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robertogreco : exploitation   63

is everything an MLM
"When I tweeted out the piece, a fellow academic responded: “This sounds….familiar: ‘CorePower churns out thousands more “certified” teachers than the company offers to employ.’”

She’s referring to the overproduction of PhDs: too many people coming through grad school, and too few sustainable academic jobs. And as anyone in any field understands, when there’s way more qualified applicants than jobs, the existing jobs can demand more of applicants (more qualifications, less money) while applicants lower their own expectations (for compensation, for benefits, for job security, for course load and service, for location).

So why don’t academic departments just decrease the number of PhD students they accept? Because those students have become an integral cog in the contemporary university. A recent report by the National Research Council on"Addressing the Nation's Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists" found that the number of new PhDs awarded every year “is well "is well above that needed to keep pace with growth in the U.S. economy and to replace those leaving the workforce as a result of retirement and death." The report suggests that there should be no increase in the number of PhDs, but does not call for a decrease: “to change suddenly the numbers of people could be very disruptive to the research that’s going on at the present time.”

Put differently, those PhD students are providing (cheap!) labor in labs; to decrease the flow of incoming students would necessitate a dramatic rethinking of the funding/viability of various labs. The Humanities don’t have labs, but they do have massive numbers of undergraduate courses that need teaching. In English programs, it’s some version of “comp,” or composition; in foreign language programs, it’s intro language classes; in communications, it’s public speaking. Many of these courses are mandated “core” in some capacity, ensuring an unwavering stream of students, and an unwavering demand for (again, very cheap) graduate student labor to serve them. To decrease the number of graduate students, again, would be to decrease the supply of cheap labor. To rectify the loss, you’d either have to hire adjuncts or more professors (both more expensive than graduate students) or decrease the number of admitted students (and a loss, to the university, of an income stream).

Some schools start PhD programs — even though they know that their institution is not prestigious enough to place its graduates in “good” jobs, unless they are truly stellar — as a sort of labor generator: lure students with the promise of tuition remission, and you’ve got at least four years of their labor. Some MA programs also provide tuition remission in exchange for TA’ing; others are simply “money makers,” with no opportunity to TA, just the opportunity for 10-40 students pay full tuition, even if the chances of moving on to a PhD program (or full-time employment in their field) is small.

We talk a lot about how “for-profit” colleges (Cappella, Phoenix, dozens of others) exploit students’ internalized belief that the only way to pull themselves and their families up through the capitalist system is a degree — no matter if they have to take out massive amounts of debt to do it, no matter if they’re steered towards degree programs (massage therapy) in which there’s little chance to find employment that will even cover your loan payment, let alone allow the student to pull themselves up the class ladder. (Of course, a degree can provide that route — but usually it can be obtained for much, much less at the local community college.)

For first generation college students with little or no inherited knowledge of how college or student loans work, for-profit colleges can be incredibly appealing. They target you; they tell you that you could have a different life, a secure life, a career, everything you’ve dreamed of, just by enrolling. (For the twentieth time, read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s Lower Ed for an in-depth account of how for profit colleges target, recruit, and exploit these populations)

But academia — specifically, higher ed — does something different. Like my yoga teacher, they affirm what so many of us wanted to believe about ourselves: that we’re good enough, smart enough, potential-filled enough, to go to grad school. Maybe it started when you wrote a paper you were particularly proud of, and your professor told you, off-handedly, “maybe you should think about grad school.” Maybe someone else in your life — the parent of a friend, someone you nannied for, your parent — told you the same. When my undergrad professor told me as much, it was like someone had unfogged the windshield of my life: oh, yes, there’s the road in front of me!

Everyone I met in grad school had some version of this story. Once the aptitude was discerned, in our minds, into something like destiny. You ask for letters of recommendation, and your professors write them. You apply to grad schools, and some accept you. Instead of thinking about should I go to grad school, it becomes which grad school should I go to? And because you’ve already made the decision, it’s difficult to divert when the road conditions become more and more difficult.

Bad funding situation? You’ll make it work. Too many MA and PhDs means you have to “professionalize” (go to many conferences, publish many peer-reviewed papers) on your own dime? You’ll make it work. Take out loans to cover that conference travel; take out loans to live over the summer because there’s no funding available; take out loans to finish your dissertation because your school ran out of it; take out loans to travel to MLA to be one of 15 people interviewing for a job you don’t want. Again: You’ll make it work. You’re already too far down the road.

Job market’s so tight that you have to move away from your partner for a year of a post doc, then another post-doc across the country, then a job in a place far from family that pays less than a high school teacher? Again, you’ll make it work. You get to do something you love, the refrain goes. All jobs are bad, someone will tell you.

To give up is shameful, but why? Where does that shame come from? We internalize the failure as our own, instead of a failure that was set up, save for a select few, from the start. Put differently, getting spit out by the contemporary academic establishment isn’t a mark of failure; it’s a sign that the system is working as intended. Those who aren’t spit out are absorbed into the pyramid — as adjuncts, as tenure track. And no matter how much they advocate for ethical treatment, no matter how much they support graduate unions, there’s only so much you can do when your university keeps admitting graduate students.

Which isn’t to say there’s nothing. I’ve always deeply admired the Communications program at the University of Wisconsin, which only accepts as many PhD students as it honestly believes it can place in jobs. That means incredible selectivity, but it also means keeping its numbers incredibly low. (I didn’t get accepted there, which maybe should have been a sign that I should’ve have kept going!) I know a number of professors who are increasingly working with graduate students, from the beginning, on how to “professionalize” towards career paths that may or may not lead outside of academia. I know tenured professors who fund graduate student travel to conferences, and who only publish in open-source journals, and who speak frankly to their undergrad students about the realities and debt and burnout incurred through the graduate school process.

There are so many good and ethical actors within the system. But it’s not enough to counter the absorbing, flattering, hope-igniting energy of contemporary academia, which subsists on the infinite stream of students so eager for someone to tell them that the thing they love to think about it, the thing that feels nourishing and explosive and electric, they can have that thing all the time. That’s how I used to talk about my path to grad school: I wanted a way to think about the things I was thinking about for the rest of my life. All I needed was that one teacher to tell me I could. What I didn’t realize is that there were, and are, so many paths, professional and otherwise, to think about those things for the rest of my life.

To suggest as much, though, feels subversive — or at least un-American in some weird way. Of course you should pursue your dream! But what if “my dream” was actually just a fear of other options + an addiction to compliments + a few well-written undergraduate papers?

When I first suggested that yoga teacher training was an MLM, someone rightly responded: “it feels like everything today is an MLM.” That’s what happens when an industry is fully enveloped by capitalism: When a hedge fund buys a yoga company — or when universities are figured as money-making businesses, with actual consultants hired to lead them. You can blame massive constructive initiatives intended to lure students, but the real problem is the one no one wants to talk about: the massive divestment of state funds, aka tax dollars, across the board. Over the last thirty years, our elected officials have decided that higher education isn’t a societal investment. It’s a capitalist business that must sustain itself. It doesn’t matter how much the head of a graduate department wants to increase graduate pay when the budget has been squeezed so tightly and tuition has already exponentially risen to counter it. There’s no there, there.

The fault with thinking of academia as a pyramid scheme is that there’s no one at the top — just the increasingly ambivalent structure, the ever-reproducing base. You could say administration profits, or football coaches profit. But it increasingly feels like a system in which no one wins: not the students, not their … [more]
capitalism  academia  annehelenpetersen  labor  work  markets  highered  pyramidschemes  ponzischemes  yoga  mlms  multi-levelmarketingschemes  exploitation  colleges  universities  srg  gradschool 
4 days ago by robertogreco
Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Justice in America Episode 20: Mariame Kaba and Prison Abolition - The Appeal
"On the last episode of Season 2, Josie and Clint discuss prison abolition with Mariame Kaba, one of the leading organizers in the fight against America’s criminal legal system and a contributing editor for The Appeal. Mariame discusses her own journey into this work, provides perspective on the leaders in this space, and helps us reimagine what the future of this system could look like. Mariame’s way of thinking about this system, and the vision of possibilities she provides, is an excellent send-off to our second season."

[full transcript on page]

"I grew up in New York City and came of age in 1980s. So, um, when I was coming of age in the city, it was kind of the early eighties were a fraught moment for many different kinds of reasons. The tail end of deinstitutionalization. So the first time where we actually started seeing homeless people outside on the streets. Michael Stewart was killed by the police in 1983 which was a very big moment for me. I was 12 years old and that really impacted me. My, um, older siblings were very animated by that fact. Um, crack cocaine is coming into being, this is the time of ACT UP. Um, this is when Reagan comes to power. It was a very tumultuous period and moment of time. So coming of age in that time led me to start organizing for racial justice as a teenager. And I also came of age during the time when there was the Bensonhurst case where a young black man was pursued and then killed by a mob of white young people who were close to my age because he supposedly talked to a white girl in a way that people were not happy about. The Howard Beach incident comes up in 1986. There was a lot happening during my teenagers in the city and I did not have an analysis of the criminal punishment system at that time. I just saw a lot of my friends, I grew up on the Lower East Side, so a lot of my friends ending up in juvie and then in prison and I didn’t, and the cops were always in our neighborhood harassing people and I did not really put all these things together, but I had a frame that was a racial justice frame at a very young age, mainly because of my parents. My mom and my dad. Um, my father, who’d been a socialist in the anti-colonial struggles in Guinea. Like I had a politics at home, but all I understood was like they were coming after black people in multiple different kinds of ways. It wasn’t until I was older and I had come back from college, um, I went to school in Montreal, Canada, came back to the city right after, I was 20 years old when I graduated from college, came back to the city and got a job working in Harlem at the, um, Countee Cullen Library and then ended up teaching in Harlem. And it was there that I found out that all of my students were also getting enmeshed in the criminal punishment system. But I still didn’t have a really, like I didn’t have a politic about it. It wasn’t until a very tragic story that occurred with one of my students who ended up killing another one of my students that I became very clearly aware of the criminal punishment system cause they were going to try to, um, basically try him as an adult. The person who did the killing, he was only 16. And it was that incident that kind of propelled me into trying to learn about what the system was, what it was about. And it concurrently, it was also the time when I started to search for restorative justice because it occurred to me, in watching the family of my student who had been killed react to the situation, that they did not want punishment for the person who killed their daughter. They were, uh, they wanted some accountability and they were also talking about the fact that he did not want him charged as an adult."



"people who are practitioners of restorative justice see restorative justice as a philosophy and ideology, a framework that is much broader than the criminal punishment system. It is about values around how we treat each other in the world. And it’s about an acknowledgement that because we’re human beings, we hurt each other. We cause harm. And what restorative justice proposes is to ask a series of questions. Mostly the three that are kind of advanced by Howard Zehr, who is the person who about 40 years ago popularized the concept of restorative justice in the United States. He talks about since we want to address the violation in the relationships that were broken as a result of violence and harm, that you want to ask a question about who was hurt, that that is important to ask, that you want to ask then what are the obligations? What are the needs that emerge from that hurt? And then you want to ask the question of whose job is it to actually address the harm? And so because of that, those questions of what happened, which in the current adversarial system are incidental really, you know, it’s who did this thing, what rules were broken? How are we going to actually punish the people who broke the rules? And then whose role is it to do that? It’s the state’s. In restorative justice it’s: what happened? Talk about what happened, share what happened, discuss in a, you know, kind of relational sense what happened. And then it’s what are your needs? Would do you need as a result of this? Because harms engender needs that must be met, right? So it asks you to really think that through. And then it says, you know, how do we repair this harm and who needs to be at the table for that to happen. It invites community in. It invites other people who were also harmed because we recognize that the ripples of harm are beyond the two individuals that were involved, it’s also the broader community and the society at large. So that’s what restorative justice, at its base, is really the unit of concern is the broken relationship and the harm. Those are the focus of what we need to be addressing. And through that, that obviously involves the criminal punishment system. In many ways RJ has become co-opted by that system. So people were initially proponents of restorative justice have moved their critique away from using RJ and talking about instead transformative justice. That’s where you see these breakdowns occurring because the system has taken on RJ now as quote unquote “a model for restitution.”"



"Restorative justice and transformative justice, people say they’re interchangeable sometimes, they are not. Because transformative justice people say that you cannot actually use the current punishing institutions that exist. Whereas RJ now is being run in prisons, is being run in schools. Institutions that are themselves violently punishing institutions are now taking that on and running that there. And what people who are advocates of transformative justice say is RJ, because of its focus on the individual, the intervention is on individuals, not the system. And what transformative justice, you know, people, advocates and people who have kind of begun to be practitioners in that have said is we have to also transform the conditions that make this thing possible. And restoring is restoring to what? For many people, the situation that occurred prior to the harm had lots of harm in it. So what are we restoring people to? We have to transform those conditions and in order to do that we have to organize, to shift the structures and the systems and that will also be very important beyond the interpersonal relationships that need to be mended."



"I reject the premise of restorative and transformative justice being alternatives to incarceration. I don’t reject the premise that we should prefigure the world in which we want to live and therefore use multiple different kinds of ways to figure out how to address harm. So here’s what I mean, because people are now saying things like the current criminal punishment system is broken, which it is not. It is actually operating exactly as designed. And that’s what abolition has helped us to understand is that the system is actually relentlessly successful at targeting the people it wants and basically getting the outcomes that wants from that. So if you understand that to be the case, then you are in a position of very much understanding that every time we use the term “alternative to incarceration” what comes to your mind?"



"You’re centering the punishing system. When I say alternative to prison, all you hear is prison. And what that does is that it conditions your imagination to think about the prison as the center. And what we’re saying as transformative and restorative justice practitioners is that the prison is actually an outcome of a broader system of violence and harm that has its roots in slavery and before colonization. And here we are in this position where all you then think about is replacing what we currently use prisons for, for the new thing. So what I mean by that is when you think of an alternative in this moment and you’re thinking about prison, you just think of transposing all of the things we currently consider crimes into that new world."



"It has to fit that sphere. But here’s what I, I would like to say lots of crimes are not harmful to anybody."



"And it’s also that we’re in this position where not all crimes are harms and not all harms are actually crimes. And what we are concerned with as people who practice restorative and transformative justice is harm across the board no matter what. So I always tell people when they say like, ‘oh, we’re having an alternative to incarceration or alternative to prison.’ I’m like, okay, what are you decriminalizing first? Do we have a whole list of things? So possession of drugs is a criminal offense right now. I don’t want an alternative to that. I want you to leave people the hell alone."



"Transformative justice calls on us to shatter binaries of all different types. Most of the people who currently are locked up, for example, in our prisons and jails, are people who are victims of crime first. They’ve been harmed and have harmed other people. The “perpetrator,” quote unquote… [more]
mariamekaba  clintsmith  josieduffyrice  prisonindustrialcomplex  prisions  violence  restorativejustice  justice  prisonabolition  punishment  2019  angeladavis  howardzehr  incarceration  community  humans  transformativejustice  harm  racism  responsibility  repair  people  carceralstate  binaries  accountability  police  lawenforcement  jails  coercion  gender  criminalization  humanism  decency  humanity  transformation  survival  bodies  abolition  abolitionists  nilschristie  ruthiegilmore  fayeknopp  presence  absence  systemsthinking  systems  complexity  capitalism  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  livingwage  education  organization  organizing  activism  change  changemaking  exploitation  dehumanization  optimism 
29 days ago by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | Beyond Hope
"THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have — or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective — to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ’50s and ’60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition — like hope in some future heaven — is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe — or maybe you would — how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

I’m not, for example, going to say I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just will. I don’t hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish writing this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I do hope that the next time I get on a plane, it doesn’t crash. To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they’ve assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they’ve stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.

I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn’t drive them extinct. If coho want to leave us because they don’t like how they’re being treated — and who could blame them? — I will say goodbye, and I will miss them, but if they do not want to leave, I will not allow civilization to kill them off.

When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to “hope” at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.

When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free — truly free — to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.

Many people are afraid to feel despair. They fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate our situation really is, they must then be perpetually miserable. They forget that it is possible to feel many things at once. They also forget that despair is an entirely appropriate response to a desperate situation. Many people probably also fear that if they allow themselves to perceive how desperate things are, they may be forced to do something about it.

Another question people sometimes ask me is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just party?” Well, the first answer is that I don’t really like to party. The second is that I’m already having a great deal of fun. I love my life. I love life. This is true for most activists I know. We are doing what we love, fighting for what (and whom) we love.

I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I’ve learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction — the use of any excuse to justify inaction — reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.

At one of my recent talks someone stood up during the Q and A and announced that the only reason people ever become activists is to feel better about themselves. Effectiveness really doesn’t matter, he said, and it’s egotistical to think it does.

I told him I disagreed.

Doesn’t activism make you feel good? he asked.

Of course, I said, but that’s not why I do it. If I only want to feel good, I can just masturbate. But I want to accomplish something in the real world.

Why?

Because I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don’t determine whether or not you make the effort. You don’t simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn’t cause me to protect those I love, it’s not love.

A WONDERFUL THING happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems — you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself — and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they — those in power — cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell — you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who … [more]
derrickjensen  activism  crisis  fear  hope  nihilism  love  vulnerability  survival  monsanto  weyerhaeuser  johnosborn  humans  life  living  presence  present  hereandnow  action  agency  emotions  rage  sorrow  joy  despair  happiness  satisfaction  dissatisfaction  feelings  exploitation  mortality  death  canon 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Harvard Design Magazine: No. 46 / No Sweat
"This issue of Harvard Design Magazine is about the design of work and the work of design. “No Sweat” challenges designers to speculate on the spaces of work in an accelerated future, and to imagine a world in which a novel ethics of labor can emerge. What scenarios and spaces can we imagine for the next generation of work? How can we anticipate and formulate work environments and experiences that are productive, humane, and ecologically responsible?

From corner office to kitchen sink, from building site to factory floor, from cubicle to car to coffee shop, work shapes our lives and physical world. Whether we produce objects, generate ideas, manage processes, or perform services, work is a hybrid of dedication and alienation, power and oppression. As work spaces morph to integrate machines that mimic, assist, or complement human abilities, the way we perform work, and the way we feel about it, change too.

To work (to put forth effort) and the work (that effort, or the result it generates) are sources of pride and shame, fulfillment and drudgery. As many jobs become obsolete, and as populations are displaced under the pressures of climate change and political turmoil, the boundaries of the workplace are shifting in space and time. Though some claim that a world without work is on the horizon, “labor-saving” innovations are enmeshed with human exploitation, and housework and care work remain at the crux of persistent inequalities.

Paradoxically, the more that work, as we once understood it, appears to be receding, the more omnipresent and ambiguous it becomes. The workplace is everywhere—or is it nowhere?"

