In ‘Not Waving but Drowning: Precarity and the Working Class’, Mark Hoskins takes a critical look at the idea put forward by some academics and even parts of the anti-capitalist movement that the “precariat” is the revolutionary subject of our epoch. After examining the subjective conditions of the precarious subject today and comparing its objective conditions to those of the working class of the last century, he goes on to explore how these conditions relate to our end goal, a communist society and what lessons that can teach us in our attempt to get there.
In Paul Bowman’s article ‘Rethinking Class: From Recomposition to Counter-Power’, he poses the question “Is class still a useful idea?” or “should we instead just dispense with it and go with the raw econometrics of inequality?” He draws a line between revolutionary class analysis and universalist utopianism and goes on to explore the history of different ideas of class and the elusive revolutionary subject. After exploring the intersecting lines of class and identity, he poses the challenge that we as libertarians face as we strive to create “cultural and organisational forms of class power [that] do not unconsciously recreate the... hierarchies of identity and exclusion” that are the hallmark of the present society.
The euro zone crisis, and the mainstream opinion formers’ response to it, raises the question of nationalistic understandings of the way the world works, and how these understandings frame our perception of where our interests lie.
From the 1850s onwards, against a background of great new wealth in society and a working class that was more independent and resourceful, the 'problem of democracy' became urgent for the rich and powerful. In general wealth was rising throughout society, but so was the greed of those who owned the new factories, mines and plantations. The key question was: what was to be done about the general demand for democracy, and about the incessant clamour for political rights which, during the revolutions of 1848, had almost got completely out of hand?
Many people still associate anarchism with violence, destruction, and chaos. This concept of anarchism is reinforced by the corporate media, and those that have an interest in discrediting the anarchist movement. Needless to say this idea of anarchism bears no correlation with the society we are trying to create, or our struggle to achieve it.
We are all used to the scenario. You don't see your local political 'representatives' for years and suddenly when an election is called they're all swarming all over your neighbourhood like flies around cowshit - the politicians and the wannabe politicians. It's a scene which is going to be enacted all over Ireland - both North and South - shortly as general elections loom on both sides of the border. Yet again we'll have the great choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber as to who we want to sit in Leinster House or Stormont for the next four or five years - even though we know that it's not really going to make any difference.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack we have been inundated with reminders from our 'leaders' of how glorious our society, our civilisation, is. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - these are the principles which supposedly animate our political life.
But only those who aren't free, and don't live in a democratic society, need to be told they are free and live in a democratic society. To those who are free, it is obvious. Billionaire Denis O'Brien knows he is free. We, au contraire, have to be convinced. And real democracy is a way of life, it is not something hard to spot.
We want a society where liberty, equality, and solidarity, aren't just words, but are the ubiquitous and palpable features of every day life - that is to say anarchism.
In our society, Democracy is like a marble statue in an art gallery. It is dead and motionless, put on a pedestal, you view and admire it, then go home and don't take it with you. The professionals will curate it - return to your plebeian wont.
Politicians love to take the high moral ground, especially because they spend most of their time lying and implementing the unethical agenda of the masters. Events like the Charlie Hebdo massacre are excellent opportunities for them to declaim from the pulpit, and distract from their own malfeasance. 'Murdering journalists is bad! Those people are savages, how could they trample on our exquisite Democracy? Why do they hate our Liberty, which we love so dearly?' It is an opportunity to further reinforce the mythology of a Free Society, and Enda Kenny - the ambitious statesman that he is - is not one to let it pass.
“In our solidarity we show the agents of such destruction that to us their actions are anathema, their propositions absurd ...
Together, as Europeans, may we nourish our democracy, protect our liberty, cherish our way of life.” - An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Paris, January 2015.
How wearisome is it when we are more accustomed to our most beloved ideals being used as soundbite seasoning, than being expressed in earnest - let alone actually being embodied by the society we live in? Political life is fake, and we expect it to be fake. The politicians are just so shocked that anyone would do such a thing. Where did it even come from? Well don't ask that, but they had nothing to do with fomenting the conditions for its expansion anyway. Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, (Shannon), speak not of it. The barbarians are on the loose and there's no time.
'Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible' – democratic socialist George Orwell.
You wake up, and the radio is saying something about hundreds of billions of euro again. Police somewhere just shot a load of protesters, and something about the polar ice caps melting faster than we thought. It's awful, but you're just one person. Things are pretty bleak.
You're not the first to feel hopeless
As Orwell says, the rulers of society, the people in charge who control the resources and make the decisions, will seem invincible. Put yourself in the position of a feudal serf, or a slave? Do you think they ever thought that the feudal regime would crumble, that slavery would be abolished? People said it wasn't possible, that human nature wouldn't allow it, and that we should just aim to have a 'better feudalism', a 'better slavery'. But, lo and behold, it happened and only because there were people who refused to settle, who dared to believe that a fundamentally better world was possible.
So during a press event yesterday, Alan Kelly (Minister of Environment, Community & Local Government) said that he has other career opportunities if the whole water charges initiative ends his political career. We would certainly believe that, considering the fact that former political insiders can be valuable assets to wealthy individuals.
For example, former Taoiseach Brian Cowen went on to become an employee of Denis O'Brien. He was appointed to the board of fuel supply chain Topaz Energy Group as part of a team of seven new directors. Earlier this year Topaz won a €20m contract to supply fuel charge cards to the Gardaí, the Irish Prison Service and the Office of Public Works.