As we contemplate the slow, painful, but hopefully forward progress from the merely voluntary to the snarkily-defended “euvoluntary,” to the thickly voluntary, to the actually palatable, let’s re-visit a concept introduced by the labor movement: the scab. The scab is someone who crosses a picket line. By doing so, they make things worse for everyone by lowering the standards to which an employer can realistically be held. Yet another example of how the “any job is better than no job” “ethic” is at best an inducement for good people to do bad things.
The word “scab” comes to my mind in reference to a vast array of human actions in addition to people crossing picket lines. Sometimes I’m so expansive in my definition of scab that it means “doing something I wouldn’t do,” or even “doing something I wouldn’t be proud of doing.”
As an agitator for radical social change, my biggest frustration in life is a basically passive attitude toward private and public institutions on the part of a sizable share (normally a majority) of the population.
The gravity of these random acts of scabbiness ranges from petty annoyances like people who gripe about each Facebook policy change but don’t leave Facebook, to the mere existence of people literally working for pennies via Mechanical Turk. Just creating proof of concept for a race to a point that close to the bottom seems to me to cross the line from scabbiness into outright class treason.
Lest I be too judgmental…
Like probably everyone, I am guilty of many instances of shameful, scabby conduct. Since my own life expectations have largely been a case study in moving the goalposts, my excuses are likewise pathetic. Instead of the Yuppie Nuremberg Defense (“I’ve got a mortgage”) I’ve been whittled down to the Precariat Nuremberg Defense (“I need the experience”).
Funny how experience gets treated as a scarce commodity regardless of whether you’re buying or selling.
Solidarity, folks. Solidarity.