The Information Proletariat and Globalization – Hookes

The Information Proletariat and Globalization – Hookes

Submitted for the International Conference:

The Working Class: What is it and where is it?

At the Economics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, 11-12 July 2006

Introduction: The fetishisation of manual labour

It is generally recognised that the character of work has changed considerably during
the 20th Century. The classical Marxist proletariat, manual factory workers, from
being the overwhelming majority, say, 70-80 % of the workforce, are now between
10-20% in advanced capitalist countries. Those members of the workforce who
provide services, especially information processing and delivery services, are now the
majority.1 A sub-group of the ‘information proletariat’ are sometimes called
‘knowledge workers’, that is,  those who jobs require high level of knowledge input
obtained from advanced schooling. They are now about one third of the workforce in
the US, more than twice as numerous as the manual factory proletariat. They are
expected to become at least 40% of the working population, say by, 2010. [1] This
latter group can be considered to be the new core proletariat of a knowledge-based
society. It contains many highly privileged groups such as university teachers and
researchers, and so on, whose level of alienation is, let us say, tolerable, as well as
less privileged technical knowledge workers.  The information proletariat as a whole
includes many highly exploited workers such as those in call-centres and data-input

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Alternative Int’l Labour Communication – Waterman

Advanced discussion draft

of paper to be submitted to interface

Alternative International Labour Communication by Computer After Two Decades1

Peter Waterman

Will offline social movement organisations be willing to cede control as ordinary people increasingly leverage social networking tools to channel their own activities? The destruction of hierarchies online means that top-down organisations will face increasing pressure from members to permit more rank-and-file debate and input. This is a healthy process and a long time in coming. If traditional organisations are to embrace the dynamism of the social networking sphere and move beyond simply posting op-eds on Huffington Post [a US website – PW] written by union presidents or NGO executive directors, they will have to cede significant control. Organisations that resist this trend will become increasingly irrelevant, online and offline. (Brecher, Costello2 and Smith, 2009)

Rather than having more representatives or improving representation, rather even than having a form of direct democracy where ‘the people’ get to vote for many more purposes than merely electing leaders, the alterglobalisation movement suggests a form of democracy Continue reading

Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access

Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge 2.0.1

Citizens’ and artists’ Rights in the Digital Age

Immediate and urgent solutions

(Download Complete Version Charter 2.0.1)

A broad coalition from over 20 countries made of citizens, users, consumers, organizations, artists, hackers, members of the free culture movement, economists, lawyers, teachers, students, researchers, scientists, activists, workers, unemployed people, entrepreneurs, creators…, Continue reading

From 16 Propositions to 6 Proposals – Waterman

From Sixteen Propositions on Inter/national/ist Labour Net/working to Six Policy-Relevant Proposals

Peter Waterman



The point here is to confront the international mouvement social of the epoch of national/ industrial/colonial capitalism with the ‘relational principle’ proper to the epoch of a globalized, informatised, finance and services capitalism. The labour movement has long taken organizational/institutional form, with the consequent loss of most movement characteristics, these notably including its early internationalism. The newest international mouvement social, the ‘anti-globalisation’, ‘anti-corporate’ or ‘anti-capitalist’ movement has (like the radical-democratic women’s, ecological and related movements) been marked by the network form. The propositions are clearly intended to challenge the traditional union form, and to suggest that the relational principle of networking is the one appropriate to social movements today, particularly in so far as they are concerned with an international/ist challenge and alternative to capitalist globalisation. In so far, however, as it is here suggested that labour has to learn from the newest social movements (and critical/emancipatory theories), the paper also inevitably addresses other international/ist movements as well. In order to stimulate reflection and challenge, this paper takes unconventional form. It has its introduction and argument in endnotes, the main text consisting of the 16 propositions and supporting or challenging quotations, drawn from as many different sources and world areas as possible. Continue reading

Social Movements 2.0 – Brecher, Costello and Smith

Social Movements 2.0

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On September 27, 2007, the world experienced its first virtual strike. In response to a wage dispute, IBM workers in Italy organized a picket outside their company’s “corporate campus” based in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life. According to a report in the Guardian, workers “marched and waved banners, gate-crashed a [virtual] staff meeting and forced the company to close its [virtual] business center to visitors…. The protest, by more than 9,000 workers and 1,850 supporting ‘avatars’ from thirty countries,” included a rowdy collection of pink triangles, “sentient” bananas and other bizarro avatars. Continue reading

Reinventing, Reimagining, Rebuilding – Labour Internationalism

ReinventingLabour is for people who organize, struggle, analyze, critique and strategize within and around the international labour movement. It is for people who seek a space to share ideas and resources regarding challenges and potentials to strengthen a vibrant, critical, plural and emancipatory movement of all kinds of working people everywhere – a movement intimately related to the new ‘global justice and solidarity movement’ (aka the anti- or alter-globalisation movement). Continue reading