Thursday, April 18, 2013

Standing Precariat (3)

Guy Standing says that the precariat must be understood as an emerging class. There are three varieties of precariat.

  • People falling out of the working class are the first group. Their parents had stable full time work, so they know what they want, but they do not have it... This group is dangerous, because they are relatively uneducated, very desperate, very angry, and very easily mislead by populists of the far right. Many neo-nazi groups are appealing to them because it seems like migrants are taking their job. Populists play on their fears, and say they are afraid, because of “them”. These groups are often part of the precariat, so the precariat is at war with itself.

  • Denizens are migrants and ethnic minorities, who do not belong anywhere. They have less rights than other people in their society, often because they are taken away from them by the government. They often lose social rights, because they may have fallen foul of the law. They do not have citizens rights in any country. This group keeps their heads down and concentrates on surviving. They are politically detached. This is dangerous, because they could be dragged into the wrong trends.

  • Young educated people with status frustration are the third group. They have spent a huge amount of money on their education in expectation of employment, careers, identity and status. Millions have been told to invest in the future, they have taken on debt and have found that they have been sold a lottery ticket that costs less and less and more and more. The debt bubble is going to look small compared with the education bubble. Universities have been turned in human capital factories that no longer encourage curiosity, a sense of history and the ability think. The market for graduates is over supplied.

The first part of the precariat is vulnerable to demagogues, but the third part is more progressive in its orientation, and is a rapidly growing in proportion. Thirty percent unemployment rates indicate a huge pool of disaffected youth. Most people have children and relatives in the precariat. The third group are green, they are furious about the fact that they cannot use their education.

The third group is rejecting old style politics of centre left and centre right. The old laborist traditions of social democracy do not appeal to them.

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