Transcribed from the 27 June 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the full interview:
“Cooperatives are not just about doing good or creating change through our work externally, but also about bringing democracy and equality into the economy.”
Chuck Mertz: Imagine a world where you actually find your work to be something more than a job. Imagine, if you will, a world where a life’s work is actually fulfilling and expresses who and what you really are and believe, where the pursuit of happiness is actually happening every day. I know what you’re thinking. It’s hard to imagine. After all, this is hell.
But it’s actually happening, at least in some parts of our world. Here to tell us what steps we could take toward a happier place here on Earth: Rhiannon Colvin, who wrote the article Re-imagining the Future of Work, which is an extract from Resist: Against a Precarious Future, the third book in the Radical Futures series.
Thanks for being on This is Hell!, Rhiannon.
Rhiannon Colvin: Hello!
CM: Great to have you on the show. Rhiannon graduated two years ago, and after competing in the brutal graduate job market and researching solutions to youth unemployment in Portugal and Spain, she founded a group called AltGen, which supports 18- to 29-year-olds to set up cooperative businesses as an empowering and collaborative solution to youth unemployment.
You write, “Imagine that it’s 2025 and the world of work has changed. Today we do labor out of passion, not obligation. Nobody has a low-paid job or has to balance multiple jobs just to make rent. Work gives us meaning and direction, but it does not define who we are. The three-day working week means we have time to spend with friends and family, to contribute to our communities, and have a say in how society is run.”
That sounds fantastic. But are those things even the goal of today’s economy? And how much do you think we’ve forgotten that a functioning economy should give everyone a better quality of life?
RC: I don’t think that those are the goals of today’s economy, but they are the goals of many young people and progressive movements today. And it sounds like an unrealistic dream, but it’s something that really is possible through a number of different strategies I outline. In the UK, when people in government—or trade unions, even—talk about solutions to youth unemployment, they keep within the narrative of more and more jobs…in the same kinds of companies, in the same kind of way.
They don’t actually have any vision for what kind of future we want.
Quitting, as an individual act of rebellion, remains just that. To be revolutionary it must be an action taken collectively. Do we have it in us?
by Antidote’s Ed Sutton
Once again it has been a stretch since you, dear reader, have heard directly from our writers collective. As we begin to feel your eyes on us, and as the number of eyes grows, we have been grappling a little with insecurity. As such, this essay represents a petulant determination to ignore the imagined pressure to “drop something big” and simply stick to what we’re good at. Although we have confrontational ideas, we are bound somehow to voice them calmly and quietly (though not always), and we find value in ponderous reflection and even some touchy-feely self-examination. Isn’t that what we all wish more people would do?
AntiNote: We encountered this article in German at Eisbrecher Wuppertal (via Linksunten Indymedia) shortly after the clashes around the grand opening of the new European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt last Wednesday. True to form, the dominant German-language media (and even much of the ‘alternative’ media) has been apoplectically clutching its pearls about the targeted property damage that the first phase of #M18 protests included in their largely successful blockade of the ribbon-cutting—while the dominant English-language media has been mostly silent.
This is a crying shame, considering that Blockupy 2015 represented a significant expansion and escalation of the continent-wide anti-austerity movement and should be considered in this context. This article provides some background on Blockupy (which grew out of the global Occupy movement and has learned and grown in the face of violent state repression—where nearly every other Occupy site faltered), and proposes applying similar levels of targeted militancy more broadly.
“Violence” at Blockupy Frankfurt: Enough with the Hypocrisy!
by some activists from Wuppertal, Germany
20 March 2015
In the country which is the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, there were hours-long street clashes last Wednesday [18 March 2015]. After the massive repression faced by Blockupy activists in 2012 and 2013, state power lost control—at least for a short time—of entire sections of the city of Frankfurt.
Of course, the discourse over “violence” has dominated media reports. We should gladly engage in these discussions, so that conditions might change and we can finally put an end to the real structural violence all around us every day under capitalism.
AntiNote: This week marks two years since the NATO summit in Chicago and the large protests against it that filled an entire weekend with creative direct actions and marches (some better reported than others) and filled an entire city with militarized cops.
The NATO protests and the hyperbolic response to them fit all-too-neatly into the well-rehearsed protester/police/publicity choreography we have seen developing slowly and ominously worldwide since the late nineties, which author Kristian Williams summed up last year in an interview on the Ex-Worker podcast:
“[Since the Battle in Seattle] we’ve seen a new period of innovation in crowd control and a new period of experimentation. Sociologists Patrick Gillham and John Noakes describe the new system as Strategic Incapacitation.