We coulda had SUMPthin’!

A long, fun holiday weekend. Many thoughts have come and gone, but one stuck for a bit… and I just looked up the data: Kerry spent $317.7 million, the Democratic Party $618 million, all demo candidates $406 mil (I assume that means another 90 million over Kerry’s number), then a bunch of 527s spent over $200 million… so roughly 1.25 BILLION DOLLARS was wasted on this recent election. I know a fair amount of that dough would only be made available to Democrats and people who wouldn’t really alter the way things are. But a mighty big chunk of that money was spent by people who know better, and dream of bigger changes. Before we’re all beaten down and cave in to the endless prattle about “reclaiming” the Democratic Party, what about using all that money to start a biting, fighting, no-holds-barred NATIONAL daily newspaper that spits and claws and insists on truth and won’t shut up? If Gannett could launch USA Today, why can’t the rich and well-enough-off who sunk so much money into NOTHING instead dedicate a portion of their financial largesse to launching a newspaper, a TV network, and more….. and not like that unbelievably lame Air America. It’s time to break with the Democrats for good and clearly stake out a territory with some intergrity and reliable commitment to the concerns of ordinary people.

Inside and Outside

This past Saturday the Hotel Workers of Local 2 (UNITE-HERE) reached some kind of tentative agreement with the 14 multinational hotel chains that had locked them out, allowing them to go back to work for 60 days, pending further negotiations. Friends of mine have been organizing a Sunday evening flying picket for the past few weeks, and had a direct action planned for Saturday afternoon, which was called off in the face of the news. The union itself had been rather difficult and resistant to the solidarity and help coming from the motley crew of radicals, trots, anarchists, and labor activists, highlighting the ever-present dilemma of who is ‘inside’ and who is ‘outside’ a social conflict. I had my own misgivings about the direct action planned for Saturday, but had planned to help in a support capacity.

Continue reading Inside and Outside

PreCog: Chainworkers and Brainworkers

I’ve been talking up this idea of the Precariat and the Cognitariat lately. Here’s a short excerpt from an article in the latest issue of Greenpepper magazine , a great publication out of Amsterdam, and well worth supporting. The issue is really good (not yet on-line, though back issues are), with a half dozen really interesting articles and a cool design. It’s one of those publications that reminds me of why I can still get excited by print media: stimulating, inspiring, and informative.

Mayday Mayday! Euro Flexworkers, Time To Get a Move On!
by Alex Foti

For two decades, neoliberalism has been first and foremost a system of labor precarization and deunionization at all levels of urban and suburban living. This has led to a precarious existence deprived of basic social rights for the majority of working women, youth and migrants. At the core of this process of neoliberal accumulation lies flexible and contingent labor by casualized workers in crucial reproductive and distribution services and in the knowledge, culture, and media industries that provide the raw material on which the system functions: information.

We, active temps of Italy, call ourselves PRECOG because we embody the precariat working in retail and service industries and the cognitariat of media and education industries. We are the producers of neoliberal wealth, we are the creators of knowledge, style and culture enclosed and appropriated by monopoly power.

We are the women in a feminized workforce and economy that nevertheless reserves to xx people more discriminatory pay and roles than to domineering xy people. We are the consumerized younger generation left out of the political and social design of gerontocratic and technocratic [modern life]. We are the first-generation [immigrants] coming from the five continents and, most crucially, the seven seas. We are the middle-aged being laid off from once secure jobs in industry and services.

We are the people that don’t have (and mostly don’t want) long-term jobs, and so are deprived of basic social rights such as maternity or sick leave or the luxury of paid holidays. We are hirable on demand, available on call, exploitable at will, and firable at whim, We are the precariat. The precariat is the sum of all the people with non-standard job forms that have the social standard around which collective life increasingly revolves. It is a condition of generalized social precarity and singularized job precariousness.

Chainworkers is the Milan-based organization where you can connect directly to some of the organizing going on in Europe.