Veblen on noticeably not working on Labour Day

A day of vicarious leisure has in some communities been set apart as Labor Day. This observance is designed to augment the prestige of the fact of labour, by the archaic, predatory method of a compulsory abstention from useful effort. To this datum of labour-in-genera is imputed the good repute attributable to the pecuniary strength put in evidence by abstaining from labour.

Meaning: in order to assert the dignity of labour the workers have to do occasionally what the barbaric upper classes that live by other people’s work do all the time – namely be visibly idle. No better way of doing that than grab some flags and placards and make some noise in the streets.

More on Veblen’s theory of recognition here 

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