[via: "also check out Andrew Herscher’s piece in HDM 46 (not online) for critique of how architects mobilize constructions of “community”"
https://twitter.com/anamarialeon/status/1101941868210909184 ]
design  work  pride  shame  2018  responsibility  ecology  sustainability  humanism  productivity  labor  ethics  fulfillment  drudgery  jobs  workplace  housework  exploitation  emotionallabor  care  caring  maintenance  andrewherscher  architecture 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong | Jason Hickel | Opinion | The Guardian
"An infographic endorsed by the Davos set presents the story of coerced global proletarianisation as a neoliberal triumph"

"Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.”

Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today. The claim is simple and compelling. And it’s not just Gates who’s grabbed on to it. These figures have been trotted out in the past year by everyone from Steven Pinker to Nick Kristof and much of the rest of the Davos set to argue that the global extension of free-market capitalism has been great for everyone. Pinker and Gates have gone even further, saying we shouldn’t complain about rising inequality when the very forces that deliver such immense wealth to the richest are also eradicating poverty before our very eyes.

It’s a powerful narrative. And it’s completely wrong.

[tweet by Bill Gates with graphs]

There are a number of problems with this graph, though. First of all, real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981. Anything before that is extremely sketchy, and to go back as far as 1820 is meaningless. Roser draws on a dataset that was never intended to describe poverty, but rather inequality in the distribution of world GDP – and that for only a limited range of countries. There is no actual research to bolster the claims about long-term poverty. It’s not science; it’s social media.

What Roser’s numbers actually reveal is that the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. The graph casts this as a decline in poverty, but in reality what was going on was a process of dispossession that bulldozed people into the capitalist labour system, during the enclosure movements in Europe and the colonisation of the global south.

Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.

In other words, Roser’s graph illustrates a story of coerced proletarianisation. It is not at all clear that this represents an improvement in people’s lives, as in most cases we know that the new income people earned from wages didn’t come anywhere close to compensating for their loss of land and resources, which were of course gobbled up by colonisers. Gates’s favourite infographic takes the violence of colonisation and repackages it as a happy story of progress.

But that’s not all that’s wrong here. The trend that the graph depicts is based on a poverty line of $1.90 (£1.44) per day, which is the equivalent of what $1.90 could buy in the US in 2011. It’s obscenely low by any standard, and we now have piles of evidence that people living just above this line have terrible levels of malnutrition and mortality. Earning $2 per day doesn’t mean that you’re somehow suddenly free of extreme poverty. Not by a long shot.

Scholars have been calling for a more reasonable poverty line for many years. Most agree that people need a minimum of about $7.40 per day to achieve basic nutrition and normal human life expectancy, plus a half-decent chance of seeing their kids survive their fifth birthday. And many scholars, including Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, insist that the poverty line should be set even higher, at $10 to $15 per day.

So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.

Moreover, the few gains that have been made have virtually all happened in one place: China. It is disingenuous, then, for the likes of Gates and Pinker to claim these gains as victories for Washington-consensus neoliberalism. Take China out of the equation, and the numbers look even worse. Over the four decades since 1981, not only has the number of people in poverty gone up, the proportion of people in poverty has remained stagnant at about 60%. It would be difficult to overstate the suffering that these numbers represent.

This is a ringing indictment of our global economic system, which is failing the vast majority of humanity. Our world is richer than ever before, but virtually all of it is being captured by a small elite. Only 5% of all new income from global growth trickles down to the poorest 60% – and yet they are the people who produce most of the food and goods that the world consumes, toiling away in those factories, plantations and mines to which they were condemned 200 years ago. It is madness – and no amount of mansplaining from billionaires will be adequate to justify it."

[See also:

"A Letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates, For That Matter) About Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/3/pinker-and-global-poverty

"A Response to Max Roser: How Not to Measure Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/6/response-to-max-roser

"Citations Needed Podcast: Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry"
https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/episode-58-the-neoliberal-optimism-industry ]
billgates  statistics  capitalism  inequality  poverty  2019  jasonhickel  davos  wealth  land  property  colonialism  colonization  maxroser  data  stevenpinker  nicholaskristof  gdp  dispossession  labor  work  money  neoliberalism  exploitation 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ben Tarnoff on Twitter: "Zuboff is a giant, and I am learning a lot from her new book. But I would respectfully dissent from her view, expressed both here and in her book, that "surveillance capitalism" is a radically worse form of capitalism than the one
"Zuboff is a giant, and I am learning a lot from her new book. But I would respectfully dissent from her view, expressed both here and in her book, that "surveillance capitalism" is a radically worse form of capitalism than the one that preceded it. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/20/shoshana-zuboff-age-of-surveillance-capitalism-google-facebook

In her book, she describes SC as a "rogue capitalism" that "abandon[s] capitalism's reciprocities with people and society" and exceeds “the historical norms of capitalist ambitions" by "claiming dominion over [new] human, societal, and political territories."

But I'm not sure that this reciprocity-oriented, not-too-ambitious Good Capitalism ever existed. Or if it did, it only existed briefly, during the postwar era of social-democratic compromise made possible by lots of class struggle.

Instead of defining SC as a "rogue capitalism," I think it's more useful to see SC (or data/informational/platform/etc capitalism) as a new mode of capital accumulation *within* capitalism that helps manage/displace certain contradictions.

This view has two advantages, I think. The first is that it gives us a clearer understanding of how SC works by emphasizing its continuities with other modes of accumulation ("cheap nature," imperialism, accumulation by dispossession, good old exploitation, etc).

The second is that I think it gives us a clearer understanding of what's wrong with SC. In her book, I find that Zuboff often spiritualizes the harms inflicted by SC, speaking of the damage done to "human nature" rather than the damage done to actual humans.

In sum, I think SC is bad because of what it (and capitalism as a whole) does to historically specific humans: it dispossesses and exploits, depletes the social and ecological resources on which we depend, and robs us of our free time. Onward to the abolition of the value form!"

[via:
"Thread. Been thinking about this a lot. Still need to read the book and work through the ideas, but the notion that SC is a perverted form of capitalism (rather than capitalism itself being the problem) isn’t one that resonates with me." [quoting the first tweet in the thread above]
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087733174988345344

"One of the other problems is it seems to play up the “nobody could have seen this coming” argument, which overlooks the many social critics who pretty explicitly warned about all of this."
https://twitter.com/libshipwreck/status/1087737924538503169

"Oh wow. Yeah that's not good (or accurate). It would be ironic if the book length treatment is the thing that moves me away from using the term."
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087738194471411712

"She doesn't even actually argue that strange distinction. It feels very much like a "Hey, your privilege is showing" kind of moment."
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087733729261506564

"I've been arguing for a while that the critique of "surveillance" or "data" capitalism is largely a reaction by the bourgeoisie who is faced with similar vectors of exploitation and discrimination working class people have been living with for decades"
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087734134867410947

"I come from a working class background and to me that train of thought feels kinda "Yeah, that's how our lives have been for ages, nice for you rich people to join us""
https://twitter.com/tante/status/1087734471191867392

"Black person here! Truth!"
https://twitter.com/hypervisible/status/1087734830626934784

"I spent an evening arguing with Prof. Zuboff about her thesis a year or so ago, and basically she isn't arguing against capitalism, and in fact thinks that the solution to the problem of 'surveillance capitalism' lies within democratic capitalism."
https://twitter.com/murakamiwood/status/1087736107784122368

"I agree with this dissent, which echoes prior scholarly critiques of Zuboff's earlier important work, which similarly misrepresents technological formations as if they are triggers of fundamentally new forms of capitalism."
https://twitter.com/ltaub/status/1087735610872352769 ]
bentarnoff  2019  capitalism  surveillance  siliconvalley  technology  surveillancecapitalism  data  class  exploitation  history  shoshanazuboff 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age | The New Yorker
"Are today’s donor classes solving problems—or creating new ones?"



"
We live, it is often said, in a new Gilded Age—an era of extravagant wealth and almost as extravagant displays of generosity. In the past fifteen years, some thirty thousand private foundations have been created, and the number of donor-advised funds has roughly doubled. The Giving Pledge—signed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and more than a hundred and seventy other gazillionaires who have promised to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy—is the “Gospel” stripped down and updated. And as the new philanthropies have proliferated so, too, have the critiques.

Anand Giridharadas is a journalist who, in 2011, was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. The institute is financed by, among other groups, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Gates Foundation. The fellowship, according to its Web site, aims to “develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders” by engaging them “in a thought-provoking journey of personal exploration.”

Giridharadas at first found the fellowship to be a pretty sweet deal; it offered free trips to the Rockies and led to invitations from the sorts of people who own Western-themed mansions and fly private jets. After a while, though, he started to feel that something was rotten in the state of Colorado. In 2015, when he was asked to deliver a speech to his fellow-fellows, he used it to condemn what he called “the Aspen Consensus.”

“The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this,” he said. “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.” The speech made the Times; people began asking for copies of it; and Giridharadas decided to expand on it. The result is “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” “I hadn’t planned to write a book on this topic, but the topic chose me,” he writes."



"Inside Philanthropy is a Web site devoted to high-end giving; its tagline is “Who’s Funding What, and Why.” David Callahan is the site’s founder and editor. If Giridharadas worries that the super-wealthy just play at changing the world, Callahan worries they’re going at it in earnest.

“An ever larger and richer upper class is amplifying its influence through large-scale giving in an era when it already has too much clout,” he writes in “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.” “Things are going to get worse, too.”

Part of the problem, according to Callahan, lies in the broad way that philanthropy has been defined. Under the federal tax code, an organization that feeds the hungry can count as a philanthropy, and so can a university where students study the problem of hunger, and so, too, can a think tank devoted to downplaying hunger as a problem. All these qualify as what are known, after the relevant tax-code provision, as 501(c)(3)s, meaning that the contributions they receive are tax deductible, and that the earnings on their endowments are largely tax-free. 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, but, as “The Givers” convincingly argues, activists on both sides of the ideological divide have developed work-arounds.

As a left-leaning example, Callahan cites Tim Gill, who’s been called “the megadonor behind the L.G.B.T.Q.-rights movement.” A software designer, Gill became rich founding and then selling a company called Quark, and he’s donated more than three hundred million dollars toward promoting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. While some of this has been in the form of straight-up political contributions, much of it has been disbursed by Gill’s tax-exempt foundation, which has financed educational efforts, message testing, and—perhaps most important—legal research. “Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation,” Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, told Rolling Stone last year.

On the right, Callahan points to Art Pope, the chairman of a privately held discount-store chain called Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his wealth to support a network of foundations, based in North Carolina, that advocate for voter-identification—or, if you prefer, voter-suppression—laws. In 2013, pushed by Pope’s network, the North Carolina state legislature enacted a measure requiring residents to present state-issued photo I.D.s at the polls. Then the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law—another Pope-funded group—led the effort to block challenges to the measure. (The I.D. law was struck down, in 2016, by a federal appeals court that held it had been “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”)

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 501(c)(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard,” Callahan notes. “It’s that these citizens are helping foot the bill.” That both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

“When it comes to who gets heard in the public square, ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor class,” Callahan writes. “How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else?” he asks. “Not many.”"



"
Critiques of “The Gospel of Wealth” didn’t have much impact on Andrew Carnegie. He continued to distribute his fortune, to libraries and museums and universities, until, at the time of his death, in 1919, he had given away some three hundred and fifty million dollars—the equivalent of tens of billions in today’s money. It is hard to imagine that the critiques of the new Carnegies will do much to alter current trend lines.

The Gates Foundation alone, Callahan estimates, will disburse more than a hundred and fifty billion dollars over the next several decades. In just the next twenty years, affluent baby boomers are expected to contribute almost seven trillion dollars to philanthropy. And, the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernmental spending will become. When congressional Republicans passed their so-called tax-reform bill, they preserved the deduction for charitable contributions even as they capped the deduction for state and local tax payments. Thus, a hundred-million-dollar gift to Harvard will still be fully deductible, while, in many parts of the country, the property taxes paid to support local public schools will not be. It is possible that in the not too distant future philanthropic giving will outstrip federal outlays on non-defense discretionary programs, like education and the arts. This would represent, Callahan notes, a “striking milestone.”

Is that the kind of future we want? As the latest round of critiques makes clear, we probably won’t have much of a say in the matter. The philanthropists will decide, and then it will be left to their foundations to fight it out."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  2018  elizabethkolbert  charity  philanthropy  inequality  andrewcarnegie  gildedage  inequity  disparity  wealth  inheritance  hughpricehughes  society  williamjewetttucker  patronage  ethics  wealthdistribution  exploitation  billgates  warrenbuffett  michaelbloomberg  larryellison  anandgiridharadas  aspenconsensus  georgesoros  socialentrepreneurship  laurietisch  darrenwalker  change  democracy  henrykravis  billclinton  davidcallahan  power  taxes  thinktanks  nonprofit  activism  timgill  publicpolicy  politics  economics  us  influence  artpope  votersuppression  law  superpacs  donaldtrump  equality  robertreich  nonprofits  capitalism  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power a
"The most important goal of any person working with children should be doing no harm. The most important goal of any teacher preparation program should be about unlearning violence, disrespect, prejudices and abuse of power against children. Everything else is secondary.

With enough willingness and some help, we can learn almost anything we want at any age, but some emotional scars take a lifetime to heal and some never heal.

As I said once before, teachers' experiences and knowledge of students are limited, biased and fragmented. They didn't know them when they were just happy kids living life. They don't know what they are like when they are at home. They stop seeing them after they leave school.

And considering that our world's most threatening problems have not much to do with lack of knowledge, but much to do with power imbalances, violence, lack of empathy, alienation, property rights, and the commodification of human beings...

The emphasis of conventional schools on having well managed classrooms and making children learn is shortsighted and misguided.

If anything, schools should be about communities where children are allowed to co-exist as equals and where they are given access to the resources they need in order to learn for their own purposes and on their own terms, not those of the structures seeking to exploit them.

And if our main concern is social justice, schools could be meeting places, places of discussion, places of access to information, places of access to learning resources that most people would not be able to afford on their own.

However, the maintenance of strong hierarchies and attempts to control what children should learn and how they should behave are contradictory to the notion of wanting create a world of equals were people are not treated as tools or commodities for someone else's purposes.

In fact, if we were truly serious about social justice, schools would be open to their communities, people could keep attending school throughout their lives as fellow learners or fellow teachers, and schools would transcend their walls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkiX7R1-kaY

It is only in an unequal world in which we are valued in terms of the economic value we produce, in which we are disposable, and in which many are deemed arbitrarily as undeserving or useless...

that we learn to think of ourselves as something with a useful life, an expiration date and in need of a certificate or letter of acceptance...

that countless human beings are forced to obtain a diagnosis in order to be able to exercise some of their most basic rights...
The right to learn differently should be a universal human right that’s not mediated by a diagnosis. http://boren.blog/2018/07/29/the-right-to-learn-differently-should-be-a-universal-human-right-thats-not-mediated-by-a-diagnosis/

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think of learning as something happening exclusively within schools' walls in which there is not enough space or enough money for everyone to attend.

It is only in a world in which competition, scarcity and exclusion are normalized that we learn to think that assigning grades and sorting children is okay."
isabelrodríguez  sfsh  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  hierarchy  horizontality  community  lcproject  openstudioproject  agesegregation  2018  rynboren  mitchaltman  hackerspaces  makerspaces  dignity  parenting  children  power  control  exploitation  coercion  race  racism  prejudice  abuse  empathy  alienation  labor  work  capitalism  solidarity  propertyrights  commodification  humanrights  humans  learning  howwelearn  school  schooliness 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Harvest of Empire – Harvest of Empire
[Available on YouTube, for now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyncOYTZfHE ]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_of_Empire:_A_History_of_Latinos_in_America ]

"The Untold Story of Latinos in America

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies 
are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.”
Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that reveals the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! Co-host Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S.

As Juan González says at the beginning of the film “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades — actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north.”

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists María Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada."
film  documentary  us  history  immigration  latinamerica  puertorico  mexico  guatemala  honduras  juangonzález  cuba  nicaragua  elsalvador  rigobertamenchú  jessejackson  anthonyromero  junotdíaz  lorenzomeyer  maríahinojosa  geraldorivera  2011  martínespada  luisenrique  dominicanrepublic  latinos  imperialism  politics  policy  foreignpolicy  braceros  wwii  ww2  civilrights  race  racism  migration  communism  redscare  centralamerica  caribbean  colonialism  socialism  capitalism  fidelcastro  rafaeltrujillo  spanish-americanwar  inequality  exploitation  sugar  cotton  revolution  resistance  fulgenciobatista  dictatorships  oppression  deportation  texas  california  newmexico  arizona  mexican-americanwar  nevada  colorado  florida  nyc  óscarromero  harrytruman  democracy  jacoboárbenz  unitedfruitcompany  eisenhower  cia  intervention  maya  ethniccleansing  land  ownership  civilwar  iran-contraaffair  ronaldreagan  sandinistas  contras  war  bayofpigs  refugees  marielboatlift  1980  jimmycarter  language  spanish  español  miami  joaquínbalaguer  hectortruji 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias
"So I’ve been thinking a lot, as I said, about “permissions” and “openness.” I have increasingly come to wonder if “permission-less-ness” as many in “open” movements have theorized this, is built on some unexamined exploitation and extraction of labor – on invisible work, on unvalued work. Whose digital utopia does “openness” represent?"



"I like to remind people that with all this sweeping rhetoric about revolution and transformation, that John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996 in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum. I don’t know about you, but that’s neither a site nor an institution I’ve never really associated with utopia. Indeed, perhaps much of this new technology was never meant to be a utopia for all of us after all."



"When we think about “open” and labor, who do we imagine doing the work? What is the work we imagine being done? Who pays? Who benefits? (And how?)"



"Ignoring racism in the technological imagination does not make it go away."



"What do machines free us from? Not drudgery – not everyone’s drudgery, at least. Not war. Not imperialism. Not gendered expectations of beauty. Not gendered expectations of heroism. Not gendered divisions of labor. Not class-based expectations of servitude. Not class-based expectations of leisure.

And so similarly, what is the digital supposed to liberate us from? What is rendered (further) invisible when we move from the mechanical to the digital, when we cannot see the levers and the wires and the pulleys."
audreywatters  2018  utopia  technology  labor  resistance  permission  open  openness  opensource  exploitation  copyright  creativecommons  johnperrybarlow  freedom  class  leisure  work  servitude  liberation  digital 
may 2018 by robertogreco
A style guide for writing about the rich – Donald Borenstein – Medium
"HOW TO WRITE ABOUT THE RICH (see below for explanation)

1: Do not broadly attribute a company’s work to their owner/CEO. 
2: It is always relevant to note how people have accumulated wealth, and who they have harmed to do so. Never omit it. 
3: Be skeptical and don’t just publish a wealthy person’s claims or without doing due diligence or offering a critical corollary.
4: Don’t trip over yourself to humanize a rich person and make them look good — you’re a journalist, not a PR person. 
5: Don’t let it all be about them. 
6: It’s not fucking news if a rich person likes Rick and Morty or whatever.
7: If you’re writing from a place of personal perspective, you should write about them with the same bilious contempt they have for human life."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-252 ]
wealth  rich  inequality  2018  donaldborenstein  pr  exploitation  hagiography  cultofpersonality  labor  work 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form — Even though we are now free from the machines that...
"Even though we are now free from the machines that enslaved and exploited people during the industrial age, digital apparatuses are installing new constraints, new slavery. Because of their mobility, they make possible exploitation that proves even more efficient, by transforming every space into a workplace - and all time into working hours.

