Tag: labour

  • A bleakly plausible future for post-pandemic labour

    This piece by James Meadway paints a bleakly plausible future for post-pandemic labour. Firstly, the economic costs of social distancing on businesses with already thin profit margins incentivises a renewed push towards automation, something which has been stalled by the relatively cost of labour heretofore. Why risk the large capital investment in robots when humans […]

  • Neoliberalism is limping to its death: what comes next?

    This short piece on OpenDemocracy captures something I’ve been obsessing about since the UK election: Neoliberalism is limping to its death, and it’s up to us to make sure that what comes next isn’t something worse. The energy, the ideas and the people are all on our side. It seems increasingly clear that neoliberalism is […]

  • Digital labour in the university: understanding the transformations of academic work in the UK

    My notes on Woodcock, J. (2018). Digital labour in the university: understanding the transformations of academic work in the UK. TripleC, 16(1), 129-142. This important paper by Jamie Woodcock sees to rectify the lack of application of ways of analysing work to the work conducted within the university. His main focus is on the introduction of […]

  • The Labour leadership’s embrace of social media outriders

    Even if I wasn’t a supporter, I’d have been fascinated by Labour’s use of social media in the last election and how this built upon prior successes in successive leadership elections. The new book by Steve Howell, deputy director of strategy and communications during the election, contains many fascinating snippets about this that I hadn’t […]

  • Are some political tactics more adaptable to intensified social change than others? 

    The first of what seems likely to be many books about the June 2017 general election was released earlier this week. Betting the House, by Tim Ross and Tom McTague, tells the story of the election through contrasting accounts of the Conservative and Labour campaigns. There’s much more detail about the former, seemingly reflecting both the […]

  • How to trash the political rulebook

    A fascinating insight from Steve Howell, deputy to Seumas Milne, concerning how to kick back against the ‘political rulebook’ beloved of the centrists: In his interview, Howell, who is writing a book called How the Lights Get In – Inside Corbyn’s Election machine, also described how the team around the leader faced scepticism from other parts of […]

  • The Digital Monad

    From Counterculture to Cyberculture, by Fred Turner, presents the fascinating history through which avowed cultural radicals of the 1960s came to generate the present day dogmas of working culture under digital capitalism. In the last week, I’ve written about this in terms of the digital nomad and the digital hipster. These cultural forms are, as […]

  • The Ideal of the Digital Nomad

    In From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner analyses how digital technology came to be seen as capable of liberating the individual, freeing them from the shackles of petty attachments to organisations and places. This is a complex story but it’s one in which cultural entrepreneurs figure prominently, carving out modes of living which later percolated […]

  • The ascent of the spiralists

    I wrote recently about a short article by Michael Burawoy in which he bemoaned the ascendancy of the spiralists within universities. These relentlessly ambitious new entrants to the university system see it as a theatre within which they can make themselves known, spiralling into the university before once more spiralling out of it to bigger and better […]

  • Against the ‘political rulebook’

    Much of the reaction to Labour’s election success last week has been framed in terms of their ‘rewriting the rules’. One particularly explicit example of this can be seen in an article by Jonathan Freedland, an enthusiastic critic of Corbyn, pontificating that Corbyn took “the traditional political rulebook” and “put it through the shedder”. What […]

  • The abuse Corbyn was subject to from Labour MPs

    If this is an accurate account, it’s remarkable that he seemingly remains devoid of bitterness about this treatment. From The Candidate, by Alex Nunns, loc 6251: “You are not fit to be prime minister,” the widely unknown Bridget Phillipson tells Corbyn. “It’s time to be honest with yourself. You’re not a leader. You need to […]

  • How Corbyn hacked the media

    It’s conventional wisdom that Corbyn’s leadership campaign was the target of brutal coverage by the media. I was interested to learn in The Candidate, by Alex Nunns, that this wasn’t quite how the campaign itself saw the situation. Understanding why can help elucidate the surprise that was #Election2017. From loc 4591-4556: Ask some of Corbyn’s […]

  • “Help! Help! Here comes everybody!”: Social Media and Corbynism

    How has social media contributed to the growing success of Corbynism? In asking this question, we risk falling into the trap of determinism by constructing ‘social media’ as an independent force bringing about effects in an otherwise unchanged world. This often goes hand-in-hand with what Nick Couldry calls ‘the myth of us’, framing social media in […]

  • The Consolations of Gaming in Digital Capitalism

    From How The World Changed Social Media, by Danny Miller et al, loc 1203 The stand-out figure here is from industrial China. This is probably the site where people’s working day involves the most unremitting labour in factories. It is therefore not all that surprising to note that they use gaming as a means to […]

  • The colonisation of life by work

    From Inventing the Future, by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, loc 2429: Work has become central to our very self-conception –so much so that when presented with the idea of doing less work, many people ask, ‘But what would I do?’ The fact that so many people find it impossible to imagine a meaningful life […]

  • The coordinates of the austerity consensus are disintegrating

    From Corbyn: Against All Odds, by Richard Seymour, pg 22. There’s a huge opportunity for the Labour left but also a huge risk, as momentum has built for an anti-austerity platform that might no longer be relevant: “It is not clear what will happen to the debt/speculation economy, or the ‘property-owning democracy’ where large numbers […]

  • Understanding the rage of the Labour right

    From Corbyn: Against All Odds, by Richard Seymour, pg 15: Adam Phillips suggests that our rages disclose what it is we think we are entitled to. We become infuriated when the world doesn’t live up to our largely unconscious assumptions about how it should be for us. What might the fury of Labour’s right-wingers, as […]

  • The Lived Reality of Work in Tech Firms

    From Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, by Douglas Rushkoff, loc 72-86: A few weeks later, there was nothing to smile about. Protesters in Oakland were now throwing rocks at Google’s buses and broke a window, terrifying employees. Sure, I was as concerned about the company’s practices as anyone, and frustrated by the way Silicon […]

  • The Zero Marginal Cost Society

    From Intern Nation, by Ross Perlin, loc 2379: (A small-scale survey in the U.K., conducted in 2010, found that a whopping 86 percent of recent graduates and soon-to-be graduates were willing to work for free, despite considering it exploitative.) As the cost of copying and disseminating (but not creating) content has plunged towards zero, no […]

  • Reclaiming ‘aspiration’ for the left 

    This is powerful stuff from Corbyn in his recent LSE lecture: I am not talking here about the aspiration of the delusional Del Boys – “This time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires” – not the importation of the individualist American Dream. (As an aside, the US comedian George Carlin once said “They call it […]