Slavoj Žižek: The Courage of Hopelessness: Chronicles of a Year of Acting Dangerously

16 October 2019

Another blatant case of regress as part of the capitalist progress is the enormous rise of precarious work. Precarious work deprives workers of a whole series of rights that, till recently, were taken as self-evident in any country which perceived itself as a welfare state: precarious workers have to take care themselves of their health insurance and retirement options; there is no paid leave; the future becomes much more uncertain. Precarious work also generates an antagonism within the working class, between permanently employed and precarious workers (trade unions tend to privilege permanent workers; it is very difficult for precarious workers even to organize themselves into a union or to establish other forms of collective self-organization). One would have expected that this increasing exploitation would also strengthen workers’ resistance, but it renders resistance even more difficult, and the main reason for this is ideological: precarious work is presented (and up to a point even effectively experienced) as a new form of freedom – I am no longer just a cog in a complex enterprise but an entrepreneur-of-the-self, I am a boss of myself who freely manages my employment, free to choose new options, to explore different aspects of my creative potential, to choose my priorities.

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