The freedom of movement is switching over into a fatal compulsion to work everywhere. During the machine age, working time could be held in check and separated from periods of not-working, if only because the machines could not move, or be moved. One had to go to work on one’s own: this space was distinct from where work did not occur.

Today, however, this distinction no longer holds in many professions. Digital devices have mobilized work itself. The workplace is turning into a portable labor camp, from which there is no escape.

The smartphone promises more freedom, but it radiates a fatal compulsion - the compulsion to communicate. Now an almost obsessive, compulsive relationship to digital devices prevails. Here, too, “freedom” is switching over into compulsion and constraint. Social networks magnify such compulsion to communicate, on a massive scale. More communication means more capital. In turn, the accelerated circulation of communication and information leads to the accelerated circulation of Capital.

The word “digital” points to the finger (digitus). Above all, the finger counts. Digital culture is based on the counting finger. In contrast, history means recounting. It is not a matter of counting, which represents a post-historical category. Neither information nor tweets yield a whole, an account. A timeline does not recount the story of a life, either; it provides no biography. Timelines are additive, not narrative.

Digital man “fingers” the world, in that he is always counting and calculating. The digital absolutizes numbers and counting. More than anything, friends on Facebook are counted, yet real friendship is an account, a narrative. The digital age is totalizing addition, counting, and the countable. Even affection and attachments get counted - as “likes.” The narrative dimension is losing meaning on a massive scale. Today, everything is rendered countable so that it can be transformed into the language of performance, and efficiency.

As such, whatever resists being counted ceases to “be.”"

—Byung-Chul Han, In The Swarm: Digital Prospects
digital  quantitative  quantification  byung-chulhan  machines  industrialization  narrative  relationships  scale  being  presence  numbers  counting  measurement  friendship  facebook  metrics  affection  attachments  likes  meaning  capitalism  information  exploitation  mobility  work  labor  freedom  movement  compulsion  communication  constraint  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  timelines 
january 2018 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Isabel Rodríguez on Twitter: "Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services,… https://t.co/3Q5Ise6emh"
"The central problem in education is not about improving learning. It is about power imbalances and unacknowledged violence and abuse against children.

The accountability we need in education should not be about learning outcomes, but about making political and economic elites responsible for the abuses that are inflicted on children for the sake of economic exploitation and political control.

We could also think of the accountability we need in education in terms of how children are treated and the resources that are made available to them.

The socioeconomic gaps among children, which incidentally mirror gaps in the results of standardized tests, will not be closed with stricter schools.

Rather than seeking to equalize educational results, we should seek to equalize access to good food, good housing, adequate health services, natural spaces, playgrounds, and a wide array of educational resources for all children.

Democratizing education should not be about compulsory schools attendance, but about democratizing the access for people of all ages to educational resources and respecting the right of children to have a voice in their own education.

We could have open schools with a good library, computers, an Internet connection, all sorts of tools, musical instruments, sports' facilities, a community garden, workshops and courses in order to meet many different learning needs, etc.

What we need to understand is that we cannot have a competition and not have losers. As long as human beings are made to compete for access to a good life, we will always have exclusion and inequality.

And as a matter of justice, the well-being and safety of racial, cultural and linguistic minorities should not depend on meeting school expectations and adopting ideas and behaviors promoted by upper class white families.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in interests and skills should not be made to conform to a very narrow and arbitrary curriculum.

As a matter of justice, children who are diverse in characteristics should not be made to conform to prejudiced notions of normalcy.

When education is thought as a path out of poverty and towards social justice, we are only leaving off the hook those who create poverty, exclusion and violence in the first place.

The problem of social and economic inequality is not educational, it is political. It is about institutional arrangements that create exclusion and force people to submit and compete.

And schools can never be a substitute for what must be solved through laws granting access to nature, good housing, good food, health services, etc., etc., etc.

At the end of the day, it is always about elites not willing to give up power and privilege, and choosing instead to make the poor accept blame for their own poverty and oppression for their own "good".

It's not that schools can do nothing. Raising free and peaceful individuals, people literate in the ways of those in power, people not willing to submit as easily, should help.

But if we accept that the central problem in regard to inequality is about power, an education meant for liberation requires a radical departure from the adultism, standardization and control exercised in conventional schools.

An education meant for liberation requires an alignment between the overt and the hidden curriculum.

It requires that we stop confusing being good with being obedient, being responsible and professional with being cruel and alienated from our humanity, being hardworking with not playing and doing busy work, and being educated with having a diploma.

It requires understanding that values such as freedom, equality and respect are not just things we teach, but things we live and do.

Above all, it requires giving up pretensions and simulations in regard to learning that are only about exploiting children for the benefit of others.

I don't agree with everything said in this documentary, but the segment in min.18:21 illustrates what I want to say. There's a difference between making killer whales perform tricks for an audience and seeing them playing freely and for their own benefit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WImKDJuaCmU

The problem is: Freeing killer whales and treating them with respect would kill the business."
isabelrodríguez  schools  schooling  education  inequality  compulsory  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  standardization  policy  learning  lcproject  openstudioproject  libraries  justice  race  socialjustice  racism  colonization  decolonization  obedience  class  freedom  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  diversity  exploitation  children  adultism  ageism  control  power  submission  economics  capitalism  society  privilege  health  healthcare  food  hunger  equality  poverty  conformity  2017  business  businessinterest  corporatism  humanity  humanism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Adventures in lifelong learning: Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum
"Yesterday's Warsaw demonstrations were shocking in their scale (60,000 nationalists marched on Poland's independence day; many calling for 'a white Europe of brotherly nations'), but were also disturbing in the way that, whilst confronted with new displays of far-right extremism almost daily - we just don't seem shocked enough. Fascism is like that, of course. It is out-there in the Charlottesville marches, echoed in the words of Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson, yet it is also insidious. It creeps into lives - and becomes normalised in our language and behaviours. As Umberto Eco wrote in 'Ur-Fascism' (1995, p.8), 'Fascism..can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances – every day, in every part of the world.'

The warning signs

I won't use this blog to attempt to summarise important political discussions or try to analyse fascism in any detail; I am not a historian. But given the international rise of the far-right I believe that, as educators, we have a duty to be sensitive to these shifts and as a result should be reshaping our curricula and pedagogy to take account of it.

According to Merriam Webster, fascism is 'a political philosophy, movement, or regime... that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition'. Eco suggests a list of features that are typical of what he calls Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. As he states, 'These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it'. The first principle, that fascism derives from individual or social frustration, is enough in itself to set alarm bells ringing. Four other key features are:

1. The cult of tradition. The desire to return to a better age, and a fear of modernism: 'Truth has been already spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message'. (It should be noted that the first thing that fascist states seize is the curriculum).

2. Irrationalism, and the promotion of action over thought. 'Distrust of the intellectual world'.

3. Fear of difference (fascism is racist by definition). 'The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders.'

4. The fostering of a spirit of war, heroism and machismo. 'Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual 8 habits, from chastity to homosexuality).'

An anti-fascist curriculum

I suggest here that an anti-fascist curriculum should take account of warning signs such as Eco's, and should also pay heed to Lawrence Britt's 'Fourteen signs of fascism' which include Cronyism and Corruption, the suppression of organised labour, obsession with national security and identification of scapegoats as a unifying cause.

The word 'curriculum' here refers to more than just the syllabus; it incorporates all influences on a child (or adult's) education (buildings, pedagogy, classroom management, the implicit and explicit things that are taught). As teachers we often distract ourselves from the bigger picture; arguments about the specifics of practice give a sense that our classrooms operate as micro-entities, where children are unaffected by the social dysfunction surrounding them. Managing behaviour is seen as a battle of 'them versus us,' and the 'othering' of pupils causes us to neglect the development of our own self-awareness. For this reason, such a curriculum can only start with the teacher.

Below are a few ideas for what an anti-fascist curriculum manifesto might practically include. It can only ever be a guideline; wanting it to become policy or enacted in some way defeats the object of a movement that should sit outside the state. Likewise, it should not dictate the behaviour of teachers, only act as a stimulus that has the potential, not to make large-scale change, but to spark a 'line of flight' that disrupts the status quo. If any of the manifesto chimes with you or you want send any thoughts or ideas as I continue to extend it, please do not hesitate to comment or get in touch with me.

Towards an Anti-Fascist Curriculum - A Manifesto for Educators

1. We start by examining the 'fascist inside us all.'

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” (Foucoult, 1983)

We recognise our own interior desire for power and accept our responsibility as educators to reflect on this with others in spirit of critical challenge. We undertake critically reflective processes that make us question our own assumptions and prejudices, such as tests of cognitive dissonance to expose gender, race, age, disability bias, and intersections of these and other identities. We examine our own values, as individuals and within our organisations and consider the roots of these and their influences on our practice. Our reflective activity extends to our roles as leaders; we aim to continually refine and develop ourselves as human beings, alongside our students.

2. We promote difference over uniformity.

This includes de-centring the Enlightenment idea of the 'perfect human' in order to augment the voices of oppressed 'others'. We celebrate the living knowledge of our students, and examine the genealogy of the subjects we teach to decolonise and diversify our curricula. We make efforts to connect with others globally to inform our practice and maintain perspective. We challenge the threat of toxic masculinity through deliberate educational approaches which liberate men and boys from the need to conform to 'gender-specific' ideals (which further male supremacy). We reflect on our own privilege.

3. We accept complexity and uncertainty.

Whilst welcoming research-informed practice, we reject the fetishisation of science and the search for the 'ultimate truths' of education theory, which can limit educational autonomy.

4. We resist the reduction of 'education' to instrumentalism.

We widen the purpose of education to take into account the socialisation and subjectification of our students (Biesta, 2010). We believe in education as the practice of freedom (hooks, 1994) and consider each subject we teach as a potential vehicle to promote agency and social justice.

5. We are pro-social, critical pedagogues.

We use teaching methods that place an emphasis on the building of community, togetherness and belonging, which have a strong critical and reflective focus. Specific teaching innovations may include philosophical inquiry, restorative practice and thinking environments (and would include the implementation of critical digital pedagogies)."
fascism  sfsh  2017  education  uniformity  difference  complexity  cv  uncertainty  instrumentalism  schools  learning  freedom  community  togetherness  belonging  criticalpedagogy  pedagogy  bellhoooks  teaching  howweteach  openstudioproject  lcproject  restorativejustice  thinking  socialization  agency  socialjustice  science  scienticsm  autonomy  truth  enlightenment  humansism  othering  others  decolonization  diversity  curriculum  masculinity  gender  race  reflection  disability  power  responsibility  canon  love  exploitation  xenophobia  irrationalism  action  machismo  war  heroism  nationalism  tradition  modernism  cronyism  corruption  classroommanagement  manifesto  foucault  supremacy  patriarchy  privilege  disabilities  michelfoucault 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Delete Your Account Podcast: An American Colony
"On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest co-host Samantha Jacobs, a Chicago-based comedy writer and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Become a Patreon subscriber to hear our premium After Hours episode with Sam, in which we run the gamut from her PSL work to socialist memes, rap, and standup comedy. In the intro, we talk about the People's Congress of Resistance, a project of PSL and other organizations that Sam has been organizing around, as well as the health care debacle.

For the interview, Kumars and Sam talk to Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican activist and artist who works mainly with video, photography, text and installation. Sofia's work has been displayed at the San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, Teorética, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. She’s currently one of the co-directors of Beta-Local, a non-profit supporting art and critical thought in Puerto Rico. After learning about how Sofia became involved in politics, we learn the history of Puerto Rico's transition from a US colony to a "free associated state", a gimmick designed to relieve scrutiny of Puerto Rico's lack of sovereignty while still facilitating exploitation by US companies. Sofia explains how the current crises gripping Puerto Rico, caused or exacerbated by the US government, are rooted in the legacy of colonialism and enshrined in Puerto Rico's own constitution. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to foreign investors, money it is constitutionally required to pay back before it can spend a penny on social services. We also learn about the often overlooked $50 billion needed to fund Puerto Rico's pension system, as well as steep Medicaid cuts and loss of tax breaks affecting the island. We discuss the recent referendum on statehood vs. independence vs. status quo, boycotted by over 80% of the country. Sofia explains that no side of the debate has a plan for how to deal with the current crises, making the statehood vs. independence question less relevant. The only thing that is certain is that prevailing institutions will never save Puerto Rico, and alternative, grassroots structures must be built to weather the storm.

You can follow Sam on Twitter at @comradeSammy. You can check out Sofia's work at her website [http://hatoreina.com/ ]."
puertorico  history  2017  via:javierarbona  sofíagallisámuriente  kumarssalehi  samanthajacobs  us  politics  resistance  activism  sanjuan  betalocal  colonialism  exploitation  socialism  statehood  independence 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death - The New Yorker
"Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for a few hours after a day of mentoring.” You can guess what happened next.

Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” Lyft wrote, “she assumed they were simply a false alarm and continued driving.” As the contractions continued, Mary decided to drive to the hospital. “Since she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet,” Lyft went on, “she stayed in driver mode, and sure enough—ping!— she received a ride request en route to the hospital.”

“Luckily,” as Lyft put it, the passenger requested a short trip. After completing it, Mary went to the hospital, where she was informed that she was in labor. She gave birth to a daughter, whose picture appears in the post. (She’s wearing a “Little Miss Lyft” onesie.) The post concludes with a call for similar stories: “Do you have an exciting Lyft story you’d love to share? Tweet us your story at @lyft_CHI!”

Mary’s story looks different to different people. Within the ghoulishly cheerful Lyft public-relations machinery, Mary is an exemplar of hard work and dedication—the latter being, perhaps, hard to come by in a company that refuses to classify its drivers as employees. Mary’s entrepreneurial spirit—taking ride requests while she was in labor!—is an “exciting” example of how seamless and flexible app-based employment can be. Look at that hustle! You can make a quick buck with Lyft anytime, even when your cervix is dilating.

Lyft does not provide its drivers paid maternity leave or health insurance. (It offers to connect drivers with an insurance broker, and helpfully notes that “the Affordable Care Act offers many choices to make sure you’re covered.”) A third-party platform called SherpaShare, which some drivers use to track their earnings, found, in 2015, that Lyft drivers in Chicago net about eleven dollars per trip. Perhaps, as Lyft suggests, Mary kept accepting riders while experiencing contractions because “she was still a week away from her due date,” or “she didn’t believe she was going into labor yet.” Or maybe Mary kept accepting riders because the gig economy has further normalized the circumstances in which earning an extra eleven dollars can feel more important than seeking out the urgent medical care that these quasi-employers do not sponsor. In the other version of Mary’s story, she’s an unprotected worker in precarious circumstances. “I can’t pretend to know Mary’s economic situation,” Bryan Menegus at Gizmodo wrote, when the story first appeared. “Maybe she’s an heiress who happens to love the freedom of chauffeuring strangers from place to place on her own schedule. But that Lyft, for some reason, thought that this would reflect kindly on them is perhaps the most horrifying part.”

It does require a fairly dystopian strain of doublethink for a company to celebrate how hard and how constantly its employees must work to make a living, given that these companies are themselves setting the terms. And yet this type of faux-inspirational tale has been appearing more lately, both in corporate advertising and in the news. Fiverr, an online freelance marketplace that promotes itself as being for “the lean entrepreneur”—as its name suggests, services advertised on Fiverr can be purchased for as low as five dollars—recently attracted ire for an ad campaign called “In Doers We Trust.” One ad, prominently displayed on some New York City subway cars, features a woman staring at the camera with a look of blank determination. “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

Fiverr, which had raised a hundred and ten million dollars in venture capital by November, 2015, has more about the “In Doers We Trust” campaign on its Web site. In one video, a peppy female voice-over urges “doers” to “always be available,” to think about beating “the trust-fund kids,” and to pitch themselves to everyone they see, including their dentist. A Fiverr press release about “In Doers We Trust” states, “The campaign positions Fiverr to seize today’s emerging zeitgeist of entrepreneurial flexibility, rapid experimentation, and doing more with less. It pushes against bureaucratic overthinking, analysis-paralysis, and excessive whiteboarding.” This is the jargon through which the essentially cannibalistic nature of the gig economy is dressed up as an aesthetic. No one wants to eat coffee for lunch or go on a bender of sleep deprivation—or answer a call from a client while having sex, as recommended in the video. It’s a stretch to feel cheerful at all about the Fiverr marketplace, perusing the thousands of listings of people who will record any song, make any happy-birthday video, or design any book cover for five dollars. I’d guess that plenty of the people who advertise services on Fiverr would accept some “whiteboarding” in exchange for employer-sponsored health insurance.

At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear. Human-interest stories about the beauty of some person standing up to the punishments of late capitalism are regular features in the news, too. I’ve come to detest the local-news set piece about the man who walks ten or eleven or twelve miles to work—a story that’s been filed from Oxford, Alabama; from Detroit, Michigan; from Plano, Texas. The story is always written as a tearjerker, with praise for the person’s uncomplaining attitude; a car is usually donated to the subject in the end. Never mentioned or even implied is the shamefulness of a job that doesn’t permit a worker to afford his own commute.

There’s a painful distance between the chipper narratives surrounding labor and success in America and the lived experience of workers. A similar conflict drove Nathanael West, in 1934, to publish the novel “A Cool Million,” which satirized the Horatio Alger bootstrap fables that remained popular into the Great Depression. “Alger is to America what Homer was to the Greeks,” West once wrote. His protagonist in “A Cool Million,” Lemuel Pitkin, is an innocent, energetic striver, tasked with saving his mother’s house from foreclosure. A series of Alger-esque plot twists ensue. But Pitkin, rather than triumphing, ends up losing his teeth, his eye, his leg, his scalp, and finally his thumb. Morris Dickstein, in his book “Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression,” notes, “The novel ends with Lem as a vaudeville clown being beaten nightly until he simply falls apart.” A former President named Shagpoke Whipple gives a speech valorizing Pitkin’s fate, extolling “the right of every American boy to go into the world and . . . make his fortune by industry.” Whipple describes Pitkin’s dismemberment—“lovingly,” Dickstein adds—and tells his audience that, through Pitkin’s hard work and enthusiastic martyrdom, “America became again American.”"
jiatolentino  gigeconomy  freelancing  capitalism  culture  work  labor  exploitation  horatioalger  lemuelpitkin  morrisdickstein  uber  lyft  fiverr  self-reliance  individualism  economics  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  health  healthinsurance  well-being  affordablecareact  sleepdeprivation 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What is NEOLIBERALISM? on Vimeo
"What is Neoliberalism? is a video by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, featuring interviews with Lisa Duggan, Miranda Joseph, Sealing Cheng, Elizabeth Bernstein, Dean Spade, Sandra K. Soto, Teresa Gowan, and Ana Amuchástegui. In the video, contributors describe the various meanings that have been attributed to the term “neoliberalism,” the neoliberal economic policies developed through the IMF and the World Bank, and the usefulness of “neoliberalism” as an organizing rubric for contemporary scholars and activists. Drawing from research on immigration policy, the prison-industrial complex, poverty management, and reproductive rights, they sketch some of neoliberalism’s intersections with gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation. Recorded Fall 2012.

