Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Jobseeker's Agreement

"Within the system of debt, the individualization of Welfare State policies is no longer solely disci­plinary, since it entails a detailed analysis of the ability to "repay," which is repeatedly assessed on an individual basis. It always implies a "moral" evaluation of the individual's actions and modes of life. Repayment will be made not in money but through the debtor's constant efforts to maximize his employability, to take a proactive role in his integration into the work or social environment, to be available and flexible on the job market. Debt repayment is part of a standardization of behavior that requires conformity to the life norms dictated by the institution. This "subjec­tive" relation between the public sector worker and the public assistance recipient, rather than moving beyond fetishism by reestablishing the "relation of man to man" spoken of by Marx, reveals itself instead as the source and height of the cynicism and hypocrisy of our "financialized" society. Continuous cynicism and hypocrisy not only in relations between bankers and customers, but also in relations between the State and the users of social services. In the same way as credit turns trust into distrust, the Welfare State suspects all users, and especially the poorest, of being cheats, of living at society's expense by taking advantage of public assistance instead of working. Under the conditions of ubiquitous distrust created by neoliberal policies, hypocrisy and cynicism now form the content of social relations."

Maurizio Lazzarato, The Making of Indebted Man