Your job after "the revolution"

As some people on libcom may already know I write a column in Black Flag magazine called Breathing Utopia, about the ways different workers see their roles and industries changing in a communist society. I'd like to expand it to book length.

I've been doing this for a few years now and the answers people come up with, often at very short notice, can be fascinating.

A librarian for example reckoned his industry would expand to provide expert help finding and sharing everything you might need once in a while, from books to heavy machinery.

An international development worker reckoned most of his industry was superfluous or even actively damaging - but some of it would remain.

A postie decided that an industry which transcended and linked local communities would have to be under the day-to-day control of its workers rather than communities, but would need to consistently integrate their demands and be ultimately accountable to them.

This kind of thing is important I think, because it brings the direct, practical expertise of working individuals to the question of what we'd actually want to see in that warm, fuzzy, post-capitalist society of our dreams. And because it shows our ideology very clearly for what it is, rather than what others would like it to paint it as.

It shows us as human beings who want to make the world a better place, rather than as just intractable opponents of the mainstream.

So with that in mind I'm asking for volunteers to talk about their industries under the banner of a few basic questions.

- What do you do?
- How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
- What would change now if you had the chance?
- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

Have a think and if you fancy writing a few answers you can either post below or feel free to PM me! What I've found is that most industries have their own peccadilloes and follow-up questions, so I'll almost certainly give you a shout with follow-up asks.

Ooh, quick plug while I'm here, the next Breathing Utopia, along with the next Black Flag, is currently at the printers. Keep an eye out at London Mayday cos hopefully we'll be selling it there...

Comments

801
Apr 27 2012 12:32

This looks really interesting.

JimJams
Apr 27 2012 12:35

- What do you do?

Unemployed but use to work in a call centre so will talk about that.

- How does your industry function today and how is it structured?

I worked directly for a large media company but many, if not most, call centre workers are employed by independent call centres who can work for multiple companies at once.

- What would change now if you had the chance?

Workers control (obviously).Focus on customer self help so work can be reduced.Shorter hours to reduce stress (why i'm unemployed).Heavy emphasis on learning new skills, most call centre jobs (excluding financial) often deal with some form of technology.

- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?

To be honest i'd hope the industry would mostly die out.Immediately following a revolution would probably exist for a while with changes as outlined above.Whether people would want cable/Satellite tv or whether people would want to manufacture such devices is highly doubtful.Whether this work (both manufacture and support) could be largely automated is unknown but i think more than possible if people really want these services.

Let me be clear.I'm not necessarily opposed to industrial production but a revolution wouldn't mean much to me if it wasn't trying to abolish most "unnecessary" work and replace it with the ability to follow both personal and collective pursuits. Post revolution what's available should be largely determined by what workers individually and/or collectively want to provide. If people are happy to do the work fine but swapping one society for another where the capitalist mode of production stays the same with some more workers control isn't one I'm interested in (and sounds a bit like PARECON).

- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

IF the industry still existed it be should controlled by workers in all areas (including engineers etc providing tv package/phone/whatever else) and the service users/community where workplaces are based. Probably most importantly the call centres could be used to provide support for other syndicalist work places assuming that company provided media would be reduced.It could be that existing call centres could advise on different matters or be retooled for something entirely different (determined by workers.community).But ultimately i would hope that the majority of call centre jobs as we know them would be abolished.

Sorry if you think i went off topic but just wanted to emphasise that moving towards syndicalism isn't the end of a revolution for me but the very beginning.Something that eventually needs to be changed as well.

JimJams
Apr 27 2012 12:46

I'd just add to my last post that as (i think) most call centre jobs are financial/insurance etc based so there would be a massive surplus of workers providing call centre services that might exist post revolution. This could be used to 1)Let people who don't want a CC job to do something else 2)Heavily reduce working time 3)Leave many call centres empty which could be geared to wards support for different industries/retooled for entirely different purposes.

Again sorry for the long answer.

Rob Ray
Apr 27 2012 12:56

Thanks a lot Jim Jams, don't worry about length the average I do for these is about 1,500 words! At work atm but I'll have a think about related stuff and get back to ya.

Choccy
Apr 27 2012 16:17

- What do you do?
Science teacher

- How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
Intensely bureacratic and authoritarian, for both staff and students.
Almost every aspect of school is, for want of a better term, 'un-natural'.
From uniforms, to compulsory timetables, compulsory exams and subjects, asking permission to use the toilet (bad enough for students, but teachers literally cannot go to the toilet in lessons, and if you;ve no free periods that day, tough), while for staff, performance management, endless bureacracy, constantly being pissed on by bosses and the media, performance related pay coming in, regional pay coming in, league tables, constant judgement etc etc.

- What would change now if you had the chance?
Smaller class sizes, less than a 10:1 teacher ratio, with other support. Less rigid timetables, far less exams, and only those that really want to pursue a field doing it, but the freedom to explore other choices should you change your mind later.

- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
Subject specialisms would stay, it's not even capitalism's fault that I'd be a rubbish art teacher wink
In fact we'd actually be able to 'teach' our subjects, as opposed to being spread thin and co-opted to teach (badly, usually) outside our specialisms because of budget pressures in schools and high staff turnovers.
Age divisions I'd imagine would roughly stay, but hopefully the stigma would be removed form people who work at a slower pace need extra time to pick stuff up.

