The age of automation: work less, paid more

I work to make the rich richer. Improve the technology companies use, saving them resources and ultimately costs. Old ways of working are replaced by software or more efficient robots. Ultimately this leads to loss of jobs.

With the rise of strike action happening over Christmas directly caused by this it got me wondering about the sustainability of manual work forces.

Even with my lovely starter salary I am consistently in my overdraft. With the cost of living in London is rising still and work available reducing, I wonder how the capitalistic state we live in can continue. We continue to blame immigrants for loss of our jobs. But is it computers that we forget to worry about?

We invest billions to save trillions. Do we not want to be more efficient and advanced? Of course the answer is yes. Technological advances are inevitable. The problem is those at the top are taking savings made as profit, and making those at the bottom redundant. This is only sustainable for so long before you have a nation of people with no jobs. Now do the managers care – probably not. But we shouldn’t let that stop us.

What could the solution be? Here are a few of my own musings on a Monday morning over Christmas break. No theoretical and economic backing has gone into this except my own experiences working in the industry. I would be very much be interested in book recommendations or thoughts in the comments.

Less work, more pay.

With a global world, a world where the sun never sets and boundaries are just lines on a map, why are we still sticking to the 5 day a week schedule? Why not have a timeless workforce? One where each person works less overall – say 35 hours per week. The money saved from the cumulative longer hours and more efficient work done can be poured back in to pay everyone a decent salary.

And then we will all have more time. Time to help out in our communities, grow our own food, stay fit, spend time with our families. More rest to reduce the stress induced mental health and physical health issues draining our NHS. Reduced crimes due to rise in employment. A reduction in the divide between the poor and rich.

We will take back control of our economy so that it works for us rather than we work for it.

A utopia worth fighting for.

Workers of all lands, unite!

Advertisements

The problem with the left

And I say that somewhat ironically. There is not a problem with the left but a problem with humanity. A problem, which with further thought, you discover is not so much a problem but a reality. The left – like any group – is not homogeneous. What binds us is wanting a “fairer world”.  Yet we come with varying spectrum of politics, opinions on priorities, names that we call ourselves (the -ists) ideas on how to organise, beliefs on what the perfect world should be.

So I find the whole question of “the problem with the left” as being problematic in itself.

What inspired me to write this post in the first place are two things:

  1. Owen Jone’s dissertation length piece on Jeremy Corbyn
  2. Some direct actions or social media actions I have noticed recently

So first onto Owen Jones. He made several interesting points and highlight many issues that needs to be dealt with. But he offered no solutions. And this is the thing, he spent a large chunk of his piece reaffirming his expertise and credentials. Then surely he should be offering solutions – if not the likes of him then who?

And onto the direct actions – I am referring to London Black Rev organising a direct action to chuck bugs into Byron as part of the resistance against them. The following sums up my thoughts on it:

While I appreciate the symbolism of the cockroach thing at the ‪#‎boycottbyron‬ protest yesterday, gotta be honest and say I don’t back it.

London Black Revs – which is an individual masquerading as an organisation tbh – acted without consulting those who called the action.

Those who participated in the insect action didn’t think about the affect it’d have on workers; by this I don’t just mean the clean up but how those with precarious immigration status might feel about police being called inside the restaurant itself.

This isn’t the first time London Black Revs has acted irresponsibly. Last week, LBR put out a call-out about UKBA vans in N London. Myself and two friends responded and went to the location to provide support. It became clear that not only was LBR not even there, but was actively sourcing information from racists on Twitter to pass on to us. This was thoughtless in the extreme, and could have put us in very real danger.

I don’t trust someone who tips off journalists about an action and not their fellow activists. I don’t trust someone who acts recklessly in situations where it’s not their neck on the line. I urge you all to think carefully about whether London Black Revs is an individual you trust in a political or a personal capacity. If not, there are other (better!) groups to invest your time and your effort in. Stay safe friends xxx – Ash Sarkar

And this brings me onto the thing that links these two: unity within the left. I have a lot of people saying that people are traitors for speaking out, that they are doing the jobs of the right-wing media.

“Unity” is used as a silencing tool. A shut up and take it. No – when something does not sit right we should speak out. That is the only way we can make sure we remain progressive, and not stuck in a bubble waiting for the next burst (think Conservatives getting in at the last two General Elections, Brexit, and the very likely election of Trump).

My worry however is how to ensure we are united enough so that the efforts we put in mean we are making significant steps forward in the right direction. This is why I never fell for #Lexit – I knew the left are not organised enough to be able to take over the narrative sufficiently to be useful.

And it is disheartening. We are consistently under-resourced, unorganised, dealing with internalised racism, sexism and abuse – I just don’t see a way out. We need leadership – and it will not come from middle-class white straight men.

The solution is accepting this. Look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement – started by three queer Black women. And it grew from Twitter and Facebook. We should be taking lessons from these rather than using them to push forward our own political agendas once again (side-eye to London Black Revs).

The revolution will be led by Black, queer, disabled, Muslim women. And until these groups are respected enough to be given space it will only lead to the downfall of the whole movement.

Being poor: save our council homes

The Torys have put forward a proposal to stop new council tenants from having lifelong tenancies. Instead tenancies will last only two – five years, after which their position will be reconsidered and they may be removed. This is just another  attack on the poor – now being told having a stable home is too much of a privilege that they can’t afford.

Council housing are often the only form of housing working class families can afford – rent being sky high and too unpredictable. And we all know it’s near impossible to actually own a home here.

