The Principal Enemy of the Precariat is the State: Exploring the Intersection of Social Class and Fashion


Hatched by Thati

Mar 24, 2024

4 min read


The Principal Enemy of the Precariat is the State: Exploring the Intersection of Social Class and Fashion

In today's globalized world, social classes are constantly evolving, shaped by economic and social factors. One emerging class, known as the precariat, has been defined by British economist Guy Standing as a group characterized by high job turnover and reduced labor rights. This concept refers to a distinct combination of social and economic relations that differentiate it from the proletariat, which is defined by its relationship to production, distribution, and the state.

The precariat is made up of individuals who are forced to accept a life of unstable employment, lacking occupational identity, and often engaging in work that is not recognized as such. This class is internally divided into three main groups: the Atavists, the Nostalgics, and the Progressives.

The Atavists are individuals who feel excluded from the old working class communities and long for a lost past in which they or their predecessors enjoyed various labor rights. They tend to support neofascist populists like Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen. On the other hand, the Nostalgics consist of immigrants and minority ethnic groups who feel disconnected from mainstream society, longing for a sense of belonging. Lastly, the Progressives are the educated segment of the precariat who were promised a bright future upon entering universities, only to realize that it was a gamble. They seek a renaissance of the Enlightenment, a renewed sense of hope for the future.

One common characteristic among the precariat is the lack of rights and security. They are often subjected to low and unpredictable wages, mounting debts, and the constant fear of sudden income loss. Moreover, they are gradually losing all forms of rights, including civil, cultural, social, economic, and political rights. The absence of political representation is particularly notable, as the precariat feels unrepresented by political parties and leaders.

The rise of the precariat can be attributed, in part, to the technological revolution, which has brought about radical changes globally. The advancement of technology has facilitated the fragmentation of employment structures and increased job turnover. This phenomenon, often referred to as "uberization," allows corporations to easily reshape their divisions of labor, creating a workforce characterized by instability and insecurity.

To address the challenges faced by the precariat, it is essential to recognize that the principal enemy is not only the government but also other institutions that shape social policies. The state, in particular, plays a significant role in enforcing certain behaviors and blocking specific activities through social policies. The precariat's struggle for rights and security requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond traditional political representation.

One possible solution that has gained traction is the implementation of a universal basic income. Providing a basic income for everyone throughout their lives would give those who are tired or demanding jobs the opportunity to have flexibility on their own terms or take a well-deserved break. The justification for a universal basic income lies in ethical and philosophical reasons, such as social justice, improvement of republican justice, and the necessity for basic security that we all need.

In conclusion, the precariat represents a new class defined by its precarious employment conditions and lack of rights. Its diverse groups, including the Atavists, Nostalgics, and Progressives, face common challenges in terms of job insecurity and the erosion of rights. The technological revolution has contributed to the rise of the precariat, facilitating the fragmentation of employment structures. To address these challenges, it is crucial to recognize that the state, along with other institutions, plays a significant role in shaping social policies. Implementing a universal basic income could provide a safety net for the precariat, allowing individuals to have greater flexibility and security in their lives.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Advocate for political representation: The precariat needs to actively engage in the political process to ensure that their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed. This can be done through supporting or organizing grassroots movements and participating in local and national elections.
  • 2. Support initiatives for labor rights: Join or support organizations that fight for labor rights and fair working conditions. These organizations can provide resources and support for those in the precariat, advocating for better wages, job security, and access to benefits.
  • 3. Promote education and skill development: The precariat can enhance their employability and bargaining power by investing in education and skill development. Pursuing higher education, vocational training, or acquiring new skills can open up opportunities for more stable and fulfilling employment.

By recognizing the common challenges faced by the precariat and taking action to address them, we can work towards a more equitable and inclusive society. Through political engagement, support for labor rights, and investment in education, we can empower individuals in the precariat to build a more secure future for themselves and future generations.

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