What is Neoliberalism? was published in issue 11.1-11.2 of The Scholar & Feminist Online, “Gender, Justice, and Neoliberal Transformations.” See the entire issue at sfonline.barnard.edu/gender-justice-and-neoliberal-transformations for additional resources."

[Also here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kL4p3llmHk ]

[See also: http://sfonline.barnard.edu/gender-justice-and-neoliberal-transformations/what-is-neoliberalism/ ]
2012  neoliberalism  lisaduggan  mirandajoseph  sealingcheng  latinamerica  worldbank  imf  globalization  economics  politics  liberalism  elizabethbernstein  deanspade  sandrasoto  teresagowan  us  anaamuchástegui  gender  sexuality  capitalism  elitism  marxism  neo-marxism  neo-foucaultism  wendybrown  nicholasrose  culture  society  markets  statetransformation  carceralstate  massincarceration  welfarestate  wealthconcentration  labor  work  trade  freetrade  exploitation  justice  socialjustice  immigration  prisons  systemsthinking  welfare  moralism  violence  deathpenalty  capitalpunishment  power  control  poverty  discipline  sovereignty  foucault  michelfoucault 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Episode 4: The Solidarity Economy by Upstream
"In this episode we explore a phenomenon that has existed throughout centuries both within and alongside Capitalism. Wherever relationships have been based on reciprocity, sustainability, and democratic governance you'll find the Solidarity Economy. We learn of it's origin and about how it is strengthened by countermovements and during times of crisis. We follow its presence throughout the history of a particular marginalized community in the U.S., celebrating the courage of African American cooperative thought and practice. We then paint a picture of a modern solidarity response to economic austerity. And finally, we dream about it's potential in the face of ecological peril and plan for what it will take to grow the Solidarity Economy to serve as a movement of movements.

Featuring:

Michael Ventura - Co-author with James Hillman of We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy – And the World's Getting Worse, columnist of Letters at 3AM with the Austin Chronicle

Caroline Woolard - Artist & organizer whose work explores intersections between art and the solidarity economy

Michael Lewis - Soildarity economy researcher; Co-author of The Resilience Imperative

Pat Conaty - Research associate Cooperatives UK, Co-author of The Resilience Imperative

Jessica Gordon Nembard - Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, author of Collective Courage: A history of African-American Cooperative Economic Thought & Practice

Biba Schoenmaker - Co-Founder of Broodfonds Makers

Stuart Field - Founder of Breadfunds UK

Jos Veldhuizen - Member of Broodfunds, Amsterdam"
solidarity  economics  michaelventura  carolinewoolard  michaellewis  jessicagordonnembard  bibaschoenmaker  stuartfield  josveldhuizen  reciprocity  sustainability  cooperative  capitalism  governance  deregulation  regulation  democracy  cooperation  austerity  socialjustice  markets  redistribution  race  racism  coops  plunder  inequality  exploitation 
february 2017 by robertogreco
POLITICAL THEORY - Karl Marx - YouTube
"Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out certain of its problems. The School of Life, a pro-Capitalist institution, takes a look.



FURTHER READING

“Most people agree that we need to improve our economic system somehow. It threatens our planet through excessive consumption, distracts us with irrelevant advertising, leaves people hungry and without healthcare, and fuels unnecessary wars. Yet we’re also often keen to dismiss the ideas of its most famous and ambitious critic, Karl Marx. This isn’t very surprising. In practice, his political and economic ideas have been used to design disastrously planned economies and nasty dictatorships. Frankly, the remedies Marx proposed for the ills of the world now sound a bit demented. He thought we should abolish private property. People should not be allowed to own things. At certain moments one can sympathise. But it’s like wanting to ban gossip or forbid watching television. It’s going to war with human behaviour. And Marx believed the world would be put to rights by a dictatorship of the proletariat; which does not mean anything much today. Openly Marxist parties received a total of only 1,685 votes in the 2010 UK general election, out of the nearly 40 million ballots cast…”"
karlmarx  marxism  capitalism  2014  work  labor  specialization  purpose  alienation  disconnection  hierarchy  efficiency  communism  belonging  insecurity  economics  primitiveaccumulation  accumulation  profit  theft  exploitation  instability  precarity  crises  abundance  scarcity  shortage  productivity  leisure  unemployment  freedom  employment  inequality  wealth  wealthdistribution  marriage  relationships  commodityfetishism  feminism  oppression  ideology  values  valuejudgements  worth  consumerism  materialism  anxiety  competition  complacency  conformity  communistmanifesto  inheritance  privateproperty  banking  communication  transportation  eduction  publiceducation  frederickengels  generalists  specialists  daskapital 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Brexit Stage Right: What Now? - @robfahey
"Fifth and finally, this isn’t just about the UK. Brexit has come about as a consequence not so much of the European Union or its policies, but as an expression of a general anger and dissatisfaction that has also reared its head across much of the developed world. It’s not unreasonable to compare the UK’s Leave campaign with Donald Trump in the USA, Le Pen in France or Wilders in Holland. Voting for Brexit was characterised by nationalist sentiment and a strong desire to “take back” Britain’s sovereignty from the ill-defined others who have appropriated it. It thrived in communities that have seen widening inequality and economic malaise even as they watched political leaders turn up on TV night after night to talk about economic recovery; communities that may have been delivered a mortal blow by the 2008 recession and the austerity policies which followed, but which had already been suffering from neglect and economic abuse for decades before that, as successive governments tore up more and more pages of the post-war social contract in favour of the shiny new religion of markets and efficiency. There was a time when those communities turned to left-wing movements for their salvation, to unions and to the Labour party; with much of the power of the unions broken and the Labour party pursuing aspirational middle class voters, opportunities have been opened for new and far less savoury political movements to take root. At their core is a deep dissatisfaction and anger not just with individual political actors but with the very institutions of democracy and representative government; a deep conviction that it is not merely that specific parties or policies that have caused people’s quality of life to decline, but that the whole system is stacked against them. Thus, anything that’s seen as part of the system – be it politicians, the media, or even academics and independent experts – is suspect. It is not an attitude that calls for political change, for a new party in power or a new prime minister; it is an attitude that calls for the tearing down of everything, and offers nothing with which to replace it. It is frightening precisely because, in its absolute conviction that the institutions of democracy themselves are a vast conspiracy against the common man, it ends up being insatiable; even if today’s Brexit leaders become Britain’s leaders, in doing so they will become part of “the system” and face the anger of the same people who now cheer them on. The cycle will continue until someone turns up with the capacity to tame the monster that has been conjured up by economic hardship, inequality and unthinking nationalism. Unfortunately, the lessons of the past tell us that such a person is unlikely to be benevolent.

None of this is unique to Britain, and none of it can be fixed by anything less than a fundamental rethink of how we have chosen to structure our society and our economies. Even as market capitalism and globalisation have done wonders at lifting the world’s poorest people out of poverty – an achievement for which capitalism does not get remotely enough credit – it has begun to run out of rope in the developed world. In nations from Japan to Western Europe to North America, inequality is growing and standards of living are slipping. Labour market reforms have turned whole generations into disposable people; I can’t blame British people for laughing off the notion that the EU has protected them in the workplace, when companies like Sports Direct have based their business model off exploiting every loophole, legal and otherwise, no matter how desperately cruel and inhumane, that might allow them to wring more money, more profitability out of their vulnerable, poorly paid staff. “If you leave the EU, you’ll lose your workers rights!” is no argument at all to someone whose zero-hours contract leaves them in desperate financial instability, or whose exploitation by an avaricious, unscrupulous employer has been rubber-stamped by the government itself in the form of a Workfare deal.

The Brexit vote wasn’t just a rejection of the EU; it was a rejection of the whole system, of the whole establishment, of the whole set of institutions and practices that make up the developed world. It was, in ways, a rejection of modernity – a demand to turn back the clock. Turning back the clock isn’t in anyone’s power to deliver. If we want to break this dangerous cycle of economic inequality, social cleavage and political extremism before it rolls out of control, though, it’s beholden upon our countries and institutions to start paying attention to inequality, to public services, to quality of life and to the huge swathe of the electorate for whom every mention of the phrase “economic recovery” in the past two decades has just been salt in the wound."
robfahey  2016  via:tealtan  brexit  elitism  government  policy  economics  europe  us  unions  labor  work  inequality  establishment  austerity  politics  eu  france  holland  netherlands  recession  2008  democracy  power  change  wealthinequality  incomeinequality  globalization  poverty  capitalism  japan  exploitation  organization  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Apploitation in a city of instaserfs | Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
"The most common defence of the sharing economy I hear is, “if it’s so bad, why are so many people doing it?” Many do it out of desperation. I’ve talked to a number of drivers who will work over 30 hours every weekend in addition to a full-time job just to have enough money to pay rent and take care of their kids. It can also seem like you’re making a lot more money than you really are if you’re not diligently adding up your expenses, many of which are invisible. For example, taxes aren’t taken out of your paycheck, so when April comes around it can be a shock to discover how much you owe.

On the other hand, the sharing economy can be a great thing for some of the workers. If you listen to the third episode of the “Instaserfs” series you will meet Brooklyn, an amazing TaskRabbit worker I hired to help me finish the show. She quit a six-figure salary to pursue her passion (a fashion blog at www.boisclub.com) She can do that and still pay the rent because of the flexibility she enjoys as an independent contractor. But she is legitimately an entrepreneur, not the average sharing economy worker..

There is a place in this world for the sharing economy, and it could be a beautiful thing, but where I live these companies run the show. There are no rules. The apps are breaking the spirit of the law by abusing the independent contractor loophole and actively encourage (e.g., through dubious car placards) actually breaking the law. But it will only ever be the workers, not the companies, who are punished. If you’re going to let the sharing economy into your country, dear Canada, please take control of the situation. Don’t just let the invisible hand lead you wherever it wants you to go."
2016  andrewcallaway  sharingeconomy  apploitation  exploitation  inequality  labor  work  uber  taskrabbit  lyft  postmates  instacart 
january 2016 by robertogreco
The Hypocrisy of ‘Helping’ the Poor - The New York Times
"EVERY so often, you hear grotesquely wealthy American chief executives announce in sanctimonious tones the intention to use their accumulated hundreds of millions, or billions, “to lift people out of poverty.” Sometimes they are referring to Africans, but sometimes they are referring to Americans. And here’s the funny thing about that: In most cases, they have made their fortunes by impoverishing whole American communities, having outsourced their manufacturing to China or India, Vietnam or Mexico.

Buried in a long story about corruption in China in The New York Times a couple of months ago was the astonishing fact that the era of “supercharged growth” over the past several decades had the effect of “lifting more than 600 million people out of poverty.” From handouts? From Habitat for Humanity? From the Clinton Global Initiative?

No, oddly enough, China has been enriched by American-supplied jobs, making most of the destined-for-the-dump merchandise you find on store shelves all over America, every piece of plastic you can name, as well as Apple products, Barbie dolls or Nike LeBron basketball shoes retailed in the United States for up to $320 a pair. “The uplifting of impoverished people” was one of the reasons Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, gave in 1998 for moving his factories out of the United States.

The Chinese success, helped by American investment, is perhaps not astonishing after all; it has coincided with a large number of Americans’ being put out of work and plunged into poverty.

In a wish to get to grips with local mystagogies and obfuscations I have spent the past three years traveling in the Deep South, usually on back roads, mainly in the smaller towns, in the same spirit of inquiry that vitalized me on journeys in China and Africa and elsewhere. Yes, I saw the magnolia blossoms, the battlefields of the Civil War, the antebellum mansions of superfluous amplitude; the catfish farms and the cotton fields and the blues bars; attended the gun shows and the church services and the football games.

But if there was one experience of the Deep South that stayed with me it was the sight of shutdown factories and towns with their hearts torn out of them, and few jobs. There are outsourcing stories all over America, but the effects are stark in the Deep South.

Take a Delta town such as Hollandale, Miss. Two years ago, the entire tax base of this community of around 3,500 was (so the now-deceased and much-mourned mayor Melvin Willis told me) less than $300,000. What the town had on hand to spend for police officers, firefighters, public works, outreach, welfare and town hall salaries was roughly the amount of a Bill or Hillary one-night-stand lecture fee; what Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, earns in a couple of days.

When Hollandale’s citizens lost their jobs in the cotton fields to mechanization they found work nearby, in Greenville and elsewhere, in factories that made clothes, bikes, tools and much else — for big brands like Fruit of the Loom and Schwinn.

They are gone now. Across the Mississippi River, Monticello, Ark., and other towns made carpets and furniture while Forrest City produced high-quality TV sets. The people I spoke to in the town of Wynne, known for its footwear, said they’d be happy to make Nikes if they were paid a living wage.

I found towns in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas that looked like towns in Zimbabwe, just as overlooked and beleaguered. It’s globalization, people say. Everyone knows that, everyone moans about it. Big companies have always sought cheaper labor, moving from North to South in the United States, looking for the hungriest, the most desperate, the least organized, the most exploitable. It has been an American story. What had begun as domestic relocations went global, with such success that many C.E.O.s became self-conscious about their profits and their stupendous salaries.

To me, globalization is the search for a new plantation, and cheaper labor; globalization means that, by outsourcing, it is possible to impoverish an American community to the point where it is indistinguishable from a hard-up town in the dusty heartland of a third world country.

“I took an assistant Treasury secretary, Cyrus Amir-Mokri, down from Memphis,” William Bynum, the chief executive of the Hope Credit Union, told me in his office in Jackson, Miss. “We passed through Tunica, Mound Bayou and Clarksdale, and ended up in Utica. All through the Delta. He just sat and looked sad. He said he could not believe such conditions existed in the United States.”

Now the Delta is worse off, the bulk of its factories shut, the work sent overseas. Again, this is the same old story, but need it be so?

When Mr. Cook of Apple said he was going to hand over his entire fortune to charity, he was greatly praised by most people, but not by me. It so happened that at that time I was traveling up and down Tim Cook’s home state of Alabama, and all I saw were desolate towns and hollowed-out economies, where jobs had been lost to outsourcing, and education had been defunded by shortsighted politicians."



"The strategy of getting rich on cheap labor in foreign countries while offering a sop to America’s poor with charity seems to me a wicked form of indirection. If these wealthy chief executives are such visionaries, why don’t they understand the simple fact that what people want is not a handout along with the uplift ditty but a decent job?

Some companies have brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States, a move called “reshoring,” but so far this is little more than a gesture. It seems obvious that executives of American companies should invest in the Deep South as they did in China. If this modest proposal seems an outrageous suggestion, to make products for Nike, Apple, Microsoft and others in the South, it is only because the American workers would have to be paid fairly. Perhaps some chief executives won’t end up multibillionaires as a result, but neither will they have to provide charity to lift Americans out of poverty."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  exploitation  2015  paultheroux  inequality  indulgences  capitalism  hypocrisy  policy  economics  systemsthinking  globalization  outsourcing  charity  timcook  offshoring  labor  work  us  poverty  reshoring  south  nike  apple  southcarolina  mississippi  alabama  arkansas  charitableindustrialcomplex  power  control 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Forced to Love the Grind | Jacobin
"During the Cold War, defense companies like Lockheed in the Santa Clara Valley drew scores of ambitious scientists; these workers seemed to share certain personality traits, including social awkwardness, emotional detachment, and, namely, a single-mindedness about their work to the point at which “they devoted every waking hour to it, usually to the exclusion of nonwork relationships, exercise, sleep, food, and even personal care.” In the late ’50s, Lockheed’s own company psychologists created a label for this particular bundle of traits: “the sci-tech personality.”

Managers had found a type of worker who gladly put aside, seemingly for the long term, nonwork desires and obligations, and even the most basic physical needs of hygiene and sleep. These workers were branded not as worrisome but as “passionate,” with all the positive connotations of that word. And by the 1980s, a valley full of “passionate” workers was fertile ground for a burgeoning tech industry. Passionate overworkers like Steve Jobs became icons, not just to tech workers but also to the culture at large.

With passion as a new workplace requirement, it needed to be measured in some way, so that the passion of individual workers could be compared and used to mete out rewards and punishments. Enter the managers, who resorted to the laziest, most easily graphable, least imaginative way possible to gauge this intangible quality: hours spent in the office.

This intractable policy remains largely in place today. “We just don’t know any other way to measure [workers], except by their hours,” an office manager sighed to a team of workplace consultants in 2014. This exasperation was aired a year after the consultants did a study of the same workplace, which revealed that employees were more productive when encouraged to take intermittent breaks and were (gasp) “permitted to leave as soon as they had accomplished a designated amount of work.”

Passion as measured by hours has put the workweek on a course of runaway inflation, to the point at which people are actually shortening their lives and endangering others — sometimes in sudden, tragic form — in pursuit of an ever-elusive ideal of capitalistic individualism."



"The falsity of passion-as-hours logic is that, quite simply, it produces shoddy work, which is not what someone who is ostensibly passionate about his or her work would allow. Emphasizing passion as a value in employees diminishes other potential — seemingly obvious — attitudes toward work that have more to bear on the quality of the work itself, things like competence and good faith.

Passion, overwork, and 24/7 temporality are linked together by much more than the need for simple managerial metrics. Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming argue that work today is of such a nature that it exploits workers not only during their time in the workplace, but also in their very act of living.

Employers seek to capture our “human qualities like social intelligence, reciprocity, communication, and shared initiative.” They add, “The traditional point of production — say the factory assembly line — is scattered to every corner of our lives since it is now our very sociality that creates value for business.”

This logic applies to nearly every level of the workforce, from the public face an executive provides for his corporation to barista small talk. When personal authenticity is demanded every moment at work, “our authenticity is no longer a retreat from the mandatory fakeness of the office, but the very medium through which work squeezes the life out of us.” If everyone is always working anyway and the distinctions between our work and nonwork selves are muddled, staying in the office for an extra hour or three doesn’t seem a terribly significant decision.

