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.

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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.

I Heart Culture War!

Saw that movie last night I (heart) Huckabees. It’s got some moments that were fun. I liked it overall, but of course that’s in the context of going to any mass market movie with extremely low expectations. A couple of friends had given me reason to believe that I would enjoy this, and they were right.

There’s two main things I liked about it. One, it’s a fluffy cannonball in the Culture War and as such, probably makes a bunch of dejected liberals and even a few rads feel better these days. The scene at the Christian dinner table was clearly written by someone who is completely fed up with the idiotic “discourse” of the Xtian Right. It was momentarily satisfying to have the Mark Wahlberg character tell the family’s patriarch he was a hyprocite and then to shut the fuck up as he blathered on in his well-acted self-righteous hypocrisy.

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