Jack Saturday

Monday, June 06, 2011

Anti Wage-Slavery, Pro-Freedom Quotations Of The Week 673-674

…the worker is left with a catch-22: either he [sic] can continue to earn wages disproportionate to the labour power he is putting in, or he can walk out on his contract but face the destitution that soon accompanies transition into the world of unemployment. His predicament is a tragic one indeed, and he is blinded to any prospect of radical change by the ideology instilled in him by the political superstructure, dass Arbeit macht Frei. He is unable to cultivate himself – and so transcend ideology – because he has neither the time nor the means, and so he is increasingly alienated from his creative potential, his peers (due to the competition for work), at times his family, and above all, himself. He is held captive by the capitalist.

Where does the graduate fit into all of this? It’s probably obvious. By virtue of the fundamental principle of the LTV, the graduate intern is actually worse off – at least in the short-term – than Marx’s noble proletarian. This is quite simply because his labour power is being handed over to the capitalist for free. It almost resembles a feudal system, wherein the serf worships the squire; the intern, desperate to raise himself into the upper echelons of the capitalist sphere, takes what he can get, even if he receives no wage over a period of months, and as long as the work doesn’t resemble what he views as ‘poor man’s labour’. He will be easily fobbed off by the oft illusory sugar cubes the capitalist dangles in front of him. And his predicament is not so much tragic as it is pathetic…

what would Karl Marx make of this? As I said, he would laugh in disbelief, disbelief that the capitalist system has created slaves within its own class. Disbelief that these slaves have been ‘culturally enlightened’ and supposedly see the flaws in the system, yet continue to submit themselves to exploitation. They are a sub-culture existing within the middle class itself, and they are full of contradictions: impoverished yet decadent; desperate but unwilling; culturally enlightened yet utterly naive – they are magnets for exploitation.

WWMD- what would Marx do?
Interns Anonymous

Each of us has some kind of tenacious family ancestry to call on in our work.  No matter the glass and steel look of our office, somewhere in each of our backgrounds lies a layered, gritty complexity, an inheritance of people who came through. Life is too difficult to survive without tenacity and perseverance, and we all hold an unroken thread of survivorship by the very fact that we are here, the latest in a very long line of survivors. Some of our ancestors were dogged, silent, and inarticulate in their holding on, some courageously outspoken, but imagine their disappointment in each of us, looking from the perspective of the particular heavens they inhabit, when we do not take another step for them.   When we do not make a frontier of our own lives. If they were quiet in their own lives, they must want us to speak out; if they were loud and vociferous, they must want us to be more tempered and wiser with the fire, but none of them surely, can stomach our willigness to hide ourselves in a bland compliance to powers or careers to which we have made ourselves slaves.
David Whyte
Crossing The Unknown Sea


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