And when a worker has internalized a DWYL ethic, it hardly seems like a decision at all."
2015  miyatokumitsu  passion  labor  employment  siliconvalley  work  fatigue  wellbeing  exploitation  productivity  capitalism  sararobinson 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Teaching Machines and Turing Machines: The History of the Future of Labor and Learning
"In all things, all tasks, all jobs, women are expected to perform affective labor – caring, listening, smiling, reassuring, comforting, supporting. This work is not valued; often it is unpaid. But affective labor has become a core part of the teaching profession – even though it is, no doubt, “inefficient.” It is what we expect – stereotypically, perhaps – teachers to do. (We can debate, I think, if it’s what we reward professors for doing. We can interrogate too whether all students receive care and support; some get “no excuses,” depending on race and class.)

What happens to affective teaching labor when it runs up against robots, against automation? Even the tasks that education technology purports to now be able to automate – teaching, testing, grading – are shot through with emotion when done by humans, or at least when done by a person who’s supposed to have a caring, supportive relationship with their students. Grading essays isn’t necessarily burdensome because it’s menial, for example; grading essays is burdensome because it is affective labor; it is emotionally and intellectually exhausting.

This is part of our conundrum: teaching labor is affective not simply intellectual. Affective labor is not valued. Intellectual labor is valued in research. At both the K12 and college level, teaching of content is often seen as menial, routine, and as such replaceable by machine. Intelligent machines will soon handle the task of cultivating human intellect, or so we’re told.

Of course, we should ask what happens when we remove care from education – this is a question about labor and learning. What happens to thinking and writing when robots grade students’ essays, for example. What happens when testing is standardized, automated? What happens when the whole educational process is offloaded to the machines – to “intelligent tutoring systems,” “adaptive learning systems,” or whatever the latest description may be? What sorts of signals are we sending students?

And what sorts of signals are the machines gathering in turn? What are they learning to do?
Often, of course, we do not know the answer to those last two questions, as the code and the algorithms in education technologies (most technologies, truth be told) are hidden from us. We are becoming as law professor Frank Pasquale argues a “black box society.” And the irony is hardly lost on me that one of the promises of massive collection of student data under the guise of education technology and learning analytics is to crack open the “black box” of the human brain.

We still know so little about how the brain works, and yet, we’ve adopted a number of metaphors from our understanding of that organ to explain how computers operate: memory, language, intelligence. Of course, our notion of intelligence – its measurability – has its own history, one wrapped up in eugenics and, of course, testing (and teaching) machines. Machines now both frame and are framed by this question of intelligence, with little reflection on the intellectual and ideological baggage that we carry forward and hard-code into them."



"We’re told by some automation proponents that instead of a future of work, we will find ourselves with a future of leisure. Once the robots replace us, we will have immense personal freedom, so they say – the freedom to pursue “unproductive” tasks, the freedom to do nothing at all even, except I imagine, to continue to buy things.
On one hand that means that we must address questions of unemployment. What will we do without work? How will we make ends meet? How will this affect identity, intellectual development?

Yet despite predictions about the end of work, we are all working more. As games theorist Ian Bogost and others have observed, we seem to be in a period of hyper-employment, where we find ourselves not only working numerous jobs, but working all the time on and for technology platforms. There is no escaping email, no escaping social media. Professionally, personally – no matter what you say in your Twitter bio that your Tweets do not represent the opinions of your employer – we are always working. Computers and AI do not (yet) mark the end of work. Indeed, they may mark the opposite: we are overworked by and for machines (for, to be clear, their corporate owners).

Often, we volunteer to do this work. We are not paid for our status updates on Twitter. We are not compensated for our check-in’s in Foursquare. We don’t get kick-backs for leaving a review on Yelp. We don’t get royalties from our photos on Flickr.

We ask our students to do this volunteer labor too. They are not compensated for the data and content that they generate that is used in turn to feed the algorithms that run TurnItIn, Blackboard, Knewton, Pearson, Google, and the like. Free labor fuels our technologies: Forum moderation on Reddit – done by volunteers. Translation of the courses on Coursera and of the videos on Khan Academy – done by volunteers. The content on pretty much every “Web 2.0” platform – done by volunteers.

We are working all the time; we are working for free.

It’s being framed, as of late, as the “gig economy,” the “freelance economy,” the “sharing economy” – but mostly it’s the service economy that now comes with an app and that’s creeping into our personal not just professional lives thanks to billions of dollars in venture capital. Work is still precarious. It is low-prestige. It remains unpaid or underpaid. It is short-term. It is feminized.

We all do affective labor now, cultivating and caring for our networks. We respond to the machines, the latest version of ELIZA, typing and chatting away hoping that someone or something responds, that someone or something cares. It’s a performance of care, disguising what is the extraction of our personal data."



"Personalization. Automation. Management. The algorithms will be crafted, based on our data, ostensibly to suit us individually, more likely to suit power structures in turn that are increasingly opaque.

Programmatically, the world’s interfaces will be crafted for each of us, individually, alone. As such, I fear, we will lose our capacity to experience collectivity and resist together. I do not know what the future of unions looks like – pretty grim, I fear; but I do know that we must enhance collective action in order to resist a future of technological exploitation, dehumanization, and economic precarity. We must fight at the level of infrastructure – political infrastructure, social infrastructure, and yes technical infrastructure.

It isn’t simply that we need to resist “robots taking our jobs,” but we need to challenge the ideologies, the systems that loath collectivity, care, and creativity, and that champion some sort of Randian individual. And I think the three strands at this event – networks, identity, and praxis – can and should be leveraged to precisely those ends.

A future of teaching humans not teaching machines depends on how we respond, how we design a critical ethos for ed-tech, one that recognizes, for example, the very gendered questions at the heart of the Turing Machine’s imagined capabilities, a parlor game that tricks us into believing that machines can actually love, learn, or care."
2015  audreywatters  education  technology  academia  labor  work  emotionallabor  affect  edtech  history  highered  highereducation  teaching  schools  automation  bfskinner  behaviorism  sexism  howweteach  alanturing  turingtest  frankpasquale  eliza  ai  artificialintelligence  robots  sharingeconomy  power  control  economics  exploitation  edwardthorndike  thomasedison  bobdylan  socialmedia  ianbogost  unemployment  employment  freelancing  gigeconomy  serviceeconomy  caring  care  love  loving  learning  praxis  identity  networks  privacy  algorithms  freedom  danagoldstein  adjuncts  unions  herbertsimon  kevinkelly  arthurcclarke  sebastianthrun  ellenlagemann  sidneypressey  matthewyglesias  karelčapek  productivity  efficiency  bots  chatbots  sherryturkle 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Do the Robot – The New Inquiry
"Miya Tokumitsu had a good critique of the Do What You Love ideology in Jacobin, in which she argues that “do what you love” means turn your passion into human capital — the real subsumption of identity in another guise. She writes,
According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.

Having a “real” passion for your job is the extension of exhibiting “genuine” feeling in the workplace, but instead of serving a customer, it serves a boss or client. Again the metric that establishes the reality of feeling is ex post profit. If no one wants your passionate work, it’s not really passionate and you are self-deluded.

Tokumitsu argues that genuinely lovable work is a privilege that comes at the expense of lots of unlovable work being done by others:
Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished).

As a result, Tokumitsu argues, unlovable work becomes “dangerously invisible” to those whom it permits to do what they love. And in the meantime, those who love what they do work harder for less or no pay.

But the logic that sees competitive advantage in the “human touch” means that all work must be lovable and be performed as such for customers (and the managers who are supposed to be their proxy). Unlovable work isn’t made invisible but is made to seem visibly, irrepressibly loved. After all, what keeps a crappy job from being automated, from this perspective, is the joy in it that a worker can manifest and woo customers with. What prevents a job from being automated is not necessarily its complexity, as Peter Frase explains in this post (and elsewhere):
From the perspective of the boss, replacing a worker with a machine will be more appealing to the degree that the machine is:

• Cheaper than the human worker
• More convenient and easier to control than the human worker

If workers demand more wages, machines become more attractive to bosses. Likewise with “meaningful work”: If workers demand more meaningful, lovable work, then they become less “convenient” to bosses. But workers whose value rests in how much they show they love their job are quite easy to control. Servility is built into the practice. Frase writes that “the truly dystopian prospect is that the worker herself is treated as if she were a machine rather than being replaced by one.” Even more dystopian is the prospect of being treated like a de facto machine while being expected to express boundless “human” joy about it.

The threat of automation, then, can be used to extract more emotional labor and more competitive advantage from humans. After all, one of the few things a robot can’t supply is enthusiasm."
labor  robhorning  authenticity  exploitation  robots  automation  emotionallabor  sales  2015  economics  business  peterfrase  miyatokumitsu  work  humans  huamntouch  passion 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Apple’s Modernism, Google’s Modernism: Some reflections on Alphabet, Inc. and a suggestion that modernist architect Adolf Loos would be totally into Soylent | Works Cited
"These temporal aesthetics, Google’s included, tell us something about the repurposing of modernist style for post-Fordist capital. Modernist style still succeeds in evoking newnesses even when wholly “unoriginal” because it so successfully dehistoricizes.20) That it still totally works, and that it remains congenial to capital in the face of capital’s transformations, hints that we have in modernist ideology a powerful actor.

Consequently, the study of early twentieth-century style can be understood as neither irrelevant nor innocent. The quasi-Darwinian, developmentalist ideologies of Silicon Valley have their correlates in styles that disguise their basic violence as design. Its results are, among other things, political transformations of the Bay Area that seek to do to San Francisco what Rob Rinehart did to his apartment—rely heavily on exploited labor that has been geographically displaced. It imagines people of the future living side by side with people who lag behind—but not literally side by side of course! because the laggards commute from Vallejo. Anyone who isn’t on board with the spatial segregation of the temporally disparate is an “enemy of innovation.” Again, this is actually less about time than about hierarchy. After all, the temporal difference between any two people in existence at the same time is completely made up: it’s an effect of style, which is in turn (if we follow Loos’s logic) a proxy for economic dominance. Time is, so to speak, money."
modernism  nataliacecire  2015  apple  google  siliconvalley  design  economics  atemporality  robrinehart  adolfloos  childhood  primitivism  developmentalism  aphabet  puerility  naomischor  siannengai  power  systemsthinking  displacement  innovation  ideology  californianideology  history  newness  exploitation  labor  segregation  hierarchy  technology  technosolutionism  domination 
august 2015 by robertogreco
The Border Crossing Observatory
"The Border Crossing Observatory (BOb) is an innovative virtual research centre that connects Australian and international stakeholders to high quality, independent and cutting edge research on border crossings.

Based at Monash University, BOb draws together an international network of critical criminologists and researchers from related disciplines who work in connection with key NGOs to examine border crossings and irregular migration differently, putting the experiences of human beings at the centre.

BOb is built on a strong foundation of empirical research. Our researchers adopt inter-disciplinary social science approaches to research irregular migration and border control.

Our research seeks to transform knowledge and develop new ways of thinking, bringing new insights into policy debates associated with irregular migration and border control.

Our Research Agenda includes:

• External Border Control
• Internal Border Control
• Trafficking and Labour Exploitation
• Peacebuilding
• Global Conflict and Gender Security"

[video: https://vimeo.com/60050156 ]
borders  policy  geopolitics  bordercrossings  trafficking  labor  exploitation  migration  immigration  peacebuilding  globalconflict  security 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Buzz Andersen — This—Bob was saying—was the straightforward...
“This—Bob was saying—was the straightforward solution to the greatest mystery of all: Why is the world so unfair? Why all that savage economic injustice, those brutal wars, the everyday corporate cruelty? The answer: psychopaths. That part of the brain that doesn’t function right. You’re standing on an escalator and you watch the people going past on the opposite escalator. If you could climb inside their brains, you would see we aren’t all the same. We aren’t all good people just trying to do good. Some of us are psychopaths. And psychopaths are to blame for this brutal, misshapen society. They’re the jagged rocks thrown into the still pond.”

[…]

“Sociopaths love power. They love winning. If you take loving kindness out of the human brain, there’s not much left except the will to win.”

“Which means you’ll find a preponderance of them at the top of the tree?” I said.

“Yes,” she said. “The higher you go up the ladder, the greater the number of sociopaths you’ll find there.” “So the wars, the injustices, the exploitation, all of these things occur because of that tiny percent of the population up there who are mad in this certain way?” I asked…“I think a lot of these things are initiated by them,” she said. “It is a frightening and huge thought,” I said, “that the ninety-nine percent of us wandering around down here are having our lives pushed and pulled around by that psychopathic fraction up there.”

—Jon Ronson: The Psychopath Test
sopciopaths  psychopaths  competition  kindness  humans  jonronson  injustice  exploitation  power  control  cruelty  behavior 
may 2015 by robertogreco
No legal merit | A Working Library
"In happier news, The Verge reports on Amazon’s shameless enforcement of non-competes for low-wage temporary workers, and Amazon rapidly about-faces. Nevermind pageviews and reading time, let’s measure publishing success by the actual change we bring about. Metrics could include unjust laws repealed, despicable company policies reversed, social welfare improved, centimeters of sea level increase averted, pseudo-science rejected, reduction in atmospheric carbon, happy children, puppies with loving homes. I’m only half-kidding. Business metrics are critical, but they’re not why we pour our hearts into this work, and we can’t ever let the numbers obscure that."



"An interesting aside: media Twitter was understandably aghast at Facebook’s new initiative, while seemingly unmoved by similar patterns on YouTube. I suspect this is because we have feels about words that we don’t have with video. It’s worth noting that while the web has become the de facto distribution method for video, the internet—that is, the open network of hypertext documents—privileges words over images. HTML is words annotating words. Words are foundational to HTML; images and video are not. Even our relationship to images is driven by language: one can “read” a picture, and our interpretation of images is constrained by words. I’m tempted to think our angst about the economy of letters should be directed at the underlying economic concerns—of which publishing is only one victim—and away from the words themselves. The words will be fine."
2015  mandybrown  metrics  journalism  activism  justice  policy  politics  business  measurement  publishing  success  change  changemaking  socialwelfare  society  law  legal  progress  climatechange  science  education  happiness  ellenpao  gender  inequality  amazon  labor  exploitation  women  facebook  html  text  images  video  youtube 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The World Bank, Poverty Creation and the Banality of Evil
"World Bank ideology is deeply linked to the belief that corporate interests and country interests are one in the same. The old US adage of "what's good for GM is good for America" has expanded through globalization into wholesale neocolonialism through multinational corporations."



"We are also told that FDI will lift all boats in the global economy. Indeed, the majority of neoliberal economic policy (in both rich and poor countries as all governments have adopted this logic) is geared toward an increase in FDI. Yet, we know that for every dollar of wealth created since 2008, 93 cents goes to the top 1%. Therefore, by definition, wealth creation creates inequality. So how then could more concentrated wealth solve the problems of the world's poor?"



"If we look at the history of the World Bank, these command-and-control structures have contributed to generations of World Bank technocrats' ability to impose life-denying structural adjustment programs without any accountability or redress for their actions. Not only are they not apologetic for their consequences, intentional or otherwise, but they actually remain smug in their "expertise" and forced imposition of policy. Many believe that these types of policies are the historical relic of an old Bank that has matured and learned from the ills of its past. The Bank's rebranding belies the fact that it continues to strong-arm countries into pro-corporate, anti-poor, neoliberal policies through new mechanisms such as their Doing Business rankings and the Enabling the Business of Agriculture project, which force countries into a race to the bottom, cutting environmental and social standards, slashing corporate taxes and eliminating trade barriers protecting local industries (a practice rich countries continue to deploy for their own development).

This type of behavior holds deep corollaries with Hannah Arendt's analysis of the Adolf Eichmann trial in which she coined the term "the banality of evil." As Judith Butler reminds us, the banality Arendt is referring to is not just how commonplace violence became or how desensitized the perpetrators were to the horrors they inflicted. Rather "what had become banal - and astonishingly so - was the failure to think. Indeed, at one point the failure to think is precisely the name of the crime that Eichmann commits. We might think at first that this is a scandalous way to describe his horrendous crime, but for Arendt the consequence of non-thinking is genocidal, or certainly can be.""



"We seem to have embarked on the late stages of the banality of evil. First, the technocratic response adds up to little more than denial. In order to further the interests of the systems it serves, it fought smallholder farming until the facts were undeniable. The second is sincerity to the point where many of the bankers believe they are working in the interests of the same people they are harming. This is manifest in the giant banner erected on the side of their DC office that says "End Poverty 2030" or the Bank's tagline about ending poverty.

The third is persuasive rhetoric, to the point of evangelical fervor. Many of us in civil society have become complicit by believing in the Bank's stated objectives and even legitimizing the use of their doublespeak.

The fourth stage is a doubling down of the pathological behavior - a turning of the screws, if you will. New rankings, new conditionalities, new mandates, more pro-corporate growth. All the while the other states of denial, sincerity and rhetoric reach a fever pitch. There are no contradictions in this behavior; rather they are symptoms of the same psychosis."
capitalism  worldbank  neoliberalism  2015  alnoorladha  banking  iequality  poverty  ideology  corporatism  thomaspiketty  evil  technocracy  hannaharendt  judithbutler  banalityofevil  exploitation  wealth  power  globalization 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Art World’s Patron Satan - NYTimes.com
"More than supportive, Simchowitz had stepped out of a fairy tale — a godfather whose emissary swooped down from the heavens to rescue Ulman from catastrophe. Ulman had not yet heard all the stories about Simchowitz’s generosity and its fatal attraction for young, penniless artists whom he lured into Faustian bargains. He would provide them with “all those adult things” they needed and so often lacked: room, board, materials. In exchange for extraordinary support, Simchowitz asked not for his artists’ souls but for their art, a deal that many of his protégés lived to regret. In any event, lying alone in a hospital bed, broken and delirious, Ulman did not have the luxury of worrying about a far-off day of reckoning.

Ulman met Simchowitz earlier that year after an email introduction from the editor of Sex Magazine, an online arts publication, and was unaware of his reputation for aggressive accumulation. She agreed to sell him two giant paintings covered in blue eyes, but she was surprised by his brutal plans for them. Like a land developer subdividing a great estate, Simchowitz planned to chop up Ulman’s paintings into roughly a dozen smaller units. “He wanted me to cut the eyes into pieces so he could sell more paintings!” she said. Ulman, who put herself through art school by working as a librarian, was taken aback by the proposed dismemberment, but she wasn’t in a strong position to negotiate. “I was very desperate,” she said. “I didn’t have anything to eat.” She ended up selling Simchowitz the smaller units for less than $150 apiece, adding that he could “wipe his ass with them” if he really wanted to.

“He paid me nothing, basically, but at the moment it seemed like a lot,” she said. “And it was great. It allowed me to go to Berlin. I think I lived three months out of that.”

