Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Interesting quote on corporations and individuals

I stumbled across the quote below in an interview with Newsnight's industrial correspondent Paul Mason on the Red Pepper website (not one I look at usually to be honest!).

The modern corporation promises us nothing. So we promise nothing back. The fear of ‘joining’ is an aversion to dependence and it’s so widespread among people below the age of 35 that I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to be logical. That is, it is a rational response to circumstances, not some form of immaturity contingent on the defeat of the unions or the dumbingdown of university degrees.

Interesting that he describes individualisation as a "rational" response. In a way I suppose it is, it's almost like game theory. If companies shirk the patenalist approach of the past, it's not illogical for employees to reciprocate.


Charlie Marks said...

Mason is quite the social theorist -- one i'd much rather see being interviewed than doing the interviewing. He says much the same thing in this interview than in others i've heard and read, but still... worth hearing.

So, he points out that trade unions must offer something in the way of community -- not in a paternalist, but rather an egalitarian sense.

I don't think we're about to see a revival of syndicalism any time soon. Nor would I want it to - I don't think a movement without political objectives as well as economic ones can suceed. But what better offer is there than that of being a part of a struggle?

If the game with employers is "benefit by getting as much as you can", then the game with colleagues is the opposite. Given the long working hours we now enjoy (!) and the breakdown of the extended family, perhaps unions can offer a sense of community.

By the way, Tom, I read the blog via a feed and its always worth it. Keep up the good work.

Tom P said...

Thanks for the feedback Charlie - always appreciated!

It strike me that the point he's making is not miles away from some of ideas in the TV series The Trap that was on earlier this year.

What bothers me quite a bit is the possibility that the neo-liberal, and rational economic man, view of how we interact might be starting to actually work in practice. The more we structure relations in society so that our best 'rational' strategy is to fcuk over others the more likely we are to act in that way. Apologies for that depressing thought...

By the way have you read Paul Mason's book? It looks like one I should get around to reading.

Charlie Marks said...

The trap was a good series, if a little dubious in parts. The privatisation of the economy of the former Soviet Union was profiled brilliantly -- although the fire sale of public assets has been a tragedy for millions. The neoliberals did -- are doing -- the same thing in Iraq today, and Curtis made the comparison well, I thought.

I've not got it, but I skimmed through it in a bookstore -- Paul Mason writes that the fact millions of more workers entered a global market economy between 1989-91 was a positive thing -- which has so far put me off buying it. Yes, really - that's what got me. See, I'd've rather Poland democratised politically and economically, rather than have millions of people forced to leave home in search of work, finding exploitation and prejudice in the UK and elsewhere.

I recently got a hold of David Harvey's book on neoliberalism, which I'm sure you'd appreciate, if you ain't read it already.

Tom P said...

Cheers for the tip - I'll have a look