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"We Refuse to be Buried by Globalization"

"The theory of the end of work is nonsense. It is part of an ideology. We are not in a crisis but in a process of change in which the whole labor force of a society is no longer needed.. Our problem is not that work ends but that we stubbornly cling to an old concept of work."

Excerpts from an Interview of the Basel, Switzerland newspaper with Viviane Forrester

[This 1/19/2005 interview is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.zeit.de.]

[The French globalization critic Viviane Forrester (79) presented an important book with her worldwide hit "The Terror of the Economy". Her manifesto against the policy of neoliberalism has sold a million copies. The follow-up work "The Dictatorship of Profit" is very worth-reading. In the interview, Forrester, a novelist and literary critic, defends her concepts labor and human dignity and directs attacks against the evil spirit of the times. That employers "extort" their workers to work more for less money, she says, is "the height of cynicism".]

Basler Zeitung: Ms. Forrester, the end of work is heard everywhere. What does our future look like if we bid farewell to the past ideal of full time- and full employment?

Viviane Forrester: The theory of the end of work is nonsense. It is part of an ideology. We are not in a crisis but in a process of change in which the whole labor force of a society is no longer needed. This is different than in the industrial age. Nevertheless we need workers in many areas, in the education system and public health system for example. Our problem is not that work ends but that we stubbornly cling to an old concept of work. [... ]

There is a clear tendency to independence. Many persons prefer to earn less money and work in a more self-determined way.

This is easy to understand. They have lost faith and trust in their businesses and even in their pensions and try to make themselves independent. When one understands that one's job can be lost from one day to the next, when one knows that this can strike anyone, one tries instinctively to free oneself from this delicate situation if one has the possibility. But the mood of a relatively privileged class does not really interest me. The situation of those who despair in unchangeable unemployment occupies me. The dignity of a person does not depend on whether he or she has gainful employment or not. The dignity of persons is inviolable whether money is earned or not. Persuading them of the opposite is a very deliberate ideological act. In this way, the masses are manipulated, feel shame and resign instead of resisting the social dislocations. [... ]

Even the established politics, governments, parliaments and parties, seem helpless in view of this development...

This is absolutely wrong because this development is the product of a very deliberate policy that must be analyzed, understood and opposed. When one humiliates the unemployed, one robs them of all possibilities of resistance and also those who fear unemployment. When I traveled around the world with my book "The Terror of the Economy", I discovered there are millions of people worldwide who do not approve this development and only wait for someone to express their discontent.

There are groups worldwide like Attac and many "grassroots movements" that articulate their dissatisfaction and consider alternatives...

Attac is fine and good. I was even one of its co-founders. But Attac loses itself in discussions and does not attack the little concrete problems. Attac does not act preventively but stands by and watches as for example in France how social security and pension policy are sacrificed to liberalism.

What are Attac's mistakes?

Don't misunderstand me; Attac is important. However political resistance may not be exhausted in organizing political picnics in which people whisper their opinions to each other. I assure you that no one among the ultra- and neoliberals feels in any way disturbed by the anti-globalizers. They calmly continue. It would be much better to simply forget terms like globalization and anti-globalization and call a spade a spade. For example, people are regularly extorted under the threat that the firm may move abroad. In all seriousness, they are asked to work more for less money. That is the height of cynicism. [... ]

What can a politician do against the threat of business relocation?

We live in a strange dictatorship. I say "strange" because I know how a real dictatorship appears. Politicians are defenders of neoliberal policy in that they all internalize whether socialist or conservative. When told they must do this or that, they immediately surrender. Nothing happens any more since the economy would otherwise capsize. That is the bankruptcy of politics. When governments of every shade and color or unions submit to this thinking, that is a form of dictatorship. However there is no fate or fatality in history and politics. Still we presume a natural law behind these developments. We let ourselves be buried by globalization as under a heavy gravestone.

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