99% of bureacracy would go, judgements of pupils and staff would go, unless sought, and then it would be constructive.
All managers would go, work shy people who generally speaking hate kids and can't wait to get out of the classroom and spend as little time near it hiding in their offices.
Uniforms can also fuck off, as can staff dress codes. In communism I shall wear my Uniform Choice tshirt to work, because I am a 'cool teacher' wink

- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?
The school would simply be a part of the community, open for everyone to avail of facilities but may specialise depending on community and workplace decisions. Classes would be much smaller and teachers would be much more facilitators, though they'd still have to teach, a physicist will hoepfully know their shit and be free to impart it, should people want to hear.

Parents would be free to come in and work with their kids and get involved, especially in practical subjects.

My own subject would be much more practical. Without constant assessment and exams, we'd actually be able to do much more science, especially outside, collecting insects, blowing shit up, whatever. And with smaller classes, much smaller classes, it'd be considerably less of a ball-ache to do activities like that, and the scope for off-site visits etc would be much greater.

Just some thoughts off top of my head.

knotwho
Apr 27 2012 18:17

Cool idea. Mine should be interesting in relation to Choccy's, since it's also education-related.

What do you do?
I work in the Admin office of a science center/children's museum. The center is made up of hands-on exhibits that allow people to engage with scientific principles (light, water, sound, math, etc.) and implicitly learn the 'rules'.

Besides my regular office duties (phones, photocopying, processing payment, etc.), I get to help out with the educational mission, since staffing is often crunched. So, I teach classes and lead school groups who are visiting.

How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
The museum is a public-private partnership, which means that it gets some public money but also has to go out and hound corporate funders. It also means that the workers are not union and so pay is lower than in purely public institutions. A board of directors hires an Executive Director who oversees departmental directors and staff. Pretty standard non-profit, in that sense.

The museum has pretty close links to the community, and we give out free memberships to low-income schools. We also do outreach programs to schools, and sell some of the in-house crafted exhibits to other museums.

What would change now if you had the chance?
The obvious stuff like direct workers' control, better remuneration, lower hours, etc.

On a bigger scale, our museum could use more resources to keep building new exhibits and designing curriculum, spreading the educational approach. I would also like to see an ecological education component.

What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
I think this model of education, which is open-ended but supported with knowledgeable teachers and really good materials, is close to the way folks would learn in a libertarian society. So I would say keep most of it.

The admin work would hopefully diminish to almost nada, since we wouldn't have to charge people to come, and wouldn't be dependent on courting politicians and corporations to donate money. Maybe we could get rid of the parking lot, too.

How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?
I think existing schools would need to be majorly retrofitted to suit the new educational goals of the society. Blowing out walls to make big windows, making food forests out of parking lots, building every kind of contraption to help facilitate making art or experimenting with scientific principles.

I also like the idea of learning taking place across age levels: parents helping kids learn science, different aged kids working together, etc.

Sound utopian. But that's the idea, right?

Conjoined
Apr 28 2012 05:41

What do you do?
Work in a grocery supermarket.

How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
Food, alcohol and nutritional supplements are commodities and the entire industry functions to drive sales of the most profitable commodities. As these commodities are consumed almost immediately, some of the contradictions related to the declining rate of profit are temporarily sidestepped.

The 'anarchy' of production reigns. The industry consists of medium and small firms competing with each other, usually on the field of 'customer service,' as this is a 'value-added' experience that can be somewhat controlled by management, and other inputs are homogenized by medium-large distributors./i]
Obviously, workers' control through democratic self-management and a 2/3 reduction in working hours for the same social consumption credit (tbd). Also, fuck all stupid 'choices' between branded products; I'm perfectly content with ONE brand of decent wine, ONE brand of high-test vodka, ONE brand of frozen 'french' fries, ONE brand of diet soda (am I joking, or not?), ONE brand of toothpaste, etc.

What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
People got to eat, drink and be healthy. I'd be willing to spend four 4hr days working the distribution centers for the products necessary for said activities. Managers, whose sole purpose is to intensify labor exploitation, can get fucked.

How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

The goal is to meet everyone's food, drink and health needs with minimized labor and alienation. Outside of the arctic, antarctic and sub-arctic and sub-antarctic regions, lots of food could be grown locally under direct control of the community. Surpluses can be distributed globally based on self-assessed community need. Ultimately, my job, like a lot of other retail industry horseshit, is completely expendable. Only under capitalism could a job like mine exist, and in the liquidation of capitalist social relations, my job would probably evaporate.

jef costello
Apr 28 2012 08:26

Basically everything that Choccy said, plus this which isn't that much different.

