Friday, 1 September 2017

Wearing different hats

The excerpt below is from Hegemony and Socialist Strategy and plays into something I think a lot about today. To me it seems obvious that the Left had to shift towards a more expansive view of what people want than just what happens at work. In developed economies we don't have to be as defined by work as our predecessors were. So we are citizens, consumers etc as much as workers and we think of ourselves in that way too.

However, one of the big blunders the Third Way type 'modernisers' (they don't seem modern anymore, do they?) was to assume that because people spent less time thinking about their workplace identity, and more about other aspects, that the workplace didn't matter any more. In addition, it was too uncritical of the idea that we think like consumers about all kinds of things (public services, politics) and that therefore it was smart to relate to the public in a consumer-provider relationship and encourage this more generally.

On a slight different point, in my small corner of the world I've lost track of the amount of times trustees have told me "I take my union hat off when I go into trustee meetings". Whilst I understand the need to act responsibly (though I'd ask where the really bad examples of member trustees doing otherwise are), I do think in practice this has sometimes lead to trustees adopting far too narrow a view. And adopting an 'investor' persona can be in direct conflict with our interests as employees (or citizens or even consumers for that matter). I don't see why we shouldn't seek to develop a "union trustee" hat for our reps to mentally put on.

Anyway, here's  the blurb:
"If the worker is no longer just a proletarian but also a citizen, consumer and participant in a plurality of positions within the country's cultural and institutional apparatus; if, moreover, this ensemble of positions in no longer united by any 'law of progress' (nor, or course, by the 'necessary laws'), then the relations between them become an open articulation which offers no a priori guarantee that it will adopt a given form. There is also the possibility that contradictory and mutually neutralising subject positions will arise. In that case, more than ever, democratic advance will necessitate a proliferation of different political initiatives in different social areas... [and] each initiative [will come] to depend on its relation with the others." 

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