[NetBehaviour] The New Metropolis: The Neoliberal/vectoral Carrots, labor and education.

marc.garrett marc.garrett at protonmail.com
Sun Apr 29 20:57:35 CEST 2018

Hi all,

I'm stealing this text which was recently posted on the Nettime email list by Patrick Lichty. And I thought, why should they get the more detailed posts?

I know Patrick will forgive me ;-)

Wishing all well. Marc

The New Metropolis: The Neoliberal/vectoral Carrots, labor and education. By Patrick Lichty...

I’ve been sitting down here from my science fiction scenario perch in the Middle East, and see the following in my old home, the US, but see echoes in Europe as well. There is a cultural scaffold unfolding regarding education, labour, and capital that concerns me greatly, and most of the commentary I see is amazingly short term,a nd I would like to connect some dots for a longer term scenario.

Regarding education, I have seen devaluation of academic labor and revaluation of relatively unskilled labour.  This week, there was furor about University of Illinois Carbondale recruiting “volunteer” adjuncts to teach seminars, single classes for up to three years for Free. According to the Chancellor’s office, my understanding was that this was a chance to get teaching experience before becoming PAID adjuncts.  Being that getting a PhD often entails many tens of thousands of dollars to get to the point of being a graduate, the idea of allowing “free” adjunct labour is especially repugnant when these should be paid teaching assistantshipsor junior adjunct positions. In no way should this sort of arrangement be tolerated – as it reminds me of the common idea given to artists of gratis “exposure”

Exploitative vectoral extraction of value is exactly what it looks like. Every time.

On the other side of the educational fence, news stories like the spurious Fox News report that put forth an invective about student being passed on, not studying, and if they engage, being indoctrinated with Left Wing values that go against the values that their parents had instilled them with (perhaps from Fox News…) Additionally, Gross and Marcus’ recent piece on NPR gives a strange mirror from the more progressive side – that higher-paying trades are begging while high schoolers are being sold questionable futures through a college education.

I see this as a tremendously fraught situation where an economic incentive is given to enter trades and not enter the university system, which might be a backhanded way for the working class (re: Fox News audience) to be enticed once again not to enter an environment that could run afoul of the ontological regime of neoliberalism.  While I am not against a good living for anyone, there was a time when higher education was about creating the citizen of a liberal society (as such, not in the pejorative political term), and not purely in the creation of Labor (i.e. “getting a job”).

Being that total U.S. student debt stands at 1.4 trillion Dollars (Dr. Evil pinky pointed to mouth), the shift from federal support to private loans while administrative costs has gotten much  higher is something to consider.  The cost of higher education in North America, and especially the USA, has become onerous, and driven students increasingly into the strictly utilitarian camp.

Meanwhile, in the workforce, these trades might be extant, but on the left hand, jobs are either being replaced by automation, AI, or offered at fast-food wages.

The issue here is forcing a workforce to retrain at increasingly higher cost while the necessity for retraining increases (with the onus of paying for retraining being largely on the worker), where even fast food jobs are being replaced by automation, and the concentration of wealth continues to increase at exponential rates.

Secondly, the notion of Basic Universal Income, I still hold to my argument with Stanley Aronowitz’ regarding his 1990’s book, The Jobless Future, in that a large percentage of individuals, given the chance to be independent of paid labour, that the gainfully unemployed will take to ideas of enlightened self-interest, where my experience in Eastern Ohio in the USA would be to engage in less than gainful activities, not be involved in healthy behavior, and so on.  But on the other hand, this is not that I am supporting work-fare programs either, as they are intrinsically demeaning as they place difficult work requirements for little money who need to be searching for better jobs with that time.

But on the other hand, what if BMI is merely a strategy for vectoral extraction for consumer spending from the public sector while concentrating that wealth in the hands of the automators until… … … the reserves of capital are gone.

This is, as I see it a scenario in at least the USA in 15-30 years.  At this time, I see an utter collapse of Western economic stability, shifting into Asian markets, or a huge redistribution of wealth, heralding an economic “Rebuilding of New Zion” after the reset of the Economic Mattix.

However, as Morpheus once said, “What is the matrix? Control.” Except in this case, instead of the Duracell battery (a historical stroke of brand placement genius), it is a dollar a shekel, a euro, to mirror the classic movie Network’s “Forces of Nature” speech.

Even with the rise of cryptocurrency, we have seen the regimes of traditional economic power rise to curtail the more anarchist economic forces. Forces of nature, indeed.

From all this, adding in peak oil, Asian economic stresses, and so on that I have not even begun mention, I see a coming crisis in economic and intellectual capital as the vectoral class continue to siphon value from the highest perch, tell the masses that education isn’t worth it (maybe except for their children) while the floor on valuation of labour gets dropped ever further.

It’s from this dire molecule that I applaud things like the Pirate Party, the MoneyLab intitatives, and I call for an overall need for the political will for the reinvestment in academia as a whole, as quaint as that sounds.  It may be quaint, as I see this from my position in the Middle East, I see no quick short term solutions, and as capital continues to increase at the highest levels, the necessary correction becomes more painful with each passing year.
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