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From John Lennon’s Working Class Hero

To: “letters@observer.co.uk”
Sent: Tuesday, 3 December 2013, 11:56
Subject: Fucking peasants?

How much can Amazon’s weary pickers afford to improve their pay and conditions before their bosses find it cheaper and easier to automate the process lock, stock and barrel? (Remember grab on the arcade slot machine, programmed NOT to pick up trinkets on the tray?)

It’s not only Amazon, nor we can still imagine that growth is for good or recession a thing of the past. How long before a deeply disenchanted generation rebels or turns its back on receding prospects of casual employment and joblessness, no certainty but mounting debt?

An unusually wide response to recent outbursts from Russell Brand and Boris Johnson – sense and nonsense? – may be a straw in the wind. So may the increasing circulation of the Observer and Guardian and reports that young people are drinking less.

Can we conceive of a British or off-shore European Spring? Could we see a resurgence of youth at the ballot box in 2015? Or will it be something completely different, as people turn to themselves, each other and what comes to hand?

No more working class heroes (never mind ‘fucking peasants’) but streetwise diggers and dreamers, in practice and on line. What happens if many more people begin taking over empty buildings, digging gardens instead of decking them, growing, making and mending things instead of buying new? Whether by choice or necessity, we might find ourselves enjoying it.

How would that show up in GDP? Might we then rediscover for ourselves a virtue in austerity, not Osborne’s vain grope for growth at the end of an inverted rainbow, but an upward learning curve – reclaiming the time and direction of our lives?

Greg Wilkinson

Carole Cadwalladr on working at Amazon

Brand vs Paxman on BBC Newsnight

Boris Johnson’s Thatcher ‘Cornflakes’ Lecture text


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