November/December 2010 cover

The neoliberal workforce

Neoliberalism has reshaped the nature of work. The standard of full-time, life-long employment has been replaced by work that is increasingly temporary, part-time and precarious. Though workers are divided and isolated as never before, sites of grassroots collective action offer ample inspiration to working class people worldwide.

  • Magazine

    Letter from the editor

    This summer marked the 75th anniversary of the Regina Riot, a landmark in the history of Briarpatch’s hometown and an event with political reverberations well beyond the city itself. On June 3, 1935, at the height of the greatest crisis of capitalism in the country’s history, 1,200 striking workers departed relief camps in British Columbia aboard eastbound boxcars to deliver demands for employment and fair wages to the federal government of R.B. Bennett

  • Magazine

    Dignity and solidarity

    The G20 summit held in Toronto this June closed with a commitment to “fiscal consolidation” from the world’s economic leaders. Among the strongest proponents of slashing public spending was Canada’s Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty. For many of those protesting the G20 on the streets of Toronto, the subtext of Flaherty’s austerity agenda was well understood: a continuation of the attack on access to housing, health care, education and welfare, among other social necessities.

  • Magazine

    Reinventing resistence

    Globalization has propelled neoliberalism across borders, not just as an ideology or system of commerce, but as the primary determinant of the daily realities of where people live, what they eat, how they work, and what rights they enjoy.

  • Magazine

    Room and board

    There are three things a farmer can’t live without: a wheelbarrow, a dog and a pry bar.” Maggie called this to me from just outside the barn, where she stood offering me the said pry bar. The dog looked up from where she lay lounging in the shade, and I paused where I crouched, preparing to heave a sizable boulder into the aforementioned wheelbarrow.

  • Magazine

    Discipline and punish

    The dream of a benevolent welfare state may live on in social work theory, conference papers and mission statements, but as far as front-line bureaucracy goes, welfare is dead. Only its image remains, as faint as chalk on a sidewalk. No longer even pretending to be a right or social safety net, social assistance has mutated into a series of manipulative tactics to prod and intimidate its clients into jobs that no one wants. In other words, welfare has become workfare.

  • Magazine

    Agriculture under apartheid

    As the boycott of Israeli goods continues to gain momentum in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and worldwide, Palestinian farmers are extricating themselves from the Israeli economy and building self-reliance through community-supported agriculture.

  • Magazine

    Reorganizing the workplace

    In a society where we must work to live, work is at the very core of our existence. Without work, we are deemed meaningless — non-citizens, outcasts. In the face of such dogmatic, almost religious, devotion, putting forward an alternative perspective on how to organize production and exchange seems almost heretical. It is no small task, but it is a necessary one

  • Magazine

    Pubs, pulpits and prairie fires

    Between 1929 and 1935, the Great Depression triggered Canada’s descent into what remains the worst economic downturn in the country’s history. By 1935, the number of jobless had topped one million. On June 3, 1935, over 1,200 unemployed and single men from British Columbia relief camps left Vancouver to “ride the rail” to Ottawa and deliver demands for work and wages to the Conservative government of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett.

  • Magazine

    Reluctant renegade

    Four years ago I left my job and, overnight, became a “stay-at-home mom.” If I ever say these words out loud, my toes curl under. A stay-at-home mom is something I never expected, or aspired, to be. I had grown up thinking that my mother’s generation had blasted a hole through the glass ceiling, and I always thought I would waltz along the path they had cleared to the highest levels of my chosen field.