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A class struggle for the 21st century

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Commentary. The proletariat is not a remote 19th century anthropological category, conjuring up factory workers with eyes full of soot. Today we are realizing that even many of those who aspired to be part of the bourgeoisie have become proletarianized.

written by Christian Raimo

Topic Gig economy

July 19, 2019

Every so often—almost every day now—in the maelstrom of indignation that public debate has become, people insist on displaying their outrage at the conditions of exploitation in which some worker or another finds themselves. For instance, organizers at a Jovanotti concert asked volunteers to clean the beaches—no pay for a full day’s work except a ticket to the show and a special gadget. Or the secretary of the Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, put up a video-selfie of him waving around a paycheck for just €28 belonging to a worker at Mercatone Uno who had been temporarily laid off.

Every single time, these stories are presented as if they were revealing a dirty secret—but actually, they are sweeping under the rug the giant faultline cutting through Italian politics: class division. It’s not the case that “work” has to return to the center of the public debate, as everyone is insisting, from the government to the opposition—what needs to make a comeback is the notion of class.

We keep talking about the middle class impoverished by the crisis, about Italian teens forced to leave Italy to find work as waiters in the UK, about people who can’t make ends meet until the........

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