Happy May First!

Happy workers’ day, by the way! Best wishes to those of us who are desperate to work but can’t because we are unnecessary. Or what do you call it? Non-essential.

If anybody is looking for something to read on the subject, I recommend Zygmunt Bauman’s Wasted Lives. Bauman explains that one the costs of modernity has always been the rendering of large numbers of people superfluous, unnecessary.

Traditionally, modernity dealt with this by expelling the unnecessary masses to the colonies. Places that are only now modernizing are still doing that. But those places that don’t have a physical locality where to put the unnecessary, “non-essential” people are coming up with other inventive ways of getting the “human refuse” out of the way.

It’s a short book, quite easy to read. And very pertinent.

2 thoughts on “Happy May First!”

  1. “Bauman’s Wasted Lives”

    Where does his ‘modernity’ end and neoliberalism begin? Are they mostly the same thing or do they overlap or are they like apples and oranges?

    “expelling the unnecessary masses to the colonies”

    I don’t understand this… I assume it’s partly things like Australia? Wouldn’t it be more accurate in the modern world to say that modernizing countries expel large parts of the population to modernized countries (or countries further along the neoliberal/modern path)? And that the fully modern countries are having to think of what to do with the accumulated human…. resources it has acquired?


    1. He means modernity as “what came after the medieval era.” Early modernity was the time when the first modern empires were built by Spain and Portugal. Eventually, France and Britain joined. They all expelled redundant people to the colonies.

      Today, the countries that are modernizing late are still doing all of this. They are still expelling the redundant people. But the more developed neoliberal societies have no physical place to expel the unnecessary humans. So they expel us into “the space of flows.”


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