an Interview About “The Precariat”

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“The primary antagonist of the traditional proletarian was the boss. The primary antagonistic of the precariat is the state. A precariat revolt (hopefully peaceful) will lead to a new distinctive distribution system.”

– Guy Standing, March 2019

In the U. S., Guy Standing, 71-years-old, and a professor at the University of London, has never received the recognition he deserves as a scholar and a writer. In part, that’s because he hasn’t expressed himself in terms of sound bytes. Moreover, in the U.S. he hasn’t effectively publicized himself, his books, and his trenchant ideas about what he calls “the precariat,” which he defines as a new, global social class that he views as the political and economic key to a future that would be beneficial to all humanity. The mass media hasn’t wanted to give Standing and his work their due lest they stir up the populace; some traditional Marxists have also scoffed at his words and concepts.

The term “precariat” is so new and so little used, at least in the U.S., that every time it shows up on my screen, my computer underlines it in red as though to say it’s not a real word and that I’ve misspelled it. I have not done so.

In fact, Standing’s breakthrough book, The Precariat, which was first published in English in 2011, has been translated into 23 languages around the world and has jumpstarted conversations about work, wages, rents and global economic insecurity.  I first heard…

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