- What do you do?
Languages Teacher

- How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
Basically we get edicts telling us to educate children and take into account development difference etc and then teachers and the children are judged arbitrarily in exams, for example if a kid has a certain grade in science at age 7 then they are expected to get certain grades all the way through school. IT might have been a lucky result, the child might have been coached etc, you also have the problem that it takes nothing else into account, so if a child's mother, grandmother dies, if their parents divorce, if they have to move, if they change foster placements, if they have a period of depression, if they break their wrist... all of these things can affect exam performance and none of them are taken into account.Schools are also judged arbitrarily, for example going below 30% A*-C grades can drop a school into 'special measures' which usually means the head etc are replace by a new team and everyone is put under a microscope. Althought there is a value-added teaching mark (whether on average kids outperform the predictions) this isn't used to evalute the schools. We are overloaded with paperwork that does nothing to help students.
We have a relative amount of freedom in relation to the curriculum at first (years 7-9) but as we are teaching languages we are restricted by what we need to get across, also most of the resources are pretty similar.
We are performance managed individually by looking at our exam results and occasional observatins of our lessons. Once in a while OFSTED come and all hell breaks loose as this can make or break a school in terms of funding.
The focus on the A*-C bracket also means that struggling schools often ignore students who are not on the C/D borderline, as students on that line are the ones that make the difference to the league tables.
- What would change now if you had the chance?
Cut the hours. A full time teacher will have nearly 30 hours contact time in class. Throw in 10 mins a week to mark each kid's book and that's 30 odd hours again, add in time to talk to kids who need sime support, add in contacting parents when there is a problem, and there isn't time to plan lessons.
I would like to teach a lot less so I would have time to prepare and plan lessons. I would like smaller classes so I could actually engage with the students. I would like to be able to take more trips, bring in people from the community, combine lessons with other disciplines, be able to use extra resource that I don't have to pay for.
I really enjoy the pastoral side of my job, but no time is set aside for it. So basicaly no one really cares if I do it well, but obviously kids need to know that someone gives a shit about them.
- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
Schools as places should stay, but classrooms need to have more resources and schools need to be much more open places that the community are involved in (not the open schools bullshit which means classrooms are rented out and things that are left in there disappear or are moved)
Targets and the rest should go. To a large extent exams too. I have A* (top grade students) who can actually speak French, but might not actually get the top grade because the margins on the exam paper are wafer thin. Or because they actually gave an answer to a question rather than mechanically calculating how many key phrases and bits of language they could add in. I'm not entirely against the idea that they need to be able to show all of their skills and knowledge. I also don't like controlled assessments which favour students who can get external support.
More choice for students. When I was at school they picked a language for us at 11 and we could change at 14 (but who would because they'd be starting fromscratch in an exam class) in many schools now they teach two languages until 14 then the student chooses one to continue with (until recently they often chose neither as languages tend to be a bit expensive in terms of resources and are harder and were not included as key subjects in league tables)
- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?
Tough one, I think learning a language is a key part of education. It increases a person's ability to express themself, it makes them more reflective, it opens their mind to ideas of expression and audience and what language actually does when you use it.
Most students and their parents disagree. I would hope that a language would still be largely compulsory, especially at first. Hopefully it would be taught in an interesting enough way that children would want to do it. For example by having speakers of foreign languages working with children from an earlier age and actually being integrated into the classroom so children see a language as a method of opening access to literature, information, cultures and most importantly to people.
I would like people from within the community to be helping to teach languages within schools, or even just showing the languages, why not have someone's dad/aunt/cousin come in and teach kids a song in turkish, or how to count to ten in cantonese, or a recipe in pashto. It would also be nice to have the community involved in choosing the languages we teach. And supporting us. Why not have someone come in and teach us about an area they have visited, or came from, or where something interesting happened.

Choccy
Apr 28 2012 10:01
jef costello wrote:
Cut the hours. A full time teacher will have nearly 30 hours contact time in class. Throw in 10 mins a week to mark each kid's book and that's 30 odd hours again, add in time to talk to kids who need sime support, add in contacting parents when there is a problem, and there isn't time to plan lessons.

this

and especially this

Quote:
I would like to teach a lot less so I would have time to prepare and plan lessons. I would like smaller classes so I could actually engage with the students. I would like to be able to take more trips, bring in people from the community, combine lessons with other disciplines, be able to use extra resource that I don't have to pay for.

Standfield
Apr 28 2012 12:43

*What do you do?

Been a pub-worker on and off since I was 16, basically funding what I really want to do in life - which I might focus on later if that's ok.

*How does your industry function today and how is it structured?

In many hierarchical forms. I'd say the two main currents in the pub trade are managed houses and tenancies. A managed house is basically a pub that is owned by a pub company or brewery, and is run by a salaried manager. A tenancy is when the manager (or in this case, landlord) rents the property himself and runs it as his own business. Sometimes a landlord can rent a property from a brewery on the condition that the main beers are the brewery's own (this is called a tied-house).

In most cases staff are treated like shit, as your boss is either worried what his bosses are thinking, or if he can afford his rent to keep his business going. But I'd say the bosses who run their own pubs are generally better to work for as they can run the pub how they like without a boss breathing down their neck (we all know what that feels like).

*What would change now if you had the chance?

Better pay and conditions for staff. Simple. Pub work can be fun, but there are very little rewards. It's physical (cellar work, always on your feet), you have to deal with a lot of shit from pissed up people, shifts can be from 10am to the early hours, making social life difficult to organise. Pubs often break rules regarding breaks, and they take advantage of the fact that they can replace you in an instant, so there's little room for complaint, especially when it comes to hiring foreign people who aren't sure of the rules, and/or are desperate enough not to complain. I've don't know how many times I've tried to organise people to rally behind a certain cause, but when you work with guys who are sending money back to their home 2,000 miles away it's understandable why they are reluctant to complain.

Health and Safety rules are also a fucking joke, as I've found it normally just comes down to what the company regards as "safe". For example: I've had to carry barrel after barrel of crap lager down winding stairs because our lift was broken. I looked on the governments health and safety guidelines, and got an inspector in anonymously. He said although we shouldn't be doing that, the company is within it's rights as the lift is broken and there is no other way of getting kegs and barrels down the stairs.

I'd change the prices of beer also, as it is killing off trade. But it's not trade I'm really worried about, it's the social thing. And with my conspiracy hat on, I believe the Government are quite happy to de-socialise pubs. It's where people unwind, and more dangerously, talk. Working in local pubs for just over ten years now, I've seen just how much politics get's talked in pubs, however superficially.

But I guess none of the above can really happen while capitalism still rules supreme.

*What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?

