I’d just like to share a few very different things I’ve found recently. Some of them are very serious, others less so, but in different ways I think they all say something about the situation of those of us who aren’t in stable, unionised jobs and so often find ourselves getting written out of “the class struggle”. The idea that class struggle is something that union members do and the rest of us can only offer solidarity at best is a very problematic one, but examples of it pop up quite regularly, even in pieces published by groups I have a lot of respect for, like the Commune.
Anyway, the first, and by far the biggest, thing I wanted to point people towards was the Black Orchid Collective’s recent article “Longview, Occupy and Beyond: Rank and file and the 89% unite!” It’s been around for a few months now, but I’ve only just got around to reading it due to its length, and it’s really good. It’s written by some proles in Seattle who were involved in last December’s West Coast Port Shutdown, which was one of the most exciting events to happen in the US in a long time. They talk about their experiences as people who lack the security offered by unions trying to organise alongside unionised port workers, and think about what future forms of genuinely class-wide organisation might look like. It’s long, but it’s really worth reading – the ideas they’re coming out with aren’t just abstract theorising or based on history, they’re reflections from people involved in some of the most intense struggles happening in the US at the moment, and so seriously worth a read.
The second thing I wanted to point people to was Juan Conatz’s recent article for Shift Magazine, “‘Bout to explode: A day in the life of a precarious worker.” It’s short, to the point, and really effective. Thankfully, the sort of ultra-precarious day labour will be unfamiliar to most if not all British readers, but the combination of increased workfare and reduced protection for those in “real” jobs is fast taking us closer to the American model, so it’s worth a read to see how fucking grim our future will be. And Johnny Void’s latest piece does a good jobs of summing up how bad things are already.
Finally, on a much lighter note, those of you who are into this newfangled twitter business should check out @wrongtowork, which is exactly the sort of thing the internet was made for – a radical critique of the pro-work politics of Right to Work/Youth Fight for Jobs, but with cats. Not much there yet, but it’s already an effective reply to those leftists who see claimants as being potential workers and nothing more.