That doesn’t make any sense.
Leisure, obviously, existed before modern industry. It existed before hominids evolved. Animals rest and play. You can’t simply equate leisure, rest and recreation in general, with recreational shopping, which depends upon urbanization and market economies.
The novel situation is that wealth production has continued to increase at an exponential rate, while mean income has stopped increasing. In the US, per capita production has more than doubled since the mid-1970s, but per capita mean income, which historically followed a similar growth curve, suddenly stopped changing in 1973. Worse, income has been redistributed so that everyone but the very rich have been losing income.
Something very strange is going on, economically. Something unprecedented. There’s immiseration without resistance, and while there’s been a great deal of attention to the mechanics of immiseration, I think that there’s much less attention paid to the lack of resistance. There were plenty of arguments in the 19th century against establishing the eight-hour day, when twelve- and sixteen-hour days were the norm, and yet many ordinary people struggled bravely for the eight-hour day, and won. Why aren’t we fighting for the four-hour day now?
I was reading a discussion, elsewhere, of the artistic development of computer games, which included the comment that while it may be true that even the best computer game narratives remain trapped in adolescent fantasies, it’s striking that in broader popular culture, fantasy, science fiction, and narratives aimed at young adults have become the dominant genres in literature and film, overwhelmingly. The thought that crosses my mind is that the arguments that computer games encourage acts of violence is nearly the opposite of the truth. What’s happening is that fantasies of individual heroism displace visions of collective struggle. We know, even as we play Skyrim or read Harry Potter, that these are wildly implausible, that isolated individuals can’t change the world that way. But we’re imagining what we know is impossible, and not thinking about, or remembering, the sort of popular, collective struggles that have made real change – such as the decades of struggle to build labor movements and win the eight-hour day.