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Re: <nettime> Mona Cholet/ le Monde Diplolmatique: France's precarious g
Benjamin Geer on Sun, 21 May 2006 12:28:34 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Mona Cholet/ le Monde Diplolmatique: France's precarious graduate


On 19/05/06, Keith Hart <keith {AT} thememorybank.co.uk> wrote:
> At the extreme, those who stay in have opted for self-exploitation.

This sounds an awful lot like the classical liberal idea that workers
and employers are equal parties to an employment contract that they
both choose to sign, so if the workers are exploited, it's their own
fault.  As if the invisible hand of the job market had anything better
to offer.

> I spent the last two years of my PhD without any overt source of income. 
[...]
> It wasn't a bad life. We got by.  I felt a lot poorer later when I was
> a lecturer with a mortgage, car and the rest of it. [...]
>
> [S=E9verine] thinks she's frying her brains and gets nothing from it all. 
> And she has a public for this. I don't know what to make of it politically 
> or of this whole precarity movement.

I don't know how you survived "without any overt source of income"
(maybe you had some sort of safety cushion, your parents perhaps?),
but for some people, not knowing where your next month's rent is
coming from, for years on end, produces a gnawing anxiety that you can
never shake. (And yes, before you ask, I grew up under those
conditions.) Spiralling credit-card debt and drug habits are typical
symptoms.

Moreover, strange as it may seem, there are people who want something
more in life than just "getting by": not wealth, but the feeling that
they're doing something useful in the world, as opposed to just oiling
the machinery of capital.  Some people study history, art, literature
or sociology because they really think the world needs these things,
rather than in the hope of getting "a mortgage, car and the rest of
it".

> But then I joined stayed in school for the rest of my life in order to
> avoid having to get a real job.

Those of us who have had "real jobs" should forgive you for not
knowing how lucky you are.

Ben


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