In class today we spoke of various social movements and protests that have made headlines within the last few years. We saw young adults protesting rising education fees in the UK, as well as the mass scale protests in Italy following the Irish bailout. Neither of these groups were afraid to use force; we saw groups vandalizing property and physical fighting across lines. The actors in these movements are responding to the European Union’s steps towards enforcing a more austere budget. Austerity as a political concept revolves around a strict budget. So what’s the problem? Isn’t everyone happy to save some money?
Obviously not. The flow of money within the European Union has resulted in bailouts for some European countries and yet tightened budgets for others. The question of which sectors deserve the smallest cuts is a highly contested one in the EU at this time. It also applies around the world. Who is really feeling the effects of these global money transfers? Who’s suffering?
“We are seeing serious disparities between the rich and the poor globally” is an absolutely true macrolevel statement. It reflects a theme popping up frequently in our class. We’ve read case studies and articles on this idea when we discussed economic globalization.Ehrenrich and Hochschild examine this theme on a more micro scale by looking at countries and cases (i.e. a woman from Sri Lanka) instead of operationalizing globally.
One thing that I am taking away from the Ehrenreich and Hochschild piece “Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy” is that most of the suffering in the world is endured by hidden populations. There are millions of women like Josephine who have had to migrate to find work due to economic displacement. Female migrants have moved to more developed capitalist and capitalist-like nations to find work. Where did they gain employ? The title of the piece is self-explanatory. Ehrenreich and Hochschild describe in their article the “private ‘indoor’ nature of so much of the new migrant’s work” (532). The greater millions who are benefiting from this cheap migrant labor, why would they want to let go?
Cornel West spoke on the importance of recognizing and listening to suffering peoples in his address to a leftist forum. He urged his audience to show courage in standing up against inequality and injustice. He lectured on solidarity and being a catalyst. I really admire his message, and believe it is truth. We can’t all make a BIG difference in the world, and realistically not all us will. But if we can do little things everyday to contribute positively (or at least be a positive force in our own lives or the lives of others), then the effects are bound to be felt somewhere.