Arbeit Macht Frei

One of the great buzz-words of our day is “Inclusive Working Life”. The Big Lie here is that this is all about “social inclusion”, for instance facilitating the return to the workplace of the physically disabled, the sick and generally worn-out people who want to work. In reality it is about facilitating the return to the workplace of physically disabled, sick and generally worn-out people whom the government wants to perform labour for the capitalists.

The current trend is towards amalgamation of the social security system with the employment service, so that anyone not actively seeking work may be more easily denied benefits. It appears to have been forgotten that the social security system began as national insurance, which in turn grew out of labour unions’ mutual-benefit schemes, which in turn were inspired by medieval guilds. The essential principle of such insurance is collective finance by the members; if, after 35 years of hard physical labour your body begins to give out, it is your own money – and the premiums or taxes of your prematurely deceased colleagues — on which you are now retiring.

The current pretence is that IWL means returning dignity and a sense of social inclusion to the individual. It is, however, by no means certain that all those who are to be coerced back into working life feel any lack of dignity, especially if their disabilities are due to gruelling work in unsafe conditions; they have paid their taxes and had their health ruined in their past employer’s service, they think, so why should they not enjoy their otium? Government, however, is now pretending that such social insurance was all along a form of charitable dispensing of its own money, a charity that it claims it can no longer afford. In fact government no longer wish to spend the taxes that you have paid, for this very contingency, on anything that will benefit you. It has too many coke-snorting bankers to help out instead.

IWL is solely about saving money for the State, so that it may be returned to the rich in the usual manner, namely tax breaks, subsidies and crooked public procurement. At the same time as the State is resigning control over the doings of corporations, it is finding a new role as the manager of the national labour force supplied to said corporations. Its welfare authorities are tasked with getting people back to work, and its doctors are mandated to crack down on sick leave. Even the chronically sick and disabled must be made to work in some manner or other, on the grounds that it is good for them. It probably is good for them, but it might be better for them to enjoy the benefits of making someone else rich on a purely voluntary basis.

In my city there is a special back-pain clinic. If someone goes there looking for relief from back pain, he is given a gigantic questionnaire that is almost entirely about his employment situation; if he does not fit the rubrics because he is not actually off sick, merely in chronic distress, or perhaps self-employed, they show him the door. For the clinic is financed neither by taxes nor by the patient; instead, it is given money by the government for each employee sent back to work. Their financial incentives are, therefore, not only to ignore anyone who is not actually costing the government anything, but also to avoid diagnosing medical conditions that might dictate sick leave or disability. The structure makes them act, not as physicians sworn to the Hippocratic Oath, but rather as bounty-hunters for the Ministry of Finance, capturing runaways and returning them in shackles to the workplace. This may represent the future of medicine, serving the interests not of the patient but of the overseer, and thus ultimately of shareholder value.

Another keyword of labour relations in the new century is “flexibility”. For the labour force, this means being “flexible” over matters like falling pay, compulsory unpaid overtime, hazardous conditions, contracts not worth the paper they’re printed on, and so forth. For management, this means being flexible over – no, delete that as inapplicable. “Flexibility” is, therefore, what an earlier class of masters called “obedience”.

In the new century it is the primary function of the State to help ensure that the corporations are able to squeeze out every last drop of labour from the population. Not only are restrictions on overtime and excessive hours to go, health and safety provisions to be forgotten, and firing made easier so that no one can protest, but the age of retirement is to rise, and pensioners and the chronically sick and disabled fed back into the machine. Soon the only thing lacking will be the recycling of the corpses, as in Soylent Green.

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 10:29 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE ENSLAVING MAMMAL, From Free To Unfree Labour

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