This isn’t globalisation: this is Big Finance and its copyists, trampling over workers, families, communities. What’s left for such workers is the same as their blue-collar counterparts: lower wages, precarious work and a lot of borrowing. It’s already happening: 17 million British adults have less than £100 in savings. By some odd social symmetry, just over 17 million Britons voted in June to leave the EU.
Strip away professional protections and you unleash what, 170 years ago, Engels called “the battle of all against all”. In The Condition of the Working Class in England, he wrote of how “a battle for life, for existence, for everything, is fought not between the different classes of society only, but also between the individual members of these classes. The power-loom weaver is in competition with the hand-loom weaver, the unemployed or ill-paid hand-loom weaver with him who has work or is better paid, each trying to supplant the other.” I think we’re already there, except this time you can substitute the weavers for the Uber drivers, the hourly paid university lecturers, even the freelance journalists. Then paint in impossible house prices and rising fuel costs. And remember that behind Engels’s characterisation was another wealthy elite.
Aditya Chakrabortty, the economy pt. 2.