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Dockworkers Worldwide Are Trying to Stop Russia’s War

3 141 21
05.05.2022

While the chattering classes tweet and write in support of Ukraine, a less visible corps of helpers is taking action: dockworkers. At ports in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and elsewhere, dockers have simply refused to handle cargo from Russian ships. And without dockworkers, the cargo is going nowhere.

It’s a reminder of how manual labor underpins just about everything we consume, even in supposedly sophisticated economies—and of how powerful some of that labor can be, in ways many people have forgotten. Today, virtually nobody in the West grows up being encouraged by parents, teachers, or society to become a dockworker, a train driver, or a utility repairman (or repairwoman).

On the contrary, policymakers and society belittle manual labor professions, a sorry trend painstakingly documented in the United States by Harvard philosopher Michael Mandel in The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good? Last month, Tony Blair, who as the United Kingdom’s prime minister set a target of sending 50 percent of all youngsters to universities, upped the ante, suggesting that 60 to 70 percent of young people ought to enroll in higher education.

While the chattering classes tweet and write in support of Ukraine, a less visible corps of helpers is taking action: dockworkers. At ports in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and elsewhere, dockers have simply refused to handle cargo from Russian ships. And without dockworkers, the cargo is going nowhere.

It’s a reminder of how manual labor underpins just about everything we consume, even in supposedly sophisticated economies—and of how powerful some of that labor can be, in ways many people have forgotten. Today, virtually nobody in the West grows up being encouraged by parents, teachers, or society to become a dockworker, a train driver, or a utility repairman (or repairwoman).

On the contrary, policymakers and society belittle manual labor professions, a sorry trend painstakingly documented in the United States by Harvard philosopher Michael Mandel in The Tyranny of Merit: Can We Find the Common Good? Last month, Tony Blair, who as the United Kingdom’s prime minister set a target of sending 50 percent of all youngsters to universities, upped the ante, suggesting that 60 to 70 percent of young people ought to enroll in higher education.

But manual labor keeps the........

© Foreign Policy


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