The dangerous doctrine of "The Strenuous Life"

Patrick Sullivan explains why the doctrine of "The Strenuous Life" is unhealthy and meant to keep people in their "place".

Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor
On 19 October 2019 01:00

There is a fundamental problem with how society and the business community-at-large has presented the very idea of work since the industrial revolution.  


Former US President Theodore Roosevelt, once extolled the virtues of what he called “The Strenuous Life”. 


It is popular fallacy that struggling for the sake of struggling, is a virtue, in and of itself. This is however, unfortunately, the mentality which has permeated through and dominated the popular mindset. 


In a rare moment of agreement with Karl Marx I think that there is something in the Marxist argument that certain narratives such as their being virtue in struggling through work are part of a “false consciousness” promotes by those Marx would refer to as “the owners of the means of production”  


If the workers were to consider their work as an end within itself, instead of as a means to an end, it would serve to reduce the focus on improving standards of living and prevent the use of General Well-Being as a barometer by which the workforce would measure its progress! It also kept workers on jobs they hated.  


The Titans of Industry certainly did not live by the code of conduct that they propagated to their workforce. The Rockefeller’s and the Vanderbilt’s certainly did not live as if they believed in “The Strenuous Life.” Their lives were anything, but strenuous.  


A modern Titan of Industry, who stands up for the little guy against the elites, is the author of the best-selling business book of all time, the present President of the United States, Donald J. Trump! 


The President has been extolling the virtues of loving what you do, since before he built Trump Tower and I have found these three quotations to serve as an effective antidote to the poison that is “The Strenuous Life”: 


“If you’re interested in ‘balancing’ work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead, make your work more pleasurable”  

“If you love what you do, if you love going to the office. If you really like it - it keeps you energised.”  

“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” 


Patrick Sullivan is the Political Editor of The Commentator @PatJSullivan

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