Sunday, 15 January 2012

Forced free labour is pure Fascism

What do you call it when someone forces you to work for nothing, and who really benefits? Most people would call it slave labour, and rightly so, although I prefer to call it unwaged-slavery to distinguish it from wage-slavery. The latter occurs when people have to take low paid jobs, and I don't mean minimum wage jobs, because they have no choice. There is plenty of wage-slavery in the world and the beneficiaries are large corporations, many of which are household names. Wage-slavery is the basis of the Chinese 'economic miracle', how else do we get some many value-for-money commodities here in the West?

In the UK, as part of the latest project to humiliate and denigrate the 'benefit scroungers' - i.e. the unemployed - the Tory-led government has instituted a system where the unemployed are forced to work for corporations for no money, otherwise they lose their benefits. This is something I've blogged about in previous posts.  But now one of the victims of unwaged-slavery, Cait Reilly, who was forced to work in Poundland in order to get the princely sum of £54 benefit, has decided to fight back. She has instituted a judicial review of forced free labour and I wish her every success in her attempt to get back some dignity for the unemployed.

Of course, Cait's attempt to get justice for the unemployed in the face of the government's onslaught on the victims of capitalism has aroused to ire of pundits like the highly-paid Jan Moir, right-wing populist and uber-reactionary of this parish. According to Moir:
"........her stance is deeply insulting to those whose jobs actually do entail sweeping floors and stacking shelves. And who do so without complaint to feed their own families and to help to pay Cait Reilly’s benefits allowances. For nobody owes this girl a living. Least of all those who work for a living".
Wrong! Your stance, Ms Moir, is the real insult to all shopworkers, most of whom have to struggle on the minimum wage, which is little better than the £1.33 Cait was being 'paid' for her work. The truth is that unwaged-slavery of this sort can only undermine the conditions and pay for the paid shopworkers you profess to support still further, and the real beneficiaries are the corporations who make profits from this naked exploitation. "work for a living" is a nice way of putting it. Working to survive would be a more accurate description. Forced labour, which was used to such great effect by the Nazis, when an estimated12 million people were forced to work, and trade unionists were crushed, has no place in a civilsed society, it is pure fascism.

"Work sets you free" - the sign used at Nazi forced labour camps, most notoriously at Auschwitz 1

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