Link Roundup: August 7

Welcome to Flood Media’s link roundup! Each week, we bring you fresh Flood-approved content from around the web, covering current events, debates, and hot takes.

To kick off, Meagan Day’s summary for Jacobin of a new psychological study on neoliberal perfectionism gave me a rueful twinge of recognition. The study “describes the feeling of paranoia and anxiety engendered by the persistent — and not entirely unfounded — sensation that everyone is waiting for you to make a mistake so they can write you off forever.” In this telling, the commodification of [everything you can think of] lies behind our seeping, generational mental health crisis. It’s tempting to think that a comprehensive political victory over capital might be enough liberate us from that crisis, but this piece reminds us that we’ll need to tame the idea of meritocracy as well. Pardon me if Flood sounds like a broken record but it will NOT surprise you to learn that to beat neoliberal perfectionism we need.. solidarity!

This next eye-treat has solidarity in absolute spades. Antoine Dangerfield is a welder from Indianapolis whose video of a wildcat (or illegal) strike by Latino construction workers went viral this week. Instead of enduring racist bullying from a supervisor, the workers walked off and shut down a construction site while Dangerfield whoops with delight. “Y’all gone and fucked up! … They thought was goin’ play with these amigos, and they said --oh yeah we rise together, homie!” Dangerfield was later fired for posting the video. Even so, it has five million views online, that’s five million people witnessing a new example of our collective power: “aint no grindin’, cuttin’, weldin’ - this mothafucker dead-ass quiet!” ...OK maybe not quite five million once you subtract all the times I watched it yesterday.

In case that wasn’t enough euphoric worker power for you, please enjoy this instant classic from Victoria from last month. As they say.. killer dance moves + union solidarity = one helluva picket line.

The recent upswing of independent worker organising across China that has raised wages in the world’s workshop is geopolitically interesting and culturally fascinating. Folks there are facing conditions wildly tougher than our own - organising an independent trade union is unlawful, and crimes like “stirring up trouble” are far more enthusiastically prosecuted than their more subtle analogues in Australia. This clip from SACOM showing a rather muscular strike at a Jasic (power tools) factory - complete with human battering-rams and police brutality - is a wake-up call for anyone who still sees Chinese factory workers as meek sweatshop pawns. Here’s a Radio Free Asia write-up of the same “Maoist-led” struggle.

Speaking of old ideas in new contexts, I couldn’t avoid including this characteristically brilliant extract from Yanis Varoufakis’ introduction to a new edition of The Communist Manifesto, re-published by the Guardian in April 2018. Instinctively readable, Varoufakis puts communism’s mission in typically provocative terms: “Given that it is neither possible nor desirable to annul capitalism’s “energy”, the trick is to help speed up capital’s development (so that it burns up like a meteor rushing through the atmosphere) while, on the other hand, resisting … its tendency to steamroller our human spirit.” He makes the claim that Marx and Engels were the ultimate liberals: “Where the manifesto lambasts bourgeois-liberal virtues, it does so because of its dedication and even love for them,” concluding “If this reading of the manifesto holds water, the only way of being a communist is to be a libertarian one.”

Likewise, Alain Badiou’s lucid and slightly cantankerous essay for Verso (republished from Le Monde) grabs a few common tropes about nature, technology and climate change by the antlers and wrenches at our settled assumptions. For Badiou, capitalism is the tail end of the Neolithic, with its ancient triad of private property (which concentrates wealth narrowly), the family (which transmits that wealth by inheritance) and the state (which forcibly protects them both). Just as  it has enslaved technology to private profit, so too has it hooked up finite natural resources to boundlessly greedy engine of accumulation. “The problem is not technology, or nature. The problem is how to organise societies at a global scale. We need to posit that a non-Neolithic way of organising society is possible.” What Alain said.


--- Post-script: It's worth noting that Flood editors and contributors hold diverse opinions on a range of topics. Many of the articles we link to will represent points of debate or disagreement within our editorial team and the Left in general. We don't shy away from this diversity of views - in fact we think it makes our project more interesting, and we invite our readers to reflect and engage alongside us.

--- Photo credit: Solidarity mural: Hands in Solidarity, Hands of Freedom mural on the side of the United Electrical Workers trade union building on West Monroe Street at Ashland Avenue in Chicago, Illinois-- photo from Atelier Teee's photostream at Flickr.