Imagine your family having to move around every five years – your children having to move schools – affecting the friendships they form, their studies and confidence. Just making friends with the neighbours and then having to move again – would you even bother making friends? Wasting money on decorating when with the current cuts you can barely afford food and clothing – would you even bother redecorating?

Living in a house – not a home. Uncertain of your future. Whole neighbourhoods destroyed. Community spirit forgotten.

I grew up in a council house and still live in a council estate. I remember the upheaval in the early days before we got our permanent home now. We were living out of suitcases, homes were often damp and horrible and I was always the new kid. Having a stable home meant I was able to go to one school – get to know my teachers, make lifelong friends and being able to bring friends round, not worry about where I will be living. I am now a graduate and working – having a stable home played a huge part in this.

Just because we are poor does not mean we don’t deserve a home. Being poor is not a crime and should not be punished. A stable home is simple decency.

This proposal makes no sense for anyone apart from the rich. It puts further strains on councils to do extra processing and means they can never plan ahead.

I urge you all to sign this petition and help save our council homes.

Being glum

It is hard to be anything but glum.

When bombs fall like rain onto the honest whilst tyrants laugh in their chambers. I will never forget that. The sound of them chuckling after they voted to bomb people. People who, like them, have families and children. Who, like them, get terrified and are terrified. And there was nothing we could do about it. They ignored our pleas and cries in the streets. Nothing to stop this tiny island – once a beast but now a fragile shadow –  shoving in trying to demonstrate its relevance. And I know, 2 extra planes isn’t going to add anything. But one life destroyed is one too many. People are not collateral.

More news of shootings. More news of terrorist attacks not named terrorist attacks because the perpetrator was not brown or Muslim. More news of being falsely accused of terrorism – a whole route closed down because a man with a beard was on the bus, students being kicked out of class for being anti-war, a boy threatened by the police for fighting to keep his youth centre open – all suspects whilst the real terrorist live in their mansions.

Winter is here – I leave my room whilst it’s dark and watch the sunrise from the train. I leave work after it’s dark – completely missing sunset. I go into my room, usually after forced niceties,  and go on my phone to catch up with the world. A cycle of darkness. And I am left glum.

Blessings to al-Shâm, blessings to al-Shâm, blessings to al-Shâm! (yâ tûbâ li al-Shâm). Because the wings of the angels of the Merciful are lowered over it. – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

JezWeCan

I have always voted Labour. Even before I could vote – I knew would vote Labour. I am the daughter of immigrants, live in a council estate and have strong social politics – Labour should be the party for me.

Except it hasn’t been. And unlike my parents who will vote Labour no matter what they do, second generation voters are likely to vote differently. I even know some who vote Conservative (*boo hiss*). Point being, they can’t get away with their so centre Left – almost going Right politics.

The introduction of tuition fees. The Iraq war. The War or Terror and PREVENT. All of these things happened under a Labour government.

And now I find myself resenting the party. Me – someone who is politically active and happy to sign up as a member – reluctant because none of them come close to my views.

But today is different. I sit here holding my breath waiting for Jeremy Corbyn to be announced as the new Labour Leader.

The media have had a lot of fun, making him sound ridiculous and the unserious candidate. But what they have actively ignored is the tide change. People are waking up to these MPs who talk the talk to get voted in yet then go and vote in the opposite way or abstain. Who say they stand for anti-austerity but then vote for cuts. Who vote through racist laws. Who clearly care more about their career than the lives of the most vulnerable in this Great Kingdom.

People who never would have gone out to a protest have taken to the streets. People who didn’t even know parties had leader elections are paying out of their own pocket to join the party so they can vote. People who said they’d never come back to Labour are giving them another chance.

And this brings us to Jeremy – the only candidate who can keep the momentum going. Being consistent, voting in the ways he says his beliefs are, right from the beginning of his career.


People say he is the candidate for the rich, those who can afford to be idealistic. I can afford no such luxuries and neither can the bubble of activists I surround myself with.

What we can’t afford is another 8 years of more cuts, more wars, more bullying. What we can’t afford is a party who is meant to be opposing but agrees even when the bills are against their core values. We need hope, we need action and we need change. And Jeremy is the only chance of that.

So I sit here holding my breath.

‘A passenger has been taken ill on the train’

“The xxx line has major delays due to a passenger being taken ill on a train”

And as the tannoy shouts this announcement the entire platform unite in a chorus of sighs. How annoying! Such a nuisance! We shake our heads, our plans destroyed, our days ruined. I too found myself growing impatient.

Someone asks when train would start working. We find out a man has stopped breathing and an ambulance team were trying to resuscitate him. It’s only then did I snap out of it.

Wow.

How did I get so self-absorbed? Perhaps we will be late for work, late to meet our friends, wait a little longer to go shopping. But is that equal to someone being physically ill?

The capitalistic nature of the world engulfs us, and we forget our humanity. And in this small example I realise how easy it is for humans to become animals – described as cockroaches or swarms, for people in need to become enemies out to destroy our own resources, and the innocent become suspects.

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.” – Malcolm X

The terror: #WelfareBill

I am terrified. Those quiet whispers of dissent now clear voices – spoken out loud and turned into policies.

But what words will let you know of my terror? How do I show you I am not the enemy? Wake you up to the twists of the media that make me the villain when it is them – the 1% – who we should be fighting? Unified by terror and hate when it should be love.

And what sense can I speak to break your ignorance. Make you see how they steal your freedom, lie about your safety and share false pride. When they simultaneously, shamelessly boast about British values of democracy when we have hereditary peers in our legislature and an unelected, taxpayer funded head of state; equality when the equalities minister voted against equal marriage.  Continue reading