Hey Chris…great that you have a blog, but …
Comment posted Riverbend by Bernard.
Hey Chris…great that you have a blog, but do you think any liberals are reading it? and if they did they would roll up their sleeves and run to the courthouse (as they are). NOW the Lefties, ah that’s a different story…they will run to their nearest cafe and order a double!
I just talked to a Frenchie who thinks that we (lefties) must all be drowning in drink here . . . am I just too cynical to care?
No, I think being at Inkworks and seeing the jobs come in affords me a privileged view of the amount of work and effort that people (I guess they are lefties) are putting into, not bashing Bush, but creating a viable community of oppostion in all sorts of areas. One only hopes that it achieves more clarity along the way. See you at one or more of your readings!
“the next round is on me” – Bernard
Recent comments by Bernard
- In the Trenches with General Intellect
I don’t know. When I meet a millennialist I want to reach for my (virtual, or verbal) revolver. Much better is Nick Dyer-Witheford’s recent book “Cyber-Marx” (more here: http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?GeneralIntellect).
As Chris says: “Actually the good life is there to be produced, but not as isolated individuals. It’s only something we can do together.”
That’s the rub. The ruling class got us by our genitalia when we least expected it… at the take off of the industrial age. There we was in factories, mills and whatnot, breaking our backs and hating it, and the bosses. And just when we rose up to take them by their fat necks (1848?) they tricked us and sent us off running after an illusion: democracy.
Democracy – the millennialism of the ruling class served up for our enjoyment, and like all addictions, stupid, happy enslavement.
This is the rub: when we was all together being miserable at work and with no illusions, but only the bloody wish to get from under the rule of the bosses, that’s when we had real power. That’s when we could have made revolutionary change.
Now we have shit jobs, no solidarity but lattes to show for our miserable (virtual) lives. In other words, anarcho-syndicalism may have been our best chance to take over.
What would a post-anarcho-syndicalism look like?
Is it good paying jobs at Wal-Mart, Starbucks? Give me a break.
What would a post-General Strike look like? Or a virtual General Strike?
No lattes? No games?
We got a problem.
But I don’t want to be depressive here. Anyway it’s not my nature. Maybe Mason is right – we know more. And maybe the bleak future for most will have the effect of shattering illusions. Over and over again. Occupy one, two, three? All different. All helping to sweep away the shards to uncover the beach, as someone once said.
Keep on pedaling Chris,
- Jobs Don’t Work!
The “Bifo” quote seems to me to apply to a narrow range of “˜employables’ ““ those trained for a technical niche in the economy that they “˜identify’ with ““ let’s say production animators (to take an extreme example for which I have no “˜inside’ knowledge) but who having actually secured jobs in that sector of pseudo-creativity discover that they have entered into a factory by another name. They accept the trade-off ““ work instead of a dream (fantasy?) ““ and probably even defend their choice on the basis that they are not utopians (naÃ¯ve?). Their personal choice may be motivated by Bifo’s perceptions, but that presumes a level of expectation (consciousness?) I seriously doubt exists. Maybe it exists in Europe. Maybe it even existed in this country 40 years ago, but I see lots of evidence of its non-existence. In other words cynicism is dominant in all professional or technical job choices.
The non-profits and some of the “˜care’ professions sweep up those who have managed to either maintain, or to cultivate, a consciously oppositional ethic to the dominant drive for financial success. We could call this the secondary function of social amelioration the non-profits perform beyond their specific agendas.
Jason Smith’s comment: “Work is a matter of discipline, the production of docility” ““ leaves me stunned by its banality. What pray tell was the factory system all about from its inception? Doesn’t he know that the early manufacturers could not keep a work force bound to their machines until they closed off all alternatives to the factory? The enclosures, baby. Look it up. Slums and factories and starvation wages were a package deal for the workers of the 19th century.
Regarding Lisa Dodson’s Moral Underground (she will be speaking at UC Berkeley Labor Center, 2521 Channing Way, Berkeley, Tues, Sept 21, 2010 12:00 noon ““ a free event and was also interviewed on KPFA Sunday Sept 19 9am): one must applaud an academic who illuminates the semi-subversive response by a few people in authority to the moral outrage of damnable work rules, but where is the equivalent of Walker C. Smith who wrote Sabotage 1 that documented the class war assault of workers on their immediate conditions of debasement?
Lastly, I agree that the real alternative to jobs and the lack of real work means a redistribution of wealth and this can be both a revolutionary demand ““ I fondly dream of storming the mansions of the rich (maybe the next Critical Mass?) ““ and a reformist program vis-Ã¡-vis the tax system. I don’t have the exact figures at hand, but after the Second World War the rich were taxed at rates that now seem like some sort of Bolshevik wet dream. I think that the top tax bracket was in the 90% range. Of course the very rich increasingly managed to elude these rates along with buying off Congress to lower them to the ridiculous percentage of under 30%.
To call for jobs without at the same time calling for a redistribution of wealth simply means that the class war needs an offensive campaign against the very successful onslaughts on workers by the rich.
But I want to suggest that a demand beyond the redistribution of the wealth ““ even its radical redistribution ““ needs to be supported.
Climate change implies a series of decisions that contradict the very basis of modern capitalism. This assertion may seem extravagant, given the widely celebrated attempt by a huge coalition of labor and environmental organizations to support a Green New Deal. This is not the place to delve into what I perceive to be the utter futility of this endeavor, as it is presently constituted.
