On Work and Freedom of the Self

I'm off to town soon to visit an employment agency, see if this penniless poetaster can't pick up some temporary work from somewhere. I thought I had it, as Christmas approached, when the Royal Mail gave undertakings to me that they subsequently reneged on. But hey. Someone suggested that my activities online might have sabotaged me at the last minute. It's more than possible. Most employers do internet checks on candidates these days; and blacklisting of people with left wing sympathies is a common problem. I'd heard of it as something more associated with the building trade; but the Royal Mail is one of the last bulwarks of really strong trade unionism, and in the brave new world of privatisation that's something they will be trying to move away from. I know this for a fact. The level of anti-union sentiment I found in conversations with managers there was staggering.

Their business, of course. Literally and metaphorically. And as soon as I detected their massive disdain for their employees' union (and their unionised employees) I should have shut up, but I didn't. I never thought to curtail my online tubthumping either. But doesn't a person have a right to be who he feels himself to be inside? Am I no longer free to speak my mind? I am familiar with the argument that the internet is a public space; I accept that. But all I do when I write is offer ideas and observations about the way things are going. So I see the world differently from those who run its businesses and make its politics . . . does that mean I make myself unacceptable as a particpant, when I am playing the game on their terms and have no chance whatsoever of changing the rules? Why are employers so afraid of healthy debate in the canteen at breaktime? Must it all be Daily Mails on the table, sweets and cake on a Friday and deference to the master when he walks through the room? What sort of a world do these people want to create?

Yes, I can hear you say. A wonderful attitude to be taking to an employment agency this morning. But these are serious questions about the health of our democracy, for whatever that word is worth nowadays.

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