities have experts for handling the expenditure of energy using the power of money. The rich are using capitalism to attain maximum power, success and wealth, always striving for more.

The advertising industry continues to push in our throats the things we don’t need, as many people have started to see the whole ecosystem rearing its ugly head.


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