Since 2007, Simchowitz has sponsored and promoted roughly two dozen young artists. In addition to arranging sales for their work, Simchowitz often provides them with a studio, purchases their materials, covers their rent and subsidizes their living expenses. Perhaps most consequentially, he also posts photos of them and their work on his influential Instagram account, thereby creating what he calls “heat” and “velocity” for the artists he supports, who have included market darlings like the Colombian Oscar Murillo, the Japanese-American Parker Ito and the Brazilian Christian Rosa, all under the age of 35. But Simchowitz’s methods call down the opprobrium of art-world stalwarts, who are contemptuous of his taste, suspicious of his motives and fearful of his network’s potential to subvert the intricate hierarchies that have regulated art for centuries.

Reputations in the art world are forged over many years across countless fairs, openings, reviews and dinners. Although laypeople may look at a $30 million Richter and compare it to splatters from a second grader, Richter’s prices are determined not by chance but by the elaborate academic, journalistic and institutional infrastructure the art world has built to mete out prizes and anoint the next generation of cultural torchbearers. The collector class has traditionally come from the very top of the wealth spectrum and has included people looking to trade money for social prestige by participating in the art world’s stately rituals. Over the last few years, though, a new class of speculators has emerged with crasser objectives: They are less interested in flying to Basel to attend a dinner than in riding the economic wave that has caused the market for emerging contemporary art to surge in the past decade.

Critics charge that Simchowitz often preys on vulnerable young artists without gallery representation — some say without talent — and buys up huge quantities of their work, then flips the pieces back and forth at escalating prices among a cultivated group of buyers: a network of movie stars, professional poker players, orthodontists, nightclub promoters, financiers, football players and corned-beef magnates, many of whom hold Simchowitz in such high esteem that they’re willing to purchase the pieces he acquires for them sight unseen, artist unnamed. In March, in an online screed for New York magazine, the art critic Jerry Saltz tore into Simchowitz with unusual ferocity, dubbing him a “Sith Lord” and the Pied Piper of the “New Cynicism.” Simchowitz’s artists may enjoy a temporary surge in prices, his critics argue, but they typically see little of the upside; in any case, or so the story goes, once their bubbles pop, they’re left for dead.

Many important galleries have blacklisted Simchowitz as a buyer, forcing him to take extreme measures to secure desired work, including using consultants as undercover mules. Simchowitz told me about a recent scheme in which he had a consultant buy three pieces from Essex Street, a Lower East Side gallery. The purchase was nominally on behalf of another client, but the ultimate recipient was Simchowitz; by the time the gallery suspected the ruse, money had already changed hands, but the pieces had not been delivered. The gallery requested that Simchowitz not only cancel the purchase but also return another piece by the same artist that was already in his possession, which he did. Moreover, the gallerist, furious over what happened, called the other client to inform him that he was colluding in fraud, an accusation that heartily amused Simchowitz. (Asked for comment, the gallery responded, “Essex Street has never done business with Stefan Simchowitz.”)

To his detractors, Simchowitz is the Michael Milken of the art world — someone who has created, through his extensive network and force of personality, a market for high-risk, high-yield investments that have little to do with the fundamentals of talent and critical acclaim. By contrast, Simchowitz sees himself as something akin to the art world’s Mark Zuckerberg, a 21st-century player using technology to disrupt the institutional establishment. Despite his reputation for transaction-driven opportunism, Simchowitz insists he is playing the long game. “I’m looking for the big fish,” he told me, predicting that in 30 years his investments in the next generation of art stars could yield him a fortune worth a hundred million dollars. “The downside is that it’s worth only $50 million,” he allowed. “But I want the big kahuna.”"
art  artworld  capitalism  2014  christopherglazek  stefansimchowitz  money  power  exploitation  business  investment  finance  via:caseygollan 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Breakthrough Institute - Love Your Monsters
"Dr. Frankenstein's crime was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself. When Dr. Frankenstein meets his creation on a glacier in the Alps, the monster claims that it was not born a monster, but that it became a criminal only after being left alone by his horrified creator, who fled the laboratory once the horrible thing twitched to life. "Remember, I am thy creature," the monster protests, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed... I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."


Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.4

Let Dr. Frankenstein's sin serve as a parable for political ecology. At a time when science, technology, and demography make clear that we can never separate ourselves from the nonhuman world -- that we, our technologies, and nature can no more be disentangled than we can remember the distinction between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster -- this is the moment chosen by millions of well-meaning souls to flagellate themselves for their earlier aspiration to dominion, to repent for their past hubris, to look for ways of diminishing the numbers of their fellow humans, and to swear to make their footprints invisible?"



"4.
The link between technology and theology hinges on the notion of mastery. Descartes exclaimed that we should be "maîtres et possesseurs de la nature."10 

But what does it mean to be a master? In the modernist narrative, mastery was supposed to require such total dominance by the master that he was emancipated entirely from any care and worry. This is the myth about mastery that was used to describe the technical, scientific, and economic dominion of Man over Nature.

But if you think about it according to the compositionist narrative, this myth is quite odd: where have we ever seen a master freed from any dependence on his dependents? The Christian God, at least, is not a master who is freed from dependents, but who, on the contrary, gets folded into, involved with, implicated with, and incarnated into His Creation. God is so attached and dependent upon His Creation that he is continually forced (convinced? willing?) to save it. Once again, the sin is not to wish to have dominion over Nature, but to believe that this dominion means emancipation and not attachment.

If God has not abandoned His Creation and has sent His Son to redeem it, why do you, a human, a creature, believe that you can invent, innovate, and proliferate -- and then flee away in horror from what you have committed? Oh, you the hypocrite who confesses of one sin to hide a much graver, mortal one! Has God fled in horror after what humans made of His Creation? Then have at least the same forbearance that He has.

The dream of emancipation has not turned into a nightmare. It was simply too limited: it excluded nonhumans. It did not care about unexpected consequences; it was unable to follow through with its responsibilities; it entertained a wholly unrealistic notion of what science and technology had to offer; it relied on a rather impious definition of God, and a totally absurd notion of what creation, innovation, and mastery could provide.

Which God and which Creation should we be for, knowing that, contrary to Dr. Frankenstein, we cannot suddenly stop being involved and "go home?" Incarnated we are, incarnated we will be. In spite of a centuries-old misdirected metaphor, we should, without any blasphemy, reverse the Scripture and exclaim: "What good is it for a man to gain his soul yet forfeit the whole world?""

"via this string of tweets from @infrathin:

2 months later, still processing this B. Latour essay http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737470605451265

"LT how to be responsible in the way we conceive of what our responsibility is +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737846280863745

"Like responsibility, love is an allegiance to follow through with the monstrous dilemmas created by it. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544738933566083072

"Love and responsibility both require setting aside what we want them to look like. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544739636665651200

"LT so difficult that i don't know how to do it and have never been able to--except briefly in song. How can i expect "us" to do it?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740052379901952

"so.... um, love you monsters y'all http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740320005853186 ]

[Related: Audrey Watters’s “Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC ” https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:42f77ca711c1 ]
brunlatour  anthropocene  responsibility  love  technology  2012  frankenstein  science  descartes  nature  environment  sustainability  care  nonhumans  emancipation  exploitation  environmentalism  climatechange  modernism  postenvironmentalism  morality  ethics  legal  law  epistemology  reason  decisionmaking  politics  policy  caregiving  intervention  stewardship  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - HAPPIDROME - Part One
"In the battle for Kobane on the Syrian border everyone talks about the enemy - IS - and the frightening ideas that drive them. No-one talks about the Kurdish defenders and what inspires them.

But the moment you look into what the Kurds are fighting for - what you discover is absolutely fascinating. They have a vision of creating a completely new kind of society that is based on the ideas of a forgotten American revolutionary thinker.

He wanted to create a future world in which there would be no hierarchies, no systems that exercise power and control individuals. And the Kurds in Kobane are trying to build a model of that world.

It means that the battle we are watching night after night is not just between good and evil. It is also a struggle of an optimistic vision of the future against a dark conservative idea drawn from the past.

It is a struggle that may also have great relevance to us in the west. Because the revolutionary ideas that have inspired the Kurds also shine a powerful light on the system of power in Britain today. They argue that we in the west are controlled by a new kind of hierarchical power that we don’t fully see or understand.

There are two men at the heart of this story.

One is the American revolutionary thinker. He is called Murray Bookchin. Here is a picture of Bookchin looking revolutionary.

The other man is called Abdullah Ocalan. He is the leader of the Kurdish revolutionary group in Turkey - the PKK

Here he is in 1999 after he had been captured by Turkish security forces and was on his way to a jail on a tiny island in the Sea of Marmara where he would be the only prisoner.

In his solitude he would start to read the theories of Murray Bookchin and decide they were the template for a future world.

Both men began as hardline marxists.

Murray Bookchin was born in New York in 1921. In the 1930s he joined the American Communist Party. But after the second world war he began to question the whole theory that underpinned revolutionary marxism.

What changed everything for him was the experience of working in a factory. Bookchin had gone to work for General Motors - and he realized as he watched his fellow workers that Marx, Lenin and all the other theorists were wrong about the working class.

The Marxist theory said that once working men and women came together in factories the scales would fall from their eyes - and they would see clearly how they were being oppressed. They would also see how they could bond together to become a powerful force that would overthrow the capitalists.

Bookchin saw that the very opposite was happening. This was because the factory was organised as a hierarchy - a system of organisation and control that the workers lived with and experienced every second of the day. As they did so, that hierarchical system became firmly embedded in their minds - and made them more passive and more accepting of their oppression.

But Bookchin didn’t do what most disillusioned American Marxists in the 1950s did - either run away to academia, or become a cynical neo-conservative. Instead he remained an optimist and decided to completely rework revolutionary theory.

Here is Bookchin in 1983 talking about how his thinking became transformed - and how his factory experiences led him towards anarchism. It’s part of a fantastic film called Anarchism in America - as well as Bookchin it’s got a great bit with Jello Biafra, and it’s really worth watching if you can get hold of it.

[video]



Watching these sections of the film does make you think that what is being described is spookily close to the system we live in today. And that maybe we have misunderstood what really has emerged to run society since the 1980s.

The accepted version is that the neo-liberal right and the free market triumphed. But maybe the truth is that what we have today is far closer to a system managed by a technocratic elite who have no real interest in politics - but rather in creating a system of rewards that both keeps us passive and happy - and also makes that elite a lot of money.

That in the mid 1980s the new networks of computers which allowed everyone to borrow money came together with lifestyle consumerism to create a system of social management very close to Skinner’s vision.

Just like in the mental hospital we are all given fake money in the form of credit - that we can then use to get rewards, which keep us happy and passive. Those same technologies that feed us the fake money can also be used to monitor us in extraordinary detail. And that information is then used used to nudge us gently towards the right rewards and the right behaviours - and in extremis we can be cut off from the rewards.

The only problem with that system is that the pigeons may be getting restless. That not only has the system not worked properly since the financial crash of 2008, but that the growing inequalities it creates are also becoming a bit too obvious. The elite is overdoing it and - passive or not - the masses are starting to notice.

Which makes the alternative - the vision put forward by Lewis Mumford in the film, and which inspired Murray Bookchin - and the Kurds, seem more interesting as an alternative.

Here is Mumford from the film. He starts by criticising the managed utopia - how it turns people into sleepwalkers. He has a great quote:

“You reward them. You make people do exactly what you want with some form of sugar-coated drug or candy which will make them think they are actually enjoying every moment of it.

This is the most dangerous of all systems of compulsion. That’s why I regard Skinner’s utopia as another name for Hell. And it would be a worse hell because we wouldn’t realise we were there.

We would imagine we were still in Heaven.”

Mumford then goes on to describe eloquently the alternative, a system of direct democracy where we would all awake and become genuinely empowered - able to take part properly in deciding our destiny.

It is a powerful and optimistic vision of a new kind of progressive politics. But it has one very serious problem.

It means we would have to spend a lot of time going to meetings."
anarchism  2014  kurds  iraq  kobane  isis  murraybookchin  abdullahocalan  labor  marxism  hierarchy  hierarchies  horizontality  anarchy  oppression  revolution  optimism  jellobiafra  capital  capitalism  wagelabor  work  power  control  bfskinner  economics  domination  exploitation  gender  socialism  liberation  lewismumford  utopia  politics  oligarchy  neoliberalism  elitism  conditioning  compulsion  autonomy  behaviorism  hermankahn  hudsoninstitute  technocrats  1983  technocracy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Video: Generation Like | Watch FRONTLINE Online | PBS Video
[Somehow forgot to bookmark this back in February.]

"Thanks to social media, teens are able to directly interact with their culture -- celebrities, movies, brands -- in ways never before possible. But is that real empowerment? Or do marketers hold the upper hand? In "Generation Like," Douglas Rushkoff explores how the teen quest for identity has migrated to the web -- and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with them."

[See also:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/media/generation-like/transcript-57/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gmgXxB9QiA
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/
http://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/generation-like-the-kids-sell-out-but-dont-know-what-1524517417 ]
generationlike  2014  media  online  web  youth  teens  likes  liking  labor  advertising  facebook  douglasrushkoff  tyleroakley  alissaquart  oliverluckett  kurtwagner  markandrejevic  allisonarling-giorgi  danahboyd  popculutre  society  consumerism  work  celebrity  microcelebrities  youtube  marketing  identity  sellingout  merchantsofcool  presentationofself  exploitation  digital  onlinemedia  socialmedia  socialnetworking  profiles  socialnetworks  tumblr  twitter  hungergames  empowerment  fandom 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Understanding Fair Labor Practices in a Networked Age - FairLabor [.pdf]
"Data & Society Research Institute
datasociety.net

Understanding Fair Labor Practices in a Networked Age
by Tamara Kneese, Alex Rosenblat, and danah boyd

Data & Society Working Paper, October 8, 2014
Prepared for: Future of Work
Project supported by Open Society Foundations

Brief Description

"Internet-enabled technologies allow people to connect in unprecedented ways. Although everyday social practices are widespread and well known, these same tools are reconfiguring key aspects of work. Crowdsourcing and distributed labor technologies increasingly allow companies to outsource everything from mundane tasks(e.g., Amazon Mechanical Turk) to professional services (e.g., oDesk). Sharing economy – or peer economy – tools (e.g., Airbnb) allow people to barter goods or services or get paid for these exchanges outside of the dominant business framework. These services have enabled new forms of contract or freelance labor and reduced risk for companies; however, there is often an increase in risk for the associated laborers. At the same time, divisions between what constitutes work, hobby, and volunteerism get blurred,especially as many organizations rely on volunteer labor under the assumption that it’s mutually beneficial (e.g., blogs and journalistic enterprises that republish work or see the offer of a platform as valuable in and of itself). While all of these labor issues have unmediated precedents (e.g., free internships), technology magnifies the scale of these practices, minimizes the transactional friction, and increases the visibility of unpaid and freelance work. Collectively, this raises critical questions about what fair labor looks like in a networked world, where boundaries dissolve and existing mechanisms of labor protection do not address the varied work scenarios now available."

[via tweets by @ashedryden via @aredridel:
https://twitter.com/ashedryden/status/520645315255214080

What does fair labor look like in world where existing mechanisms of labor protection aren’t enough? http://bit.ly/1oYmZpz (v @brainwane)

“Union models don’t apply to many industries; worker protections have disappeared in sectors while protections haven’t emerged in others.”

Deleuze links the emergence of tech to controls that are less defined by structure, but as insidious as strict hierarchies in industrial era

This paper does a good job of drawing the line from hobby to unpaid labor for corporations; “feel good” peer economies, etc

“[the internet is] a feature of the cultural economy, an important unacknowledged source of value in advanced capitalist societies”

“As labor and production become increasingly immaterial, free labor becomes a central part of the digital economy.”

See: hungry advertising marketplaces masquerading as social networks, open source, etc

This free, unpaid labor sneaks in because we feel compensated for how it makes us *feel*, meanwhile others financially profit of our labor.

“At the heart of the technology industry, the incentive to work 80 hours a week is heightened by a sense of pleasure in work.”

“Work will no longer be a place, and home no longer an escape.” Sound familiar?

On Uber, TaskRabbit, etc: (paraphrased) “Employees make good money, receive full benefits. Micro-taskers the employees profit from don’t.”

As technologists who create, profit from, & make use of these new models of labor, we’re ethically obligated to understand its impact.

We’ve created an increasingly high population of underpaid, un- and underinsured, workers, expecting “happiness” to compensate them.

The dreams of technology-aided labor providing for a healthy society that can work less, is compensated fairly & equally are lost on us.

“Uber drivers in LA tell passengers that they enjoy the job in order to protect from receiving a low rating.” That’s coerced “happiness”.

When we’re looking at who is taking these “micro-tasking” jobs, they’re largely those that are un- or underemployed; high numbers of PoC

Not only are PoC facing discrimination in pay from the traditional labor market they’re being underpaid for piecemeal work to make ends meet ]
danahboyd  alexrosenblat  tamarakneese  2014  labor  work  uber  economics  crowdsourcing  airbnb  amazonmechanicalturk  taskrabbit  odesk  unions  rights  fordism  sharingeconomy  via:ariastewart  markets  compensation  internet  web  online  technology  happiness  coercion  exploitation  inequality 
october 2014 by robertogreco
List of ethical concerns in video games (partial) | Leigh Alexander
"A list of real ethical concerns in video games:

Video games are used to covertly advance the political agendas of arms manufacturers.

The aggressive marketing of capitalist war games is an inspiration to the U.S. military, which could take a page out of games marketing’s book in order to push unpopular ideas on the public.

Games like Littleloud’s Sweatshop or Molleindustria’s Phone Story are forbidden from Apple’s mobile storefronts, because they question (arguably deservedly) the ethics of manufacturing operations in impoverished areas.

This site and this one are just a couple of the sites game developers can pay for reviews that make unproven promises to improve games’ positioning on mobile storefronts.

Developers who invest in design and publishing on mobile storefronts can expect to have free, unsanctioned clones of their games steal their revenue and come ahead of the original on charts with no action taken from the companies that own those storefronts.

YouTubers have and continue to accept money to put games before their fervent consumer audiences and are not meaningfully obligated to disclose those relationships. They can then occupy leading curation spaces on a major storefront like Steam, Currently Steam curation’s discoverability algorithms mean the most powerful forces — many of whom, again, earn money from some game developers and not from others — only become more powerful.

The labor practices of the traditional game industry are exploitive and abhorrent. The industry’s historical production model involves staffing up, demanding extreme work weeks, and then letting go of the ‘excess’ talent after a product ships. Speaking out against these conditions is socially sanctioned, and developers who speak to the press at any time other than when marketing wants them to risk being fired.

An entire product and studio network — and by extension, a regional economy around games — can tank because of political posturing, and there is no accountability nor information provided to ameliorate the human collateral damage.

One of the U.S.’ most long-running and successful print game publications is owned by one of the world’s best-known game retailers, and few of the magazine’s consumers seem aware of what, if any impact that relationship might have.

