Friday, 17 June 2011

The worst part of Italy - a post PC story

This is a post PC story. It's not a post Personal Computer story, it's not a post Italian Communist Party story (though it may well be), it is a post Political Correctness story. Post implicates an ante, which is probably a misleading concept in the Italian context, but in the global world please allow the idea that we can be post PC, without having ever been there.

On June 14th the web on this shore of the big world was invaded by a viral video where the Minister for Public Administration and Innovation Renato Brunetta calls precarious workers "the worst part of Italy". Within minutes a Facebook page requesting the resignation of the Minister was created and within an afternoon it collected more than 10 thousand subscriptions (the number this minute is 37,508 and growing). Brunetta readily replied from his webcam claiming he was attacked by a bunch of drag-precari that were in fact brigadists exploiting the dramatic situation of so many young Italians, in order to push through their own agenda. These people who savaged and insulted him, he said, "are not the victims of precariat(1), they are the victims of their own failures".

Apparently in Italy there are about 4 million losers, victim of their own failures.
They used to call them "flexible", flexible is good isn't it: it bends it doesn't break, it folds you can carry it everywhere, it's soft it doesn't hurt.
It doesn't hurt, but they get hurt, another name for them is "casualised workers", doesn't it recall "casualty" =  someone or something that is damaged or suffers as a result of something else. Then you have "intermittent workers", as if you could live intermittently, intermittently pay rent, intermittently eat. "Temporary workers", hey don't look at me everything is ephimerous, just go and "hold eternity in an hour".
Then the word "precarious" arrived. Unsteady, unbalanced, unstable, DANGEROUS. The people at the top planned it to be dangerous for us, and indeed it is, but it turned out it is dangerous for them too. Precariat will become the new proletariat. Then it is a post Communist Party story!

So the new communicative strategy is making the "precarious worker" disappear. A conservative politician won't be caught dead saying the words. "Precarious worker" is a political label not a socio-economic category. Let's just refer to "project worker" (it makes it nearly sound as if they have a plan), "freelance workers" (it makes it sound as if it was their choice), or "self-employed" (that is empowering!). But those "precarious workers", those bogus precarious workers I mean, they are just the worse part of Italy.

Recently ISTAT (the National Institute of Statistics) revealed that there are 2 million young Italians who don't do anything. They don't count as unemployed, because they are not even looking for a job, they don't study, they live with their parents, relying on the family as lifejacket. They are called the idle "lost generation", though the Italian term used to describe them is much more revealing. They are "rassegnati", they are hopeless. About 1/5 of Italian youth, between 18 and 34,  is hopeless; after that we become plain useless.
HOPELESS is an interesting lexical choice. It suggests that it's our responsibility having lost hope, rather than conveying the idea that somebody stripped us of our future.

According to senator Giorgio Clelio Starcquadanio (PDL),  Berlusconi's party lost the regional elections and the referendum, because on the other side there is an army of 4 million slackers "who have fuckin' nothing to do and spend all day fiddling on the web" and making a hell of a rack.

Hopeless, losers, failures,  the worse part of Italy, slackers, squadrists, web-jerkers... I told you it was a post politically correct story.

The FB page requesting Brunetta's resignation has in the meantime reached: 37,749 attending.
The tenor of the comments is admittedly quite offensive and unimaginative. They pick on him for his "stature", now that is a low blow! On the other hand if they had hit higher they'd have probably missed the target.

It's post PC baby, or just call us: differently stable.

(1) It is necessary here to stress that the words “precarious-precarity-precariat” are a linguistic innovation, which in the last year has spread from Italy and Spain to all the European networks engaged in a reflection on casualisation. Superseding the better known terms “flexibility-flexworker”, the introduction of “precarious-precarity-precariat” marks the emergence of struggles that are constituent of a new terminology and new imaginary from which, in turn, new rights come to light. (Marcello Tarì and Ilaria Vanni, On the Life and Deeds of San Precario, Patron Saint of Precarious Workers and Lives)

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