I can't think of a lot I'd keep apart from the pub itself, the people and the booze, haha. But it's an interesting question, and I've thought about it often, without reaching many conclusions if I'm honest.

How would you regulate alcohol consumption in a free society? Would we need to? Maybe people would booze less, as the stress working under capitalism is gone. Alcohol would certainly be better, as there'd be no need for cheap alternatives, or cutting corners, so many tastes would be refined, and respect for alcohol gained.

Working could be fun, and I could imagine people doing it "voluntarily". There'd be no need to cut corners when coming to safety issues, and intolerance towards staff would wither away once we all become "equal". I think more respect would be given, and that is what I feel is the main let-down in bar-work to be honest. Running a successful community "hub" would give the staff some sense of pride too, instead of just thinking, "I'm creating alcoholics".

I can imagine the post-revolution pub though as being an amazing place, regardless of the booze element. It would be free of all stupid licencing laws we have now (paying for a music licence, a 24 hour licence, etc). I can imagine them being great social centers, not just drinking dens like they are now. Places where people meet up, and plan things, or just talk. A proper public house, where everyone is looked after. I don't think it's hard to imagine this, as there are still pubs that embody this idea, yet are restricted in what the do by silly laws that are there just to make money for the state.

*How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society

I think I kind of answered it in the last paragraph above. I think the community and society would be the more better if people socialised more in better environments, and I feel pubs (or cafes, or whatever the local meeting point is in different cultures) would improve immensely in this new utopia. The more you get to know your neighbours, surely the sense of belonging will improve. Alienation can be a killer, and pubs could play an important role in combating this.

Rob Ray
Apr 29 2012 11:19

Cheers for these all, I'll run through them and get back to people fairly soon smile.

Uncreative
Apr 30 2012 19:42
Rob Ray wrote:
Cheers for these all, I'll run through them and get back to people fairly soon smile.

Do you want any more doing?

A Wotsit
Apr 30 2012 20:22

Here's mine... waffled a bit, tried to trim it, but I'm better at waffling than editing!

What do you do?
'Help' (or try to convince) schools to save money on their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. On one side I try to get money and spend it on making school buildings more energy efficient. I also work directly with schools to help them take practical steps to involve the staff and students in reducing energy waste and learning about climate change.

How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
It barely functions, I am employed by the council directly so I work within local government structures and also have to interpose myself within the schools own governance structures. I work with caretakers, governors, children, heads, teachers, bursars and business managers on behaviour changes and managing energy use. I commission or instruct (or argue with) contractors and consultants on the building improvements. Increasingly the agents of private investors are looking to cash-in on energy efficiency or renewables subsidy incentives or 'invest to save' repayment arrangements by offering stuff to schools (which can get very complicated). Ultimately all of my work is driven by, or severely undermined by, money (what is cost effective for council, or profitable for investors), national government policy and local councillors. Schools don't really have to do what I suggest they do, but they do have to deal with lots of other arbitrary bullshit so they often don't have time to do their bit to lessen the likelihood that children are going to face terrible disasters or even to save a few grand on the leccy. Most schools waste huge amounts of energy and almost all don't really give kids any of the skills they need to mitigate or adapt to climate change. The bulk of the capital work on the buildings side is delivered by private contractors and consultants, for considerable profit and dubious value for money. The mainstream approach (advocated by Eco Schools, the Carbon Trust and most local authorities) to saving energy without capital is to help schools set up an 'environmental management system' where they set up an action team made up of a 'representative' spread of the school community (kids, site staff, finance staff, teachers, senior management, governors etc) who do an audit to identify areas of energy waste and opportunities to reduce it, make an action plan and divide up tasks and responsibilities and measure how effective each action is, and repeat this cycle. We also have to try and pressure school admin/ site staff to make sure they follow legislation about getting display energy certificates and taking meter readings for reporting to central government for carbon taxes.

There are massive layers of bureaucracy and hierarchy to deal with and lots of 'stakeholders' who meddle but don't help, a shortage of time to do productive things and not enough resources put into the right areas to do anything really effective. An endless stream of companies exaggerating their abilities to save schools money and trying to charge as much as possible. Lots of pointless meetings and lots of fruitless activity as projects get worked on until the funding gets cut, or never materialises, or school leadership just don't want to take it on. There is a lot of pointless toil to meet the ever-changing expectations of authority. The structure of the teams in the council which do 'sustainability' stuff constantly changes. Austerity undid so much in terms of planned investment in school buildings. The targets-driven curriculum largely ignores that kids need to learn about what kind of environmental and social problems they're inheriting. Amongst the people who are supposed to support 'sustainable development' whether they're doing it for profit or as a 'public servant' there is a total lack of understanding that capitalism and a lot of environmental law and policy is fundamentally incompatible with sustainability on every level (which is supposedly exclusively about meeting people's needs in a way which doesn't compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs). Many schools can't cope, or won't engage, with the additional burden of what we're asking them to do, but at those schools where they do involve the kids in working together to make decisions to tackle common issues and build practical environmental awareness into the general fabric of school life rather than treating it as a one off thing, you do see the benefits, kids care about this stuff and are surprisingly radical and pragmatic if you give them access to the right information.