In the name of objectivity, the consumer-facing games press largely releases material on a mutually-agreed upon set of terms and schedules dictated by game companies. It routinely accepts travel arrangements to tour studios and look at in-development games on financial obligation to those game companies and on those companies’ terms. Attempting to subvert this process by inserting personal opinion is viewed as ‘bias’.

In many of the above cases even when disclosure is obligated and made, disclosure does little to purify the overall effect on the climate and its perspectives.

Despite this, only the games press exists to question these ethical problems and attempt to inform the consumer. No one would care otherwise.

Women in games are routinely abused, bullied and harassed while their professional community, and the industry’s largest companies, tend to remain silent. Interrogating this culture or attempting to advance this conversation can result in censure or punishment.

Not currently ethical concerns: Women’s sex lives, independent game developers’ Patreons, the personal perspectives of game critics, people having contentious or controversial opinions, who knows who in a close-knit industry (as if one could name an industry where people don’t know each other or work together)."
games  gaming  videogames  ethics  culture  2014  leighalexander  military  militaryindustrialcomplex  weapons  violence  posturing  politics  exploitation  abuse  bullying  harassment  gender 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Ello | quinn - Ethics of borders
"The tension is around the perceived problems of providing services to people, but the answer there is simple: don't provide services to non-citizens, easily enough done. You already must show ID id obtain services, which is authorized and issued by the state. The state is particularly keen on providing services to as few people as possible. so why not open borders but deny services to non-citizens? It's easy enough to turn away people at hospitals and children from schools, and even sweep up the bodies of the homeless dead, all of whom are likely to even spend what little the have on local products and business before they die or flee. All of these things are in fact done routinely all over the world. The problem is they are also detested as deranged and inhuman by the citizenry of many nations, who would like to take care of children, the sick, and the elderly. So, in order that a government doesn't face the will of its people, those who may need help must be stopped at the border. The question for a nation is simple: if humans are seeking services, is it moral to deny them? The borders make no moral difference to this question. anymore than shutting a door on a request makes the request go away. To only give services to those who then sneak in the window, and call was yourself moral for it, seems insane. If we only want to give service to "our own" we might as well face the dying and pain-ridden hoenstly.

Then there's the foundations of these services and systems of wealth. I'm typing this on an electronic device I took out of a sleeve while wearing clothes all made by people not subject to the services my nation provides, but all this labor is to my and its benefit. I mostly write words, often to criticize my nation -- why on earth am I more eligible for services than the people who make the clothes, electronics, and pick the food that benefits western nations? An accident of birth at best.

(None of this of course applies to migrant labor forces, who both must be imported but given no rights. Hence the industry of illegal immigration, which creates the fully exploitable portion of the labor force every western nation craves.)

When we think about how to better the situations of people from poor nations, we rarely suggest not exploiting them and when we talk about providing services to the poor we never talk of just providing them, where the poor are. In all cases, the governments between people won't let them, as ever, for governments' favorite excuse: their own good.

The obvious problem is that rich states can't provide services to all who need them. This may be the case, which is arguable, but not the subject of this piece. For the sake of argument, let us assume it is. So, how does one choose who to give services to? The accident of location of birth seems an odd criteria, and it is. The real criteria this describes is similarity or genetic relationship to the ruling class, for which location is a reasonably proxy. It's also an obviously amoral criteria: be related to strongmen or apetheir culture, and you may eat and learn and live. Another calculus, a growing one, is extractative: award services to those most likely to generate tax and draftees. But in this phase of history governments are more interest in tax than draftees, and that changes the extractive "in-group" -- fewer soldiers, more elites. Tax is not labor, tax is most likely to come from people who are, on purpose or by accident, the beneficiaries of global slave labor. These are the people governments want in their borders.

Is any of this good? I'd argue no -- it puts extractive lives, be they exploiting labor or destroying the environment -- above all other lives. The extractive class is often just as trapped as everyone else in the situation, in that the majority of them aren't amoral nihilists, only interested in cheap labor and using up the planet as fast as they can, but lack access to political change or even political education."
borders  ethics  geopolitics  2014  quinnnorton  location  genetics  services  labor  exploitation  extraction  extractiveclass  class  society  migration  immigration  rights  illegalimmigration  poverty  wealth  coincidence 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kiotl4G6fMw ]

"No doubt, we have witnessed in the last few years an explosion in the ed-tech industry and a growing, a renewed interest in ed-tech. Those here at ALT-C know that ed-tech is not new by any means; but there is this sense from many of its newest proponents (particularly in the States) that ed-tech has no history; there is only now and the future.

Ed-tech now, particularly that which is intertwined with venture capital, is boosted by a powerful forms of storytelling: a disruptive innovation mythology, entrepreneurs' hagiography, design fiction, fantasy.

A fantasy that wants to extend its reach into the material world.

Society has been handed a map, if you will, by the technology industry in which we are shown how these brave ed-tech explorers have and will conquer and carve up virtual and physical space.

Fantasy.

We are warned of the dragons in dangerous places, the unexplored places, the over explored places, the stagnant, the lands of outmoded ideas — all the places where we should no longer venture. 

Hic Sunt Dracones. There be dragons.

Instead, I’d argue, we need to face our dragons. We need to face our monsters. We need to face the giants. They aren’t simply on the margins; they are, in many ways, central to the narrative."



"I’m in the middle of writing a book called Teaching Machines, a cultural history of the science and politics of ed-tech. An anthropology of ed-tech even, a book that looks at knowledge and power and practices, learning and politics and pedagogy. My book explores the push for efficiency and automation in education: “intelligent tutoring systems,” “artificially intelligent textbooks,” “robo-graders,” and “robo-readers.”

This involves, of course, a nod to “the father of computer science” Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park of course, and his profoundly significant question “Can a machine think?”

I want to ask in turn, “Can a machine teach?”

Then too: What will happen to humans when (if) machines do “think"? What will happen to humans when (if) machines “teach”? What will happen to labor and what happens to learning?

And, what exactly do we mean by those verbs, “think” and “teach”? When we see signs of thinking or teaching in machines, what does that really signal? Is it that our machines are becoming more “intelligent,” more human? Or is it that humans are becoming more mechanical?

Rather than speculate about the future, I want to talk a bit about the past."



"To oppose technology or to fear automation, some like The Economist or venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argue, is to misunderstand how the economy works. (I’d suggest perhaps Luddites understand how the economy works quite well, thank you very much, particularly when it comes to questions of “who owns the machinery” we now must work on. And yes, the economy works well for Marc Andreessen, that’s for sure.)"



"But even without machines, Frankenstein is still read as a cautionary tale about science and about technology; and Shelley’s story has left an indelible impression on us. Its references are scattered throughout popular culture and popular discourse. We frequently use part of the title — “Franken” — to invoke a frightening image of scientific experimentation gone wrong. Frankenfood. Frankenfish. The monster, a monstrosity — a technological crime against nature.

It is telling, very telling, that we often confuse the scientist, Victor Frankenstein, with his creation. We often call the monster Frankenstein.

As the sociologist Bruno Latour has argued, we don’t merely mistake the identity of Frankenstein; we also mistake his crime. It "was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology,” writes Latour, "but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”

The creature — again, a giant — insists in the novel that he was not born a monster, but he became monstrous after Frankenstein fled the laboratory in horror when the creature opened his “dull yellow eye,” breathed hard, and convulsed to life.

"Remember that I am thy creature,” he says when he confronts Frankenstein, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good— misery made me a fiend.”

As Latour observes, "Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.”

Our “gigantic sin”: we failed to love and care for our technological creations. We must love and educate our children. We must love and care for our machines, lest they become monsters.

Indeed, Frankenstein is also a novel about education. The novel is structured as a series of narratives — Captain Watson’s story — a letter he sends to his sister as he explores the Arctic— which then tells Victor Frankenstein’s story through which we hear the creature tell his own story, along with that of the De Lacey family and the arrival of Safie, “the lovely Arabian." All of these are stories about education: some self-directed learning, some through formal schooling.

While typically Frankenstein is interpreted as a condemnation of science gone awry, the novel can also be read as a condemnation of education gone awry. The novel highlights the dangerous consequences of scientific knowledge, sure, but it also explores how knowledge — gained inadvertently, perhaps, gained surreptitiously, gained without guidance — might be disastrous. Victor Frankenstein, stumbling across the alchemists and then having their work dismissed outright by his father, stoking his curiosity. The creature, learning to speak by watching the De Lacey family, learning to read by watching Safie do the same, his finding and reading Volney's Ruins of Empires and Milton’s Paradise Lost."



"To be clear, my nod to the Luddites or to Frankenstein isn’t about rejecting technology; but it is about rejecting exploitation. It is about rejecting an uncritical and unexamined belief in progress. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it's that we have pretended like it is truth and divorced from responsibility, from love, from politics, from care. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that it does not, despite its insistence, give us “the answer."

And that is problem with ed-tech’s monsters. That is the problem with teaching machines.

In order to automate education, must we see knowledge in a certain way, as certain: atomistic, programmable, deliverable, hierarchical, fixed, measurable, non-negotiable? In order to automate that knowledge, what happens to care?"



"I’ll leave you with one final quotation, from Hannah Arendt who wrote,
"Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

Our task, I believe, is to tell the stories and build the society that would place education technology in that same light: “renewing a common world.”

We in ed-tech must face the monsters we have created, I think. These are the monsters in the technologies of war and surveillance a la Bletchley Park. These are the monsters in the technologies of mass production and standardization. These are the monsters in the technologies of behavior modification a la BF Skinner.

These are the monsters ed-tech must face. And we must all consider what we need to do so that we do not create more of them."
audreywatters  edtech  technology  education  schools  data  monsters  dragons  frankenstein  luddites  luddism  neoluddism  alanturing  thomaspynchon  society  bfskinner  standardization  surveillance  massproduction  labor  hannaharendt  brunolatour  work  kevinkelly  technosolutionism  erikbrynjolfsson  lordbyron  maryshelley  ethics  hierarchy  children  responsibility  love  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  learning  politics  policy  democracy  exploitation  hierarchies  progress  science  scientism  markets  aynrand  liberarianism  projectpigeon  teachingmachines  personalization  individualization  behavior  behaviorism  economics  capitalism  siliconvalley 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Money in the Bank | Jacobin
"The cultural consensus which continues to dominate this nation is that greed only exists for Cadillac-driving welfare queens and fatcat union bosses. It is never accounted as greedy, for instance, that the entire aim of three decades of dislocating economic policies has been to squeeze blood from a stone, depriving laborers of basic securities so as to legalize labor exploitation. So it is that wrestlers are never “employees” — but rather, independent contractors, who, like the wandering samurai of feudal Japan, or the noble free lances of 12th century England, face the strong likelihood of penury, injury, and an early death. As independent contractors, wrestlers must file state income tax returns in each state that they wrestle — an onerous task — as well as pay a punishing self-employment tax.

As attorney and academic Oliver Bateman writes, “most low-level performers and members of the female Diva division operate on short-term guaranteed contracts in the mid–five figures, out of which they must pay for their travel, food and lodging.”

Despite their putative “contracts,” the wrestlers can often be fired by the promotion at any time. The WWE does not pay into Social Security or unemployment insurance for the wrestlers and, in an industry in which late-life financial jeopardy is all too common, provides no pensions.

But the most immediately punishing consequence of this employment status is the lack of any form of company-paid health insurance. McMahon scoffs at this criticism, claiming “anyone who makes the kind of money that they make can easily afford their own healthcare,” and that “most independent contractors have their own healthcare.”"
wrestling  capitalism  history  2014  labor  exploitation  economics  policy  greed  inequality  wwf  vincemcmahon  monopolies 
august 2014 by robertogreco
“No Excuses” in New Orleans | Jacobin
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70]

[part 2 here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/the-charter-school-profiteers/ ]

"Extensive observational research one of us conducted (Sondel) in two of these “No Excuses” schools (an elementary KIPP school and a locally based middle school modeled after KIPP) provides evidence that assessment data is no longer the proxy for educational quality but has in fact become the purpose of schooling itself.

At both schools, as is the case in many “No Excuses” charters in New Orleans, the principals were white males, under the age of thirty, and TFA alumni. TFA corps members and alumni also constituted five of the six collective administrators and over 60 percent of the instructional staff.

With few exceptions, the curriculum was characterized by a narrow interpretation of state standards at the expense of all other material. Students rarely learned local history or current events. Instead, science and social studies were relegated to ancillary classes in the elementary school and reduced to the accumulation of vocabulary and lists of facts at the middle school. Teachers stopped introducing new material a month prior to state assessments in order to begin review.

This curriculum was delivered almost exclusively through direct instruction — what TFA corps members refer to as the “five step lesson plan,” and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire calls “banking education,” wherein students are treated as passive and empty receptacles into which information can be deposited. In nearly every lesson Sondel observed, teachers stood in front of students to introduce new content or an isolated skill, after which students were asked to parrot, practice, and then perform their newly acquired knowledge on worksheets and multiple-choice assessments. There were no student debates, projects, or science experiments.

In a literacy lesson, for example, a teacher started by reviewing the definitions of figurative language. The teacher then projected on the Smartboard sentence after sentence, poem after poem, and, finally, a short story while students raised their hands and waited to be called on to identify idioms, similes, and personification.

After this series of questions and answers, the students sat silently at their desks, read four short passages, and identified figurative language on multiple-choice questions. The students were not asked to read the poem, analyze the story, or discuss the purpose of metaphors. After the lesson, upon being asked if students practice this skill in their independent reading or writing activities, the teacher responded, “You know the problem with that is then they have a difficult time identifying metaphors on the test.”

Perhaps because there was little inherently interesting or relevant to students about the curriculum or the classroom activities, teachers often attempted to control rather than engage students in lessons.

There were, for example, specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit — practices referred to at one school as SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and Answer Questions, Nod, and Track the Speaker) and at the other as SPARK (Sit up straight, Pay attention, Ask and answer questions, React to show I’m following along, Keep tracking the speaker). Students were kept silent, or what teachers called “level zero,” through most of the day.

Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways. At the sound of each bell at the middle school, students were expected to line up at “level zero” with their faces forward and hands behind their backs and, when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape. There they waited for the command of an administrator: “Duke, you can move to your next class! Tulane, you can walk when you show me that you are ready!”

Students then marched until they reached the STOP sign on the floor, where their teacher checked them for hallway position before giving them permission to continue around the corner. Throughout this process, students moved counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hallway (even if they were going to a classroom one door to the left).

This system of control was administered through intricate systems of reward and punishment. Elementary students received and lost stars for each “behavioral infraction.” In one classroom, a teacher circulated the room with a timer in her hand while students read silently. Every three minutes, after the buzzer, she put a single goldfish on the desk of each student who had remained silent. In another classroom, a teacher silently glared at a student and then typed into his iPhone, which was connected through Class Dojo — an online behavior management system — to his Smartboard. Numbers would increase and decrease on little avatars representing each student.

At the middle school, stars matured into fake money that students could use to buy access to brass band and spoken word performances. When they were not compliant, or did not have enough money to attend the weekly celebration, they were sent to the “behavior intervention room,” where they were expected to copy a piece of text word for word on lined paper. One particular afternoon, the text in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Despite the reputation that people join TFA to pad their resumes, many get involved in an attempt to contribute to society. Some are even convinced they are a part of the Civil Rights Movement of their generation. Implementing the “No Excuses” approach is equated with social justice, under the assumption that it is the most effective way to improve students’ test scores — which will get them into college and out of poverty. One teacher explains: “Because these days with the economy the way it is, you need a college degree. So this is a movement of social justice and giving everyone that wants an opportunity access to education.”

Teachers unconvinced by this ideology tend to acquiesce to the “No Excuses” approach for fear of losing their jobs or negatively influencing their students’ futures. One social studies teacher who wishes he could develop his students into historically curious, community-oriented citizens told Sondel why he focuses on teaching standards and test prep instead of current events: “I would be afraid of seeing a whole lot of sixth graders end up back in sixth grade and I would, frankly, be equally afraid that I wouldn’t be the one teaching them next year.”

Yet this pedagogy is far from justice-based or reflective of the radical ambitions of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, this type of schooling extinguishes young people’s passion for learning and potentially pushes out those who fail to or are unwilling to comply. At best, the “No Excuses” approach attempts to develop within students the compliant dispositions necessary to accept and work within the status quo."
neworleans  education  kipp  schools  2014  policy  edreform  control  socialjustice  democracy  politics  tfa  civilrights  economics  forprofit  via:audreywatters  commoncore  standards  measurement  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  detroit  publicschool  crisis  exploitation  bethsondel  josephboselovic  teachforamerica  nola  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Twitter / audreywatters: Efficiency is bullshit. ...
[mentioned here: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/488913753564401664 ]

"Every time I think I agree with "learn to code" efforts as part of a new literacy, I see the invocation of "efficiency" and I barf"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488885402875351040

"Efficiency is bullshit. Efficiency is the demand of an industrial system wanting us to bend humanity to the demand of money and machine"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488885730756669441
[the one with the thread]

"Fuck you. I am inefficient. Fuck you. I am human."
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488885931319898113

"I am "inefficient" because I'm a woman. Because I'm a mom. Because I grieve. Because I write poetry, I read novels. Because I'm angry."
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488889793015603200

"I'm inefficient because I recognize that efficiency is sad and empty and bitter and exploitative."
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488890119298899969



"@alexismadrigal yes I wrestle with Illich a lot. Who can dismiss institutions (edu specifically). Who relies on them for justice?"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/488904879432151040
audreywatters  efficiency  edtech  productivity  2014  ivanillich  technology  jaquesellul  labor  education  deschooling  unschooling  socirty  values  inefficiency  exploitation  shrequest1 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Born to Sell: How Indie Games Went Mainstream At E3 - Forbes
"The idea of an “indie” has always been reactionary, an attempt to reverse the momentum of industrialization by stripping creative production to a poetic minimum.. The indie designer has become a romantic fixation for videogame culture in recent years, something that’s given an industry calcifying around expensive sequels a sense of creative momentum and social purpose it wouldn’t otherwise have had. The improbable successes of Minecraft, Braid, Gone Home and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP show that it’s not the commercialization of creative sharing that’s corrupt, but only the industry’s least ethical practitioners, the handful of conglomerates like Ubisoft and EA and Activision.

It’s too easy to see the indie ethic as the antithesis of industrialized creativity, looking past the fact that indie and conglomerate are built on the same intrusive market structure that insists community participation should be bisected by a paywall. As has been the case in every industry of mass produced culture, the “indie” is inevitably just a tributary to a bigger market, less a correction to what is broken than an extension of it, ennobling the entrepreneurial at the most intimate levels."



