Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Even in the most exploitative workplace, it’s difficult to be precise about where the antagonism lies. Are you up against your line manager? The chief executive? The foreign pension fund investing other workers’ savings in the company? Through its strategies of class decomposition, marketisation, the naturalisation of individualism and so on, neo-liberalism forces an intensification of competition: that is, an intensification of the competitive struggle between every worker on the planet. With trade liberalisation, a coffee farmer in Ecuador now competes directly with one in Indonesia, whilst the growth of global financial markets means both are now competing with teachers in Leeds and call centre employees in Bangalore. Thus, capital’s antagonistic nature manifests itself less as a clash between worker and boss than as a bitter struggle between worker and worker, as everyone struggles to meet or beat the market-determined norm (and set a new one).