The emotional leap was only a question of time. Historically, people went to work because they had to. What they did after work was designated as "pleasure". Now, both work and leisure were pleasurable - or torturous - or both. Some people began to enjoy their work so much that it fulfilled functions normally reserved to leisure time. They are workaholics. Others continued to hate work - but felt disorientated in new, leisure-like environment. They were not taught to deal with too much free time, a lack of framework, no clear instructions what to do, when, with whom and to what end.
Socialization processes and socialization agents (the State, parents, educators, employers) were not geared - nor did they regard it as their responsibility - to train population to cope with free time and with baffling and dazzling variety of options on offer.
We can classify economies and markets using work-leisure axis. Those that maintain old distinction between (hated) work and (liberating) leisure - are doomed to perish or, at best, radically lag behind. This is because they will not have developed a class of workaholics big enough to move economy ahead.
It takes workaholics to create, maintain and expand capitalism. As opposed to common opinion, people, mostly, do not do business because they are interested in money (the classic profit motive). They do what they do because they like Game of Business, its twists and turns, brainstorming, battle of brains, subjugating markets, ups and downs, excitement. All this has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with psychology. True, money serves to measure success - but it is an abstract meter, akin to monopoly money. It is proof shrewdness, wit, foresight, stamina, and insight.
Workaholics identify business with pleasure. They are hedonistic and narcissistic. They are entrepreneurial. They are managers and businessmen and scientists and journalists. They are movers, shakers, pushers, energy.
Without workaholics, we would have ended up with "social" economies, with strong disincentives to work. In these economies of "collective ownership" people go to work because they have to. Their main preoccupation is how to avoid it and to sabotage workplace. They harbour negative feelings. Slowly, they wither and die (professionally) - because no one can live long in hatred and deceit. Joy is an essential ingredient of survival.
And this is true meaning of capitalism: abolition of artificial distinction between work and leisure and pursuit of both with same zeal and satisfaction. Above all, (increasing) liberty to do it whenever, wherever, with whomever you choose.
Unless and until Homo East Europeansis changes his state of mind - there will be no real transition. Because transition happens in human mind much before it takes form in reality. It is no use to dictate, to legislate, to finance, to cajole, or to bribe. It was Marx (a devout non-capitalist) who said: it is consciousness that determines reality. How right was he. Witness prosperous USA and compare it to miserable failure that was communism.
From an Interview I Granted
Question: In your article, Workaholism, Leisure and Pleasure, you describe how line between leisure and work has blurred over time. What has allowed this to happen? What effect does this blurring have on struggle to achieve a work-life balance?
Answer: The distinction between work and leisure times is a novelty. Even 70 years ago, people still worked 16 hours a day and, many of them, put in 7 days a week. More than 80% of world's population still live this way. To majority of people in developing countries, work was and is life. They would perceive contrast between "work" and "life" to be both artificial and perplexing. Sure, they dedicate time to their families and communities. But there is little leisure left to read, nurture one's hobbies, introspect, or attend classes.
Leisure time emerged as a social phenomenon in twentieth century and mainly in industrialized, rich, countries.
Workaholism - blurring of boundaries between leisure time and time dedicated to work - is, therefore, simply harking back to recent past. It is inevitable outcome of a confluence of a few developments:
(1) Labour mobility increased. A farmer is attached to his land. His means of production are fixed. His markets are largely local. An industrial worker is attached to his factory. His means of production are fixed. Workers in services or, more so, in knowledge industries are attached only to their laptops. They are much more itinerant. They render their services to a host of geographically distributed "employers" in a variety of ways.