"These micro-publishers offer a helpful services, but their emergence is a clear indication of how the same economic structures the “indie” appears to renounce end up being replicated on a smaller scale. In every other creative industry, the identity of any given “indie” group is fleeting, with the most successful of them eventually adopting the same capital values as the conglomerates they seem to oppose. After starting out as a small operation bringing European art movies to American theaters in the mid-80s, Miramax found it easy enough to transition into a studio unto itself, churning out bloodless genre movies like She’s All That, Scary Movie, and Cold Mountain. Similarly reviled publisher EA began as a self-funded assembly of programmers guided by a faith that computers could make you cry. 30 years later they’re a $3.8 billion a year company, voted America’s worst in 2013, known for acquiring studios to force them to work on legacy IP and then imposing massive layoffs when those games fail in the market

The infatuation with the “indie” is driven by a consumerist delusion that there’s an ethical and unethical way to shop for culture, it’s not the market structure that violates the basic dignity of human creative work but an aesthetic reading of the symbolic values represented in particular works. In that way, a stubbornly conservative game like Gone Home—making monogamous coupling the central force in human experience, celebrating a melancholy burst of nostalgia from the leftover trinkets of 90s identity politics and consumerism, and reinforcing a fundamental shamefulness about open depictions sex—can be seen as a more ethical than, say, Far Cry 3 or Battlefield 4, patriarchal hymns to white violence and empire that are, nevertheless, produced by the same market-driven labor structures as the indie.

The romantic indie ethos only further impoverishes those who work in it by enshrining the idea that creative work should be done on-spec, with all the financial liability held by the developers, while profits are subdivided by owners of the networks they depend on for distribution. As the pressures on the biggest studios and publishers intensify, demanding bigger and riskier investments to compete for a relatively fixed number of core game consumers, the flourishing of an indie culture ensure there is little incentive for corporations to pursue any strategy other than blockbuster survivalism. There is no need to compete against these upstart auteurs because they can be bought ex post facto. Even if they haven’t signed a contract, the form of their product, the volume of labor required to produce it, guarantees whatever success they have will be owned by the market system, be it Valve, Apple, Microsoft, or Sony."

Even wandering through the IndieCade booth at E3, a wonderfully creative and welcoming space amid a sea of neon repulsion, the sense of independence is almost entirely symbolic. One of my favorite games from E3 was found in the IndieCade space, a rough but beautifully playful game called Long Take designed by Sun Park and his studio Turtle Cream. Originally designed over 50 hours during a game jam event, Long Take has players control not the hero but a camera filming him or her on a 2D plane. Each level begins with a zoomed out shot of the entire space and then slowly closes in on the hero, who the player must track throughout the level. If the hero runs or falls out of frame the player fails. Only things framed by the player’s camera view are allowed to move, meaning the player must avoid revealing enemies or missiles waiting in the wings, which will begin to attack if they’re in-frame.

It’s a fantastically clever variation on one of the most familiar videogame types, enriched with a layer of voyeurism and the stress of not being directly in control while still bearing responsibility for the consequences. After my demo, Park told me while the game is currently free, he’s hard at work on expanding it into a full commercial version that he’ll eventually try and sell over Steam. The need to make money is the blackhole that swallows us at all levels, indie or otherwise.

In the economy of the indie game, one sees the self-defeating effort of our most technologically dependent art form attempting to re-enchant itself through a rite of economic self-abnegation. Paradoxically, the product of this process has most cultural meaning when it results in the greatest amount of market activity, reinforcing the subjective admiration of critics and players with an empirical measure of units sold, revenue earned, and awards won. The fantasy of an “indie” culture of game design is ultimately not about aesthetics or representation but a desire to see the market structure itself proven viable in a time when all indicators point toward its doom. Through the cultural umbrella of “indie” one of our era’s dumbest and and most paralyzing aphorisms—just be yourself—is transformed into an economic mandate, becoming a life preserve for a dying socio-political order in the process.

If videogames have become the predominant art form of the 21st Century, they have done so by amusing a population that has embraced being predominated. This year’s E3 made it possible to see how inextricable systems of economic exploitation are from the videogame, which is itself an engine of structural thievery, a miniaturized mirror that extracts maximum time for minimum return in the same way its financiers extract maximum hours for the lowest possible investment. Absent an ability to reject this structure of exploitation, we find it easier to relabel the exploited, to give them enchanted laurels of cultural significance in acknowledgement that there very likely won’t be any other kind of compensation."
videogames  indiegames  games  gaming  economics  exploitation  2014  michaelthomsen  e3  valve  apple  sony  labor  money  capitalism  markets  steam 
july 2014 by robertogreco
How It Ends: The last gasp of amateurism in an Oakland courthouse
"“When I first started bitching was in 1998,” Sonny said, “when they started showing on classic sports the old movies of the games. Then you had them selling the jerseys, with Chris Webber and those guys at Michigan. EA Sports wasn’t even in my thought process.”

And then, something remarkable happened. Serious people outside of sports began to notice how absurd the whole thing had become. Joe Nocera of the New York Times made a crusade out of it, and Taylor Branch, one of the towering figures among American historians, went after the NCAA like the genuine Jeremiah in the pages of The Atlantic, hanging the label of “cartel” on the organization so firmly that the NCAA lawyers are tearing up the English language trying to keep it out of this trial. All these people came to Sonny Vaccaro, because he had been there all along, whereupon the players themselves became involved."
ncaa  sports  labor  highereducation  highered  capitalism  2014  sonnyvaccaro  exploitation  money  charlespierce 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Good Intentions and Big Ideas: Feel Good Grants That Exploit Artists and Reduce Arts Funding
"Needless to say, all that money and privilege leaves some big and largely unanswered questions around access, inclusion, politics and turning ideas into marketable products that these organizations and companies try to claim ownership over."



"What I want to do here is channel that growing skepticism around the fact that it is often the wealthiest and most powerful people who dictate the terms of the good acts that our society commits and who decide which ideas will underpin them. And it’s absolutely true that sometimes they get it right and great things are accomplished, I’m never going to deny that, but sometimes what I would call boutique charities arise that are often ego-driven and compete with other organizations with less capital or cache which ultimately diminishes resources and ends up with populations in need being very poorly served."



"Of course, it’s true, as Slayton and I concurred, that any time an artist receives funding there are going to be compromises made or limitations placed on the work that the artists create. These fellowships are a small part of a much larger system. And all an artist needs to do to avoid such conflicts is not apply when they see problematic programs. But the thing is, as with many of those organization like TED that I mentioned at the outset, because of the popularity of these brains-in-a-room programs with a lot of people in power right now, there has been a noticeable shift over the past decade or so toward thinking that artists’ new job is to answer society’s most urgent needs in short periods of time for little to no money. Lately this has led to giving people desperate to cut money in their budgets big ideas like “let’s just get rid of our trained aides in the senior programs and offer the space for free to a bunch of artists who will come in and fingerpaint and play music” or “instead of having actual teachers who understand lesson plans and childhood developmental stages, let’s bring in some theater people without education experience to make plays with the kids about the history those teachers would have been teaching.” This is where what seemed like a good intention turns into something deeply problematic when made manifest in the actual, daily lives of the people the programs are intended to help — the artists are exploited, the people with immediate needs are no longer having those needs met by competent and trained workers, and governments hide behind out-of-the-box thinking when laying waste to programs and services."
art  artists  ted  2012  alexisclements  exploitation  power  money  economics  charitableindustrialcomplex  zero1  labor  charities  chrisanderson  bigthink  ideas4all  aspenideasfestival  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charity  capitalism  control 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why Do We Only Care About Programmers?, by Hannah Howard | Model View Culture
"Recent discussions of diversity in technology tend to focus solely on people who code or program for a living. Yet the groups of people whose work is essential to the tech industry is vastly larger. Consider any of the following roles, without which the technology sector could not function:

1. A miner extracting raw materials for electronics
2. A sales associate in a retail store selling cell phones and laptops
3. A security guard watching the parking lot at a Silicon Valley tech company
4. An assembly line worker manufacturing all kinds of electronics in Shenzhen, China

The true potential of technology-related social justice work lies in this vastness of scope. A strong feminist, anti-racist movement for social and economic justice in the tech sector could potentially improve the lives of billions of people. To date though, most activism has focused on a small group of people who are ultimately already near the top.

It’s hard to imagine the American labor movements of the early twentieth century would have carried any power had they focused only on those who engineered cars, without considering the factory workers in Detroit and other cities who made them. Yet, that is what we do when we focus primarily on those that design technology and write software; by largely ignoring those who manufacture technology, sell it, support it and repair it, we diminish the transformative potential of our work."



"When we consider feminist and anti-racist activism in the tech world, we ought to ask ourselves what will make the lives of the most marginalized and underrepresented groups in tech better. While as a woman programmer, the weight of brogrammer sexism feels overwhelming to me, a part of me asks: how many women’s lives will I actually improve if I focus only on fighting brogrammers? What would the women who made my iPhone think if I spent all my time fighting for codes of conduct at conferences I go to, and none fighting for better labor conditions for factory workers?

Moreover, how many people’s lives could we improve if instead of worrying about whether VCs fund enough women, we instead advocated for redistributing their wealth back to the people whose labor they became wealthy on? I realize these kinds of questions are sensitive to bring up, and I don’t want to dismiss the existing work of amazing activists in the tech world. But at some point, if we truly care about ending sexism, racism, and classism in technology, we have to recognize that tech justice goes way beyond the lives of marginalized people in the world of programming."
labor  socialjustice  unions  technology  2014  hannahhoward  innovation  supplytchain  villages  feminism  sexism  racism  exploitation  economics  society  gender 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Giving notice to employability | ephemera
"The neoliberal notion of employability has risen to prominence over the past 20 years, having been positioned as the crux of national, organizational and individual prosperity. To be employable, individuals are increasingly called upon to be self-reliant; aligning themselves to the conditions of an ostensibly fast-moving and precarious global economy. This special issue of ephemera calls attention to the way this current preoccupation with employability tethers questions of equality and human development to the instrumental capitalist obsession with growth and renewal. The 13 contributions to this issue ‘give notice’ to employability as a colonizing attribute of human resourcefulness that promotes marginalization, exploitation and stigmatization. By exploring the type of ‘self’ employability demands, and analysing the consequences of its required engagement, we hope employability will be both noticed and acted upon."

[via http://monoskop.org/log/?p=9749 via Chris Berthelesen]
employability  neoliberalism  2013  labor  work  economics  marginalization  exploitation  stigmatization 
november 2013 by robertogreco
The moral bankruptcy of the internship economy | Sarah Kendzior
"Here is how the internship scam works. It’s not about a “skills” gap. It’s about a morality gap.

1) Make higher education worthless by redefining “skill” as a specific corporate contribution. Tell young people they have no skills.

2) With “skill” irrelevant, require experience. Make internship sole path to experience. Make internships unpaid, locking out all but rich.

3) End on the job training for entry level jobs. Educated told skills are irrelevant. Uneducated told they have no way to obtain skills.

4) As wealthy progress on professional career path, middle and lower class youth take service jobs to pay off massive educational debt.

5) Make these part-time jobs not “count” on resume. Hire on prestige, not skill or education. Punish those who need to work to survive.

6) Punish young people who never found any kind of work the hardest. Make them untouchables — unhireable.

7) Tell wealthy people they are “privileged” to be working 40 hrs/week for free. Don’t tell them what kind of “privileged” it is.

8) Make status quo commentary written by unpaid interns or people hiring unpaid interns. They will tell you it’s your fault.

9) Young people, it is not your fault. Speak out. Fight back. Bankrupt the prestige economy."

[via: http://www.policymic.com/articles/48829/why-you-should-never-have-taken-that-prestigious-internship ]
internships  academia  skills  experience  2013  sarahkendzior  economics  exploitation  wealth  class  privilege  unpaidinterns  business  careers 
june 2013 by robertogreco
The Real Reason I Dropped Out of a PhD Program
"I was disillusioned by the institution of higher education. I still am. But my disillusionment about grad school involves much more than simply the unhappy prospects for the academic job market. I saw the university care more about sports than learning. I saw undergrads care more about getting their diplomas than learning. I’d once believed I wanted to be part of a scholarly community, but “community” was sorely lacking, as was oftentimes the scholarship. And while I wanted to spend my life immersed in learning and teaching and writing, I just couldn’t reconcile “the life of the mind” with the whims of university administrators, state politicians, state budgets. I couldn’t reconcile “the life of the mind” with the demands of the physical world, the demands of the physical body."



"I quit because I’d lost the stomach for being part of the institution of higher education — one that wasn’t sustaining me intellectually, financially or spiritually; one that wanted me to teach classes for very low wages — as a grad student and then likely as an adjunct faculty member. I quit because I was exhausted and couldn’t handle the obstacle course that grad school and the academic job market still required my running through. I quit because I needed to heal from the trauma of watching Anthony die. I quit because far from that so-called Ivory Tower being a place of solace and contemplation, it had become a nightmare of bureaucracy and politics. I quit because I didn’t want to be a cog in that machine. I quit because I felt the system was broken. And at the time, I was broken too."
adjunct  healthinsurance  death  life  2005  2004  2012  education  markets  labor  exploitation  highereducation  highered  audreywatters  academia  gradschool 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The New Sweatshop | Aron Solomon is a Global Brand
"The new sweatshop preys off the young. In places like Buenos Aires and Stockholm, the young work in the new sweatshops because they need money and they have few other options. A few dollars a day for soul-crushing work is the margin of survival. And they usually have espresso machines. And sometimes cake, which is intended to be hipster-ironic (or “ironical,” if you’re a doorknob).

Not to belabor the already belabored point, but you get it, yes?

The game is simple:

1. create a “cool” brand and workspace, ideally with a nightclub feel;

2. dangle the carrot of  “career” advancement;

3. poke with the stick of trying to find a job in a permanently imploded global economy;

4. give people a MacBook to work on;

5. let them dress pretty much how they want (while making fun of “suits”);

6. have the occasional dog saunter through the office.
Add caffeine and, voila, instant new sweatshop."
underclass  youth  generations  generationalstrife  exploitation  economics  sweatshops  2012  aronsolomon 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Bradley Manning, the Person: The Making of the World's Most Notorious Leaker - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic
"Manning finally felt like himself, like he didn't have to hide anything. "i mean, i dont think its normal for people to spend this much time worrying about whether they're behaving masculine enough, whether what they're going to say is going to be perceived as 'gay'... not to mention how i feel about the situation..." he wrote. "for whatever reason, im not comfortable with myself... i mean, i behave and look like a male, but its not 'me'"

It's incredible to think that as Manning was allegedly passing off the biggest data leak in US government history, he was experimenting with a different kind of transparency and public display of previously secret information. He rode the Acela. He went into gas stations to buy cigarettes. He did normal things.

A few months later, after Lamo told military officials he knew about Manning, Manning was arrested and he's been held ever since. He's awaiting a trial to find out if he'll be courtmartialed."
bradleymanning  adrianlamo  wikileaks  2011  identity  alexismadrigal  conscience  society  sexuality  exploitation 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The News of the World closes as media's tectonic plates shift | Will Self | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
"we live in an interregnum between cultural hegemonies, and in such times, as Marx observed of political interregnums, the strangest forms will arise. … We will remain in this interregnum only for as long as media organisations remain unable to make web-based content – whether editorial, entertainment or social media – generate genuinely self-sustaining revenue. When it does begin to do so new hierarchies will be erected very speedily to exploit it, and my suspicion is that these new hierarchies will look very much like the old. … We will remain in this interregnum only for as long as media organisations remain unable to make web-based content – whether editorial, entertainment or social media – generate genuinely self-sustaining revenue. When it does begin to do so new hierarchies will be erected very speedily to exploit it, and my suspicion is that these new hierarchies will look very much like the old."
willself  2011  uk  internet  culture  media  privacy  newsoftheworld  interregnum  karlmarx  politics  power  socialmedia  hierarchy  entertainment  exploitation  content  sustainability  web  online  control  via:preoccupations 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Hidden History Series
"This series explores the history of the United States from a bottom-up approach and discovers the ways disenfranchised groups have strived to create a more just and equitable society. Under each myth of the great heroes of the United States lies a greater story of common people struggling to build a better world. The series also addresses how the concepts of American liberty and freedom have been used to exploit and oppress others."
history  grassroots  bottom-up  activism  equity  society  us  class  exploitation  freedom  equality  struggle  decolonization  liberty 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Internet as Playground and Factory :: Intro
"The revenues of today's social aggregators are promising but their speculative value exceeds billions of dollars. Capital manages to expropriate value from the commons; labor goes beyond the factory, all of society is put to work. Every aspect of life drives the digital economy: sexual desire, boredom, friendship —& all becomes fodder for speculative profit. We are living in a total labor society and the way in which we are commoditized, racialized, & engendered is profoundly and disturbingly normalized. The complex & troubling set of circumstances we now confront includes the collapse of the conventional opposition between waged & unwaged labor, and is characterized by multiple “tradeoffs” & “social costs”—such as government & corporate surveillance. While individual instances are certainly exploitative in the most overt sense, the shift in the overall paradigm moves us beyond the explanatory power of the Marxian interpretation of exploitation (which is of limited use here)."

[videos at: http://vimeo.com/ipf2009 ]
hacktivism  2009  labor  law  digital  digitalmedia  nyc  economics  mediastudies  socialmedia  academia  conferences  culture  media  newmedia  theory  internet  work  art  events  marxism  capitalism  exploitation  money  via:javierarbona  treborscholz 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"most prospective graduate students have given little thought to what will happen to them after they complete their doctorates...assume that everyone finds a decent position somewhere, even if it's "only" at a community college (expressed with a shudder). Besides, the completion of graduate school seems impossibly far away, so their concerns are mostly focused on the present...It's hard to tell young people that universities recognize that their idealism & energy — & lack of information — are an exploitable resource. For universities, the impact of graduate programs on the lives of those students is an acceptable externality, like dumping toxins into a river. If you cannot find a tenure-track position, your university will no longer court you; it will pretend you do not exist and will act as if your unemployability is entirely your fault. It will make you feel ashamed, & you will probably just disappear, convinced it's right rather than that the game was rigged from the beginning."
education  gradschool  humanities  academia  capitalism  advice  tips  phd  teaching  future  academics  jobs  reality  graduateschool  learning  unschooling  deschooling  society  hierarchy  exploitation  universities  colleges  thomasbenton 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Dolores Labs Blog » Not-quite-live-blog: Jonathan Zittrain on “Minds For Sale”
"Zittrain focuses on the potential alienation and opportunities for abuse that can arise with the growth of distributed online production. He also contemplates the thin line that separates exploitation from volunteering in the context of online communities and collaboration."
jonathanzittrain  crowdsourcing  ethics  participatory  participatoryculture  exploitation  online  abuse  via:migurski 
december 2009 by robertogreco
the single wikipedian - a grammar
"“Why do Wikipedians spend countless hours improving the site, often doing mundane, repetitive tasks they would never do for money?”
wikipedia  humor  gender  exploitation 
december 2009 by robertogreco

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