Polity Press, 1999
A thought provoking and challenging text. The text is translated from the original French.
A bleak picture is painted of contemporary western society. A civilisation based on wage labour is collapsing. The poor are no longer “a reserve army of the unemployed”; they have become, from the point of view of the corporations, permanently superfluous. Work remains the elusive bait of the economic elite, who claim that if enough sacrifices are made for the health of the market economy, then investment and growth will eventually restore employment and prosperity to all.
Forrester’s intention is not to analyse the global economy but to condemn the way the victims are treated.
She describes and analyses the “humiliating regimes imposed on welfare claimants”. E.g. the reforms of the educational system aimed at promoting employability in flexible labour markets. Also, Forrester gives an analysis of the continuing efforts to lower wages and limit structures of social protection. She asserts that “those who lose their paid work also lose the capacity to challenge their circumstances.”
In the case of the UK, it must certainly be wrong to increase constraints on people who are already deprived of real choice in so many aspects of their lives. Work has normally been the basis of self-respect and participation in society, but this is true only of stable jobs at decent wage rates. We need to challenge the winners in the free market. In essence any solution requires a massive redistribution of resources.
It is probably correct that “citizen’s income schemes offer the best model of welfare state reform. This is not because they are adequate in themselves but because they might allow us to weaken, and eventually dismantle, the repressive system of controls and prohibitions to which claimants are subjected”. She also believes that “We should look first for a mode of distribution and survival that would not depend on wages.”
The Economic Horror, by Viviane Forrester
Polity Press, 1999