What would change now if you had the chance?
In the short term, more funding for schools, less testing, more teaching outside, more school trips, smaller classes, more non-teaching time for teachers, more non-lesson time for kids (where they work in small committees as elected delegates to make day-to-day decisions on the running of the school, which get debated and ratified via assemblies, or just play). Longer term, workers self-management, more time for teachers to teach about stuff that matters, give kids and parents more of a collective say in how schools operate. Help set up a big programme of making lots of ecologically practical and awesomely fun education buildings, or education landscapes that provide abundant food, play, living space, water and community-scale ecologically friendly manufacturing infrastructure and productive social spaces. Schools that meld seamlessly into other realms of pro-social ecologically sound communal activity. FULL COMMUNISM

What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?
I think there would still be people who specialised in helping kids learn and develop, and some form of collective socialisation for kids, and a collective way to make sure kids are supervised when their parents want to do something else makes sense, so schools of a sort would exist. I think there would be more time for passionate specialists in their field who weren't necessarily education or childcare specialists to get involved and for schools to become much less defined by one location (room or buildings) and rigid divisions between study and play would disappear. Parents, education workers and people who can support education in other ways (food, resources, buildings, art, books, music, film, making stuff etc) cooperating on teaching kids things they really need to know, dealing directly with each other without the filter of school management, local authority meddling and government testing. I think 'schooling' should just become more natural human development in a society where people are free to spend their time constructively, socially and often 'idly'.

How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?
There would be specialists who worked in particular areas who would self-manage the means of production they employed on a day to day basis, subject to direct influence of the wider community, so I think there would be a place where parents could leave children with other adults who were known to be good with kids. There would be schools of a kind, but we would be entitled to use our time and energy as we choose so they would be way different from schools now, parents would be much more involved, there would be less time being in one building, more time out and about meeting other people and learning about other aspects of the community and of the lives, skills and knowledge of others. Schools would be more about fun collective tasks, individual passions, learning through hands-on stuff in interesting places and games and trips too. On the sustainability side, since essentially all of the natural world is held in common and we're trying to make decisions on that basis, community and social forces would bring out the best in people, rather than profit and wages and class dividing us and constraining our socially productive activity we would relax more, engage in new challenges more and still find time to specialise in individual ways. Whatever tasks needed doing would be undertaken by those willing and able to do them, most things would be a pleasure and the collective toil would be fluid and there would be lots of movement between engaging socially productive tasks to meet collective or individual material needs (e.g. fixing a roof, gathering food) and pure-socialisation (e.g. getting pished) as people chose. The worst jobs would disappear and the remaining unpleasant tasks would be made as pleasant as possible by those willing to do them (and the wider community which would benefit from whatever task it is, I dunno, unblocking a sewer lets say, or moving a corpse) and those of us who like mucking in to be helpful would get social rewards (gratitude etc). We would be planting our communal land with fruit and nut trees and perennial crops, rethinking what we want to eat and how we should grow and share it, we would be slowly establishing food forests and depopulating the overcrowded cities and making the countryside full of a diverse range of food species and human habitats rather than sterile cash crop fields which lay barren for much of the year. The cities would remain as centres of art, socialising, manufacturing, partying and sharing the awesome stuff we make, find and grow, but would become much more pleasant to live in without landlords, government, waged labour, rich and poor divisions and police. Any decisions which affect the wider community would have established democratic procedures based on mass assemblies, residents councils, workers councils and bio-regional councils and a system of consensus building and delegates elected with a direct mandate who would be instantly recallable to those who elected them. We would make much more use of technology to inform each other about what's going on that's important or interesting or what we thought would be a good idea, or stuff we needed help with or whatever. It's hard to say exactly how it would be structured but essentially I think we would have directly democratic communes with a fairly free flow of people moving and travelling between them. The means of production would be owned and managed collectively, not just by the workers but also by those who have a significant social stake in it, or potentially do. School would be part of life, it wouldn't be a thing you do at a certain age then stop to do work instead. I expect we'd use a range of different ways of making decisions collectively and would be adept at jointly organising the useful stuff we currently do at work. Information would flow more freely and be less prone to bias caused by bosses lying to workers or vice versa or an employee lying to a customer or vice versa or businesses lying to rivals or managers lying to owners or whatever. The honesty revolution would allow people to make more rational collective decisions. Some people would have a more fixed lifestyle if they chose to remain heavily involved in helping a particular 'workplace' (group of people who use a thing or place to do something, individually, mutually and socially useful together- such as teach kids things) or community 'full time' but generally learning and change would be a fun part of life, and I for one would not stick to one social task, maybe I would help build a few new 'earthship' houses at an emerging eco community a couple of days a week, then maybe head back to the city to run an English class for speakers of other languages, then head out to the coppice to gather wood for the local communal wood-fired pizza oven, the next day taking a group of kids on a nature walk and blackberry harvest so their parents can make repairs to the local pub...

I don't see a separation between school and social life and productive life if we would have equal political power and a sense of solidarity and community and social equality with those we work with and those we live with. If there was a collective need we would cooperate to get it, if it was an individual one, we would pursue it with the necessary social-checks that a society of individuals free from coercive authority naturally creates. I think the worst anti-social behaviour would be overcome, or at least minimised by the tendency for people to want to be liked, to cooperate to get what they want and to want to be socially productive. Where someone was behaving anti-socially I think the ability of free individuals to assert their collective interests would usually overcome or limit this. Without the exploitation, coercion and alienation of capitalism and artificial hierarchy I think the structure of society as a whole would be pretty dynamic and responsive to people's needs and desires at that time, so I think parents and people who like kids would just cooperate to enrich children's lives as much as possible and don't think society at large would have such a bad attitude towards children and would welcome having them around and having the chance to interact with them and share their knowledge and skills and play and whatnot.

Rob Ray
Apr 30 2012 23:04

uncreative: Yep as many as possible!