Very briefly, I believe that the US, which does mean us, cannot continue to endorse growth of the economy even if tomorrow we all had solar on our roofs and electric vehicles available at the corner for our free access. No matter what alternatives we come up with will require natural resources, and all resources are in short supply if, IF, we expect that the rest of the world emerges from extreme poverty.
All industrialized countries need to de-grow their economies, and fast. I see no alternative to that.
How does this all fit in with the question of jobs? On the most basic level, jobs require resource use over and above the resources needed to sustain our lives, and a growing world population. We can think “smart” about the waste associated with capitalist development and come up with all sorts of scenarios that limit the use of those resources, nonetheless the issue that needs to be addressed is how to avoid a catastrophic breakdown of the distribution of those resources.
To just raise one obvious example ““ agriculture (where speculation already drives poverty). Mega-scale agribusiness cannot continue to thrive given the twin crises of resource decline and extreme weather conditions that will increasingly affect world food production.
Thankfully this scenario motivates thousands of activists across the global to create the conditions for a truly sustainable agriculture. One that is local, resilient to microclimate change, cultivated in the crevices of the built environment and, significantly, needing major labor time as it must be labor intensive to function on the scale that will feed millions. I don’t envision my current miniscule garden feeding me beyond the salad course for a few days and my local community garden, a few hundred feet from my front door, won’t help much either.
A de-growth economy requires significant rethinking of all the basic assumptions as Chris’s comment about jobs that we need filled addresses.
And lastly, I believe that an essential aspect of the necessary re-thinking pertains to the current association of jobs with income. Income needs to be separated from jobs. As a birthright a sum that provides a modest life-style needs to be established. For some this might be sufficient to pursue a frugal life of personal enrichment, but for others it will simply be a basic income upon which we add a remunerative endeavor. A guaranteed income, it is assumed, will see a mass exodus from the workaholic pursuits that Bifo defines as sociopathic, and possibly re-eroticize our existence.
And since we face a future now of 10% unemployment as the new normal, what is so terrible about splitting jobs between several people each working part-time. The New Economics group in the UK has just issued a paper on the 21-hour workweek2 as an innovative policy proposal.
I don’t presume to conclude that this proposal solves all our problems. The major drawback to it is its statist assumptions. And the only way I can see to address that contradiction is to re-communize (tax) all basic resources and distribute the proceeds to address human needs, not corporate greed.
- The US Social Forum in Detroit
Great report Chris! … and made all the better with photo documentation. As you say, the downside of this event is that there is a tendency for “gangs to hang together” … but as I understand, some efforts were made to have certain “gangs” actually move out of their “hoods” and think beyond, for example, “We Want Jobs” B/S to think about some control OVER their jobs, and hopefully therefore more meaningful ones.
JASecon (www.jasecon.org) participated in workshops that offered Worker Cooperatives as an effective alternative for economic justice advocates. One new area where W-C’s becomes a practical alternative is in education. As I understand ten public schools in Milwaukee are set up as staff-run – AND they are UNION! They range from pre-school to High School. Of course, in the SF Bay area we have a 30 year old “alternative” (how long before an experiment, becomes simply FACT?) with the staff-run Maybeck HS in Berkeley.
The issue of race cannot be simply dismissed as evidence of “guilt” absolution in these circumstances, as race often stands for class. That’s why the focus on The Boggs Center and of course the legendary Grace Lee needs to be emphasized. She articulates what many of us have been saying for some time, but she has the “gravitas” to give these ideas the coherence (as historically relevant) that we “fringe-types” cannot muster… even with our gray hairs!
What next? One cannot hide today from the enormous challenge we all face. Not only are we facing a crisis that threatens our existence (we who grew up in the Age of Bomb Shelter practice have been to this kiosk before), we are also deprived of responses on our part that propel immediate recognition. Yes we can refer to the “Bolivians” among us, but frankly who will understand what we are talking about? And yes we can say that grassroots efforts are happening all over and foretell a new way of life, but frankly again, is this delusion? Are we simply becoming “POST-MODERN PEASANTS” ??? Are we, in other words, creating our own exuberant, but minimally subsistent, existences and saving the ruling class the trouble of incarcerating us?
The ballet we need to perform gladly won’t be to leninist martial music, or any other brand of musical misery, but to the free-spirited, spontaneous and improvised music best illustrated by Jazz luminaries. Ornette Coleman and Isodora Duncan embraced by sound waves across time, as we continue to devise ways to make practical attempts to eroticize our projects so that, as Boggs says, we attain a more revelatory expression of our humanity.
- Ruminating on Nowtopia
Great post Chris. The hidden gardens of SF need a tour guide. And thanks for the mention of our JASeconomy Festival. We think that this is the first of its kind anywhere and since you have readers all over creation we would be delighted to hear that we are wrong about that.
I would suggest that your readers go to the JASecon site (www.jasecon.org) and click on the News@Analysis link. We try to update significant developments of a nowtopian sort there. We got a super response to the article by John Curl on the 1930′s precursors of the Nowtopians, the members of the Unemployed Exchange Association (UXA). Curl’s completely revised and expanded history of the cooperative movement, For All the People, will soon be released by PM Press.
- Scattered Thoughts from eastern N. America
Hey Chris, who pays the bills at the Toronto incubator, “Centre for Social Innovation”?
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