05 Dec 2012
What if not as many jobs were needed?
I just saw the video of a talk by Claudia Kodja at TEDxMauá. Part of the idea that unemployment among people under 24 years old (the global average is 20%, 18% in the US) is not a passing product of the crisis, but the result of a long-standing tendency that reflects fundamental transformations in the productive system.
The perspective for more and more youth, she tells us, is that spending time working at a business should be purely “opportunist” and temporary, just another phase in the training process, which would culminate in incorporation into the market as autonomous sellers of their capacities. Only a few of them would be really innovative, and would form businesses that include others, and if they are successful, would obtain rents. But everyone would make a living off that, except that the hegemony of the business-to-salaried-employee relationship would change to one of business-to-autonomous-worker.
There’s a dimension of her speech that dovetails with the framework given by the reduction of the optimal scales of production: let’s extrapolate her perspective, and add in what an ever-growing commons would provide. Those youth, those people, would no longer be simple “talent sellers” for organizations.
They could propose projects, just as hundreds, or thousands of free software small businesses and cooperatives do today, forming alliances in the market to offer services or produce things. That is, what’s normally called the labor market would dissolve in a network of people and small organizations doing projects starting in the knowledge commons (which, as a consequence, would be developed even further).
Turn your thinking on youth unemployment around. Maybe a lot of those kids who come out of university or professional training don’t need a job, or a labor contract. They need to start to think, from the perspective of the commons, about building their own project. And, of course, above all, they need to know they are capable of doing it and moving forward. They must conquer their fears, and gain their sovereignty. Just what the State doesn’t educate them to do.