Konsequent
May 3 2012 13:31

I should mention this one is a bit contentious and this is just my personal take on it.

- What do you do?

I work as a rentboy and advertise mainly on gay cruising sites. My job description covers pretty much everything a client wants to do during the time they've booked me for, but I make exceptions for things I believe would damage my health. That's almost always means some form of sex but if they want to talk (or watch tv, or play monopoly) then I have to look equally enthusiastic about that.

- How does your industry function today and how is it structured?

I'm not sure where my industry begins and ends, and it's hard to see what's going on with it as so much of it is a cottage industry. Regarding just prostitution there are some people working in brothels. There are other people who are employed by agencies. There are some people working independently, who advertise on websites, magazines, phonebooths etc. There are some who have individuals (pimps) instead of an agency. Some work on the street. Most rentboys seem to be independent but you can try and get employed by an agency with various advantages and disadvantages. Some of the industry is totally legal but much of it is criminalised (as in not the actual selling of sex but things surrounding it like soliciting or brothel-keeping). And many parts of the industry fall outside of most employment legislation including a lot of other parts of the sex industry in general (webcam work, porn, etc). The lines between legal and illegal aren't always that clear with many legal escort agencies run by organised crime.

- What would change now if you had the chance?

I'm more able to talk about the area of sex work in which I work. I'm sure there are many things that need changing in other areas too.

In all of the sex industry it would be a lot easier to demand safer sex practices without pressure from bosses and clients. Escorts* wouldn't have to fear being attacked at work. All escorts would be in contact with other escorts to share information.

One of the most constant hassles for specifically for callboys/girls is the number of people who waste their time, for example by asking loads of questions and even making bookings and then not turning up. Some of them presumably can't make it but the sheer number of them indicates that most of them probably just enjoy planning the booking but have no intention of turning up. From my own experience and from other escorts I'm in contact with I'd guess about 20% of the people who get in touch actually end up meeting. Most networking of escorts I've come across consists mainly of blacklisting timewasters. Ideally we would somehow eliminate this problem completely.

- What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?

My job wouldn't exist. I basically see it as financially coerced sex. There would be sex but no work so there would be no sex work. People would still have sex, as they do now, but without the financial compensation for having sex you don't want to have, there would be no prostitution.

Having said this I should think there would be changes to the ways in which people express their sexuality in general, and hopefully some of the technology currently wasted on the sex industry could be better spent on facilitating this, or helping people find other people who want to join in with the things they're doing.

For example, there would presumably still be exhibitionists and maybe rather than posting pixelated videos from their phones onto user generated content sites, they might get together with people who are good at filming and lighting and make good quality, consensual porn. This is my hope, at least.

I'm often aware of how many of my clients could be matched up to each other. For every person who wants to do something to someone there's another person who wants that doing to them. People often call asking to top in a sexual act that the week before someone else wanted to bottom in. If they didn't have the belief that they're entitled to sexual activity which revolves entirely around themselves, on demand, provided by the exact body type they are currently in the mood for, then they could easily satisfy each other.

There would still be people who take a particular interest in studying sexuality who become sex columnists, sex therapists etc, but they would be no more obliged to have sex with the people who came to them for advice than anyone else would be. Not that I'm convinced by the claim that the sex industry is providing an educational service. If you're paying someone to fake enthusiasm and to make you feel good, and who hopes you'll pay for it again, then asking them whether they had a good time is not the best way of encouraging constructive criticism. From what I can tell clients are just reinforcing bad habits. So with the abolition of money I can see a lot more opportunity for the kind of honesty necessary for people to learn about sex.

The new utopia would presumably be post-patriarchy and as such also post-gender. So I'm guessing cottaging/cruising would no longer be the domain of men who sleep with men but would be practiced by people of all variations of sexual orientation. By which I don't mean to imply that there is a “need” currently satisfied by callgirls which would then be covered by post-patriarchal free love, or something, as the existence of the commercial section of cruising sites already indicates that these are very different things. What I mean is that without economic pressures to engage in sexual relationships, and without a system which panders to men's sense of entitlement to access women sexually, and without the game of cat and mouse that is the traditional heterosexual mating ritual, there would be more room for people to honestly explore what they want, in conjunction with what the people they're interested in want.

- How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

If you consider the industry to be just people offering sexual services of any kind for the benefit of others then there wouldn't be one. If we consider it to also to include sex toys, sex clubs, and so on, then as a luxury it would be something that people contributed towards when they felt inspired to.

I think a lot of the this would still exist on the internet, not only with people having webcam sex or uploading videos but also with people finding each other to meet IRL, or to form groups of common interest.

However, I imagine that with the breakdown of sexual taboos that would come with an end to patriarchy and the commodification of sex, more interaction would move from the internet into our local communities. So for example, currently a munch (ie a meeting of BDSM enthusiasts for a non-sexual social in a cafe) in most cities might just about get double figures attending, whereas there are thousands of people contributing to internet forums on BDSM in any city. Presumably a lot of this has to do with the anonymity of the internet to discuss sexual practices. So I think a lot more people would meet in local venues to form groups of common interest or to get to know each other. Also I think there would be more sex clubs as I mentioned cottaging above but a lot of the reasons for meeting in a park are to do with anonymity due to sexual taboos and to do with the fact that you have to pay to get into sex clubs or to use hotel rooms. I think a lot of people would prefer to cruise in a club (or somewhere indoors) and would be happy to put in the effort to make that happen.

*I say escorts rather than sex workers because I'm referring specifically to people who are paid by clients to have sex with them. I think the word escort sounds like you're paying someone to have dinner with you but apparently some people find the word prostitute offensive.

