The Precariat is infuriatingly interesting. Its author Guy Standing, a Professor of Economic Security at the University of Bath, has set out to explain the rise of a new class, “the precariat”, and explore the social/political implications of this ‘class-in-the-making’. The Precariat’s originality lies in the journey which Standing takes the reader on. Standing’s start point is simple enough; his understanding that we cannot return to a mythical Keynesian capitalist Golden Age where (nearly) everyone had a decent job. Although the journey can be challenging and takes some unexpected directions, Standing has written a book that is vital to understanding the workings of contemporary global economy. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: October 2011
I had great fun yesterday during the @OccupyMelbourne protest running around in a chicken suit. Being a B-grade serial pest, I’ve been to a few protests and what not over the years but this one felt different. It wasn’t just that we were only one of 951 other occupations around the world. It wasn’t just the family friendly atmosphere with kids running around making signs (incidentally a good friend of mine’s daughter painted 99% Angry on a pink sign). It wasn’t just the food or diversity of different groups and people who showed up. It was that it felt like a beginning. It’s like we met, nervously at first, and decided we’d take a journey together.
Anyone who tells you they know what will happen as a result of these occupations is either a fool or deluded. One thing is certain though, things will be different if and when the Occupations end. And here’s why. Within this broad feeling of a new beginning lies the organising principles and methodology that is driving the Occupy Movement to build a better world.
Do you remember the Iraq War protests? I do. Millions of us around the world turned out on message for peace. We made our point loud and clear. Then we went home and the war started. With the occupation though we decided against going home. And if you’re going to hang around anywhere you need to find a way to make it work. And as media theorist Douglas Rushkoff points out, the occupation itself models an alternative economic system. It might well be the first large scale example of a real world wiki community. The occupation demonstrates “a post-market, collaborative approach to creating and exchanging value”. Appeals for assistance are sent out via Twitter. Participants donate their own time, resources and skills to building the occupation. Professors teach classes, tradespeople ply their craft and artists entertain. All for the good of the organic whole of the occupation that in turn supports the participants.
The building of a distinct alternative to the prevailing system of extreme corporate power based on solidarity is the operating meta-principle but there’s a number of ways in which this plays out across worldwide occupations. Continue reading
Change might be constant but there will always be haters. And with the growing #occupywallstreet movement, it’s no different. There are those who criticise the Wall St Occupation because there is no clear demand, or that the occupiers are somehow hypocrites for using the goods and services of corporations. Both criticisms miss the point. Attacking an occupier because they are taking photos with a digitial camera or talking on a smartphone would be like attacking a Parisian revolutionary in 1789 for eating produce that was grown on the land of an aristocrat. Like fish we can only swim in the system we live in, but unlike fish we can change it. Continue reading
Do you want the good news or the bad news? Well, I always like to start with the bad news first. Things are going to get worse than you think. I mean bad, really, really bad. The good news? All I’ve got to give you is some guff about crisis and opportunity pretty much being soul-mates.
How dire am I talking about? Think the full force of the global Great Recession (call the systemic crisis what you will) finally unleashed on Australia combined with an Abbott-led government with an historic parliamentary majority. Now, put yourself in Peter Reith’s shoes, with Peter Reith’s ideology. Your mental Peter Reith should be <censored>, while the real you shudders with the thought of imminently being absolutely <censored> by Big Capital/the State. Continue reading