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Global transformation: the precariat overcoming populism

Global transformation: the precariat overcoming populism

A contribution to debate urging the mainstream left not to be distracted by populism. Aim instead for what we know about the near Future.

Toulouse delivery men from Uber Eats or Deliveroo protest against precarity. December, 2020. Alain Pitton/PA. All rights reserved.

Those included the days-of-rage phase that culminated in the mass protest in Peterloo in 1819, brutally suppressed by the state, and the Luddites, misrepresented ever since as being workers intent on smashing machines to halt ‘progress’, when in fact what they were doing was protesting at the destruction of a way of living and working being done without a quid pro quo.

In my A Precariat Charter written in 2014, sketching a precariat manifesto for today’s Global Transformation, I concluded by citing the stanza from Shelley’s The Masque of Anarchy, written in reaction to the Peterloo massacre. Jeremy Corbyn was later to cite it in his campaign speech of 2017, which James Schneider recalls in his contribution to this debate. Shelley expressed it in class, not populist terms, as I did, in my case signifying that the precariat was evolving as a class-in-the-making. Corbyn seems to have expressed it in support of a left populism.

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