Rob Ray
May 3 2012 14:40

Wow thanks Konsequent that's a really thoughtful one.

Konsequent
May 5 2012 23:09

Cheers smile

I had trouble drawing the line where the subject ends so I thought I'd post it before it got too messy.

lettersjournal
May 6 2012 15:20

Curious that almost every single one envisioned communism involving a monetary system and wages. Jef envisions communism involving compulsory education.

Choccy
May 6 2012 16:11

No they didn't. One question asked 'what would you change NOW?' meaning in the here and now, not post-revolution. Read it as 'what would make your conditions a bit better now?' - and I'd imagine just about everyone would say better pay. I certainly wouldn't say no to more money.

And Jef implied that 'education' would simply be a part of life. I think you're uncharitably reading his use of 'compulsory' and I'd agree he should have chosen a different word but there is no way you could interpret it to mean anything remotely like being forced to go to school unless you are touched in the head.

Spikymike
May 6 2012 16:32

Well Letters some of this is interesting in it's own right and I suppose well meant but the questions were framed in such a way as to illicit responses along those lines, so for instance ''the revolution'' in inverted commas but not ''your job'' or ''your industry'' with an implication that such 'industries' would continue in a post-capitalist society and a request for 'what would you do now?' inevitably bringing forth some wishful thinking along with the odd potentially practical trade union type demand or reform, though it might also reveal some limited vision of what communism as the antithesis of capitalism would practically entail. Some have tried to look a bit further though surely?

lettersjournal
May 6 2012 18:49

Jef:

Quote:
Most students and their parents disagree. I would hope that a language would still be largely compulsory, especially at first. Hopefully it would be taught in an interesting enough way that children would want to do it.

This says a few things. First, it envisions a sort of transitionary program after the revolution, during which some forms of education would be compulsory (which would imply some sort of state apparatus to enforce this, otherwise it's not actually compulsory). Second, it says that this compulsory education would be enforced against the wishes of most students and their parents, and there is doubt that even if done interestingly many children want to do it. Horrifying.

Elsewhere we hear the question, how would you regulate alcohol consumption in a free society? Indeed.

These are the fantasies of would-be commissars.

lettersjournal
May 6 2012 18:58
Quote:
No they didn't. One question asked 'what would you change NOW?' meaning in the here and now, not post-revolution. Read it as 'what would make your conditions a bit better now?' - and I'd imagine just about everyone would say better pay. I certainly wouldn't say no to more money.

This is senseless. If given the choice to arbitrarily make changes now, I would not choose to remain a wage laborer. (If allowed a fantasy within capitalism it would involve being a retired millionaire with a home on the beach and a substantial personal library, not a unionist fantasy about better pay at a worker controlled call centre.)

What would I change now about any job I've ever had? Get rid of the damn thing.

Fantasies of managing workplaces can only work towards the end of... managing workplaces, which is at odds with the idea of a beautiful communist utopia. That people are imagining the number of hours they would spend in their current job after the revolution is horrifying.

I was hoping to read of call centre workers dreaming of building ships from telephone poles or something. If you're going to construct fantasies, at least make them good.

jef costello
May 6 2012 20:21
lettersjournal wrote:
This says a few things. First, it envisions a sort of transitionary program after the revolution, during which some forms of education would be compulsory (which would imply some sort of state apparatus to enforce this, otherwise it's not actually compulsory). Second, it says that this compulsory education would be enforced against the wishes of most students and their parents, and there is doubt that even if done interestingly many children want to do it. Horrifying.

TO be honest I don't know why I'm bothering to reply to someone who so obviously has an agenda and is making a real effort to read my post in a particular way.
First of all, by at first I mean during the education process. I think all children should be exposed to other languages and I think learning one is a key part of development. You obviously skipped the part where I said it was a difficult question and explained why I felt it was so important so you could jump to the word compulsory and start imagining things.
Choccy has basically explained it anyway, possibly because he's in the teacher conspiracy or possibly because he actually read the post.
I think all children should be exposed to a language and I would like teaching of it to be enjoyable, rewarding and useful, so I think that children should be expected to have language elements within their education. So I'm not advocating whatever bad experience you had at school. The word compulsory was a bad idea but if I'm honest a child has the right and need of certain education and society has an obligation to provide this. If a child can't read or count, for example, then they have been failed by whoever has raised and educated them

lettersjournal wrote:
This is senseless. If given the choice to arbitrarily make changes now, I would not choose to remain a wage laborer. (If allowed a fantasy within capitalism it would involve being a retired millionaire with a home on the beach and a substantial personal library, not a unionist fantasy about better pay at a worker controlled call centre.)

What would I change now about any job I've ever had? Get rid of the damn thing.

I was answering the question asked. Or fitting into the little narrative you've constructed for yourself...

I hate my job, but the love of my subject that lead me there is something that I refuse to let it rob me of and something that I think we should all be open to.

Choccy
May 6 2012 21:38
jef costello wrote:
I hate my job, but the love of my subject that lead me there is something that I refuse to let it rob me of and something that I think we should all be open to.

Precisely. Being a science teacher is the only job/work I've ever had (aside from library work) where I'd actually WANT to do it in a post-revolutioanry society. That said it would no longer BE 'work' it would be me engaging in something I love. I can't say that for the customer service, callcentre and cash-handling jobs I spent 7 years doing.

