Beware the time trap. The idea of having more time for oneself is extremely appealing, but be wary of those who turn this into private time. We need more social time. We do need to engage more with politics. Let our sofa not be our fate.
“Italy is a Democratic Republic founded on work”, the country’s Constitution says. As a fact, Italy is founded on precarious work. For decades, our social tissue has been lacerated by precarious contracts, and prime minister Giorgia Meloni made the situation even worse with her “labour day decree“, curtailing limitations to temporary jobs.
Since the pandemic, work from home has also spread. Even those who have a stable contract are now working as though they are hired on performance-based pay. Colleagues meet less; their ability to resist inequality at work is weakened. In Rome, food delivery workers sleep on grassy roundabouts between jobs. Rights slip away from us. Slavery is now 2.0.
Will the four-day week really bring back a balance between the 99 percent and the increasingly rich one percent? It depends on the meaning we give to our free hours. Speaking to crowds protesting against plans to raise the retirement age to 64, French left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon said we should not merchandise our lifetime. I do agree, but should we conclude we just need more “private time”, as Mélenchon calls it?
We should also resist the privatisation of time: we are deserting cinemas and shared cultural experiences because everyone has their own Netflix. We are no longer joining parties because politicians have given up representing us. Instead of going to restaurants, we order meals with an app. Do you feel freer or lonelier? Let’s take back our time together. Let’s go back to union meetings. Let’s take back politics. Let’s get angry about climate change. Time is worth nothing if we don’t take back hope.