Anachronistic workers

Author: joe

Wednesday, 15 December, 2010 - 22:59

Someone asks, who are the workers? In so asking they suggest my Marxist reference to 'the worker' is anachronistic, or that by workers I must mean the 'chavs', or the immigrants who routinely take up the most menial jobs in society (and therefore could not possibly benefit from a Higher Education system).

Paradoxically, many people rebut polemics against the Coalition government's spending cuts, or criticise 'whinging' protesters, by demanding that they should get a job and stop relying on those who WORK! (The word is usually capitalised, thereby denoting what a RADICAL POLITICAL ACTION going to work really is).

The good honest worker, that mythical hero we all become when we think of how we sacrifice our precious free time to pay our way. All we must do is work, and the world around us magically transforms into a place of merit and recognition, advancement and reward, or a benign adventureland in which the vulnerable can finally sip from the luxurious cup of welfare.

The sign-system mobilised by such appeals to work carry the implication that the harder we work, the more deserving we are, and the better off we will be. He who works longest reaps the most reward. It feels almost insulting to point out the obvious fact - how can it be necessary to point it out!? - that it is generally those who work longest who earn the least, that value is transferred from the worker (whose labour value is diminished) to the commodity (whose fetishisation 'magically' creates value), and that those with the luxury of capital make a profit from those without it? It's Marxism 101, and I'd tire of teaching it if it were not so fucking fundamental to understanding the inequality in society.

Categories: marxism 101, work, labour,
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