I genuinely love science, and I really like working with students. If work was completely redefined tomorrow, and we were able to chose how to spend our time doing fulfilling and socially useful things, I'd defo do a post-revolutionary approximation of 'science teacher'. We wouldn't have to 'teach to the test' and we'd do very little bullshit paper work, and probably spend a lot more time blowing things up, tesing hypotheses about anything and everything. Even capitalism can't rob me of my enthusiasm for science.

It's fair to say Letters intentionally misread a lot of stuff on here, as he has done elsewhere, fair enough, pretty muichmeans nothing you write about it will be taken seriously.

Rob Ray
May 6 2012 22:00
Quote:
so for instance ''the revolution'' in inverted commas but not ''your job'' or ''your industry''

Ooh busted, clearly I think all life would merely be slightly rejigged (despite my original writetup, which if you'd ever bothered to read it would make clear I think no such thing). wall

Or, alternatively, I used "the revolution" because I don't think that'll happen in the near future and frame it thus as a matter of habit so I don't sound like a starry-eyed idiot, and didn't put "your job" or "your industry" because it would be totally pointless to do so given the rest of the question - indeed one of the examples in the OP is of a writer who reckoned most of it would disappear.

I ask about changes to everyday life while still under capitalism for the specific purpose of showing both practical and more theoretical ideas, so readers get some sort of logical progression from writing which reflects their everyday lived experiences to the ideas which underpin a seemingly quite alien politic.

But hey why NOT assume I'm coming at it from a liberal perspective, I'm sure that helps you bolster your self image as a true red, or something.

As for lettersjournal, I can't even be arsed.

Konsequent
May 6 2012 21:54
lettersjournal wrote:
Curious that almost every single one envisioned communism involving a monetary system and wages.

The remit of the question "What would change now if you had the chance?" wasn't entirely clear to me initially but seeing the next two questions it was pretty obvious that this one referred to immediate changes under capitalism to make the job less shit. Obviously the answers "revolution" or "winning the lottery" would have been technically correct but not that informative. Though some demands are in themselves reformist, others depend on the tactics employed. I think the question of what we would like to see prioritised in our current struggles with a view to strengthening the confidence in resisting amongst our fellow workers is an appropriate one.

I saw no references to a monetary system or wages in any of the answers to the last two questions.

kaja
May 7 2012 13:29

What do you do?
Care worker in a care home and nurse in a hospital (Scotland)

How does your industry function today and how is it structured?
In a care home people who for whatever reason cannot or do not want to live elsewhere live and their health and social needs are being assessed, considered and as much as possible fulfilled. The problem is in supply of money as this brand of health industry is not profitable. Private care homes charge at least £500 a week. Some money are actually paid by the Scottish government, but it is not enough. Many people end up being forced to sell their houses they paid their mortgage for 30+ years in order to pay for their care. Another problem is not enough staff in care homes, which often creates environment of an institution where only basic personal care needs are met and there is not enough time and energy to focus on other needs of people, especially social. The work-related stress and pain and injuries (especially back) are also worth to mention as workers often under stress tend to work fast and efficient, but not safe.
In hospital I have to say local NHS works hard on prevention, education and treatment. Problems are in waiting times as professionals are overloaded with work-load. Also there is a lot of paper work. Budget keeping means that there is often less staff than required which leads to high work-related stress and so on, as well as not enough money means saving on medical equipment and sometimes cheaper medication.

What do you think might need to stay in the new utopia, and what would have to go?

I think that health should be considered as priority value in the new society, so there should be a lot more resources (I like to think about new society as money-free).
In care homes I would try to connect residents more into wider community, especially children, because they are known to have a positive social impact on elderly population.
In hospital I would probably only add possibility for patients to have an alternative than science-based treatment (eg. herbs) in hospital environment (given it does not intervene to treatment of other patients), otherwise leave things the way they are. I believe there should not be "democracy", but some kind of hierarchy as it is in medical environment, and the choices should be done by the most qualified people. Also, there is a need to have some kind of qualification issued by some authority to ensure that doctor or whoever cares about you knows what is doing wink
And in both, higher levels of care workers/nurses. 1 to 4 at least. And if possible, try to train more health care professionals who are the most demanded such as dentists, orthopaedics and physiotherapists.
Maybe some management staff is unnecessary, but most of them do the work that is good to be done, capitalism or not.

How would this reshaped industry be structured and how would it relate to the twin pillars of local community and wider society (eg. the postal worker above talks about how workers would need to balance the demands of local groups with the needs of everyone else)?

I would pretty much keep things they are now. The problem might be connection to pharmaceutics, though I believe most of the drugs are good for organism if used appropriately. As there might not be troubles with too-high prices, some drugs that are available now more or less for rich only would be for all, while some other worse drugs would cease to exist.
Where I believe will be some problems is placing people into care homes as sometimes it is necessary safe precaution (eg. people with dementia) or essential vaccinations.

cornered beef
May 10 2012 16:04

Mint. kaja is letters doing a skit and I claim my five pounds.

Jim Driscoll
Sep 18 2012 20:20

Rob, sorry, but couldn't find an email for you. In our Climate Corps project, I am encouraging people to think about a post-revolutionary world. Some time ago I read something about what industries would be needed and how that would affect required income, living standards. It might have been Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel. As I recall, and makes sense, no advertizing, finance, less entertainment as currently exists, etc.. Do you have any suggestions as to where to get such info. I assume some of the Transition Town, sustainable live-style folks would add in lots less transportation. Thanks for all you do and for any help you can give.

Jim Driscoll

autogestión
Nov 12 2014 23:43

I love the idea of libraries for tools and other items that are useful only occassionally.

My job will be utterly obsolete "after the revolution"...