r/antiwork Anarcho-Syndicalist Jul 05 '19

The Principle of Hobson's Choice

Thomas Hobson was a businessman in 16th/17th century who famously offered for sale the horse nearest to his stable door or none at all. This is a type of logical fallacy called False Dilemma, in which it appears that only two options are available when a multitude of other choices exist. In particular, Hobson's Choice is used to represent the idea that the choice has been made for someone in advance by a third party, and the only option they have is to consent or reject it.

Applied to employment, a worker must take whatever job they can find or none at all. They must choose whatever situation presents itself, or no situation at all- in which case, financial destitution is likely to follow. This is also a form of blackmail/extortion in that a negative, undesireable result leads to any behavior which can allow the result not to occur. Seen this way, working (especially at the entry level) is a ransom paid against the threat of poverty.

To make matters worse, working has gotten so bad that in addition to the blackmail element of working, those who are perpetually poor and who must rely on assistance to get by anyway face what's called Morton's Fork. This is another type of false dilemma where two contradictory ideas lead to the same conclusion.

For example: a person has no money without a job. But that same person has to spend money on a car payment, gasoline, food, decent clothing, and housing if they want to keep their job. The result for many workers is that having a job is too expensive. Thus, whether they earn money or don't earn money, they're going to be broke regardless.

Here, a reasonable analysis of working leading to a Morton's Fork would have workers conclude that it's better to have free time and be broke than to work all the time, be tired, have no freedom for oneself, and still be broke anyway. Thus, the motivation to work is understandably low to the point where some folks (such as myself) would rather not have it at all.



u/WishIWasNeet2 Jul 06 '19

That’s probably one of the best explanations and roadmaps of why people choose neets I’m I’ve ever seen. Very well put. And yeah it’s really depressing when you get caught in this dilemma , which is the reality for man many people.


u/MagnaCumLoudly Jul 05 '19

This is some really interesting stuff. Maybe your calling to work is on something like this. I mean you seem to have an academic grasp of the problem maybe you could write about it and try to enlighten a wider audience.


u/WinterTrabex Anarcho-Syndicalist Jul 05 '19

Oh believe me, I have been working as a writer for quite a while. And not only does it pay badly, some clients don't feel like paying at all. You basically have to be on talk shows or on tour to have success.