Génération-Précaire / precarious generation

With no relevant or encouraging diagnosis forthcoming, society was left in the dark about its symptoms and in danger of succumbing to further crises.

This quote refers to Ignacio Ramonet analysis – according to the recent events in France – how profoundly the situation around the french intellectual has changed published in the recent issue of Le Monde Diplomatique. His layout of the ‘classical’ role of the intellectual thinker ..

In France an intellectuel is defined as someone who uses a reputation in science, the arts or culture to mobilise public opinion in support of causes that he or she regards as just. In modern states, it has been the role of the intellectual for two centuries to make sense of social trends, illuminating the path towards greater liberty and less alienation.

Pierre Bourdieu (3) proposes a new and radical thinktank: “Many historians have highlighted the role played by thinktanks in the production and imposition of the neoliberal ideology that now rules the world. To counter the work of these expert groups, appointed by our rulers, we need the help of critical networks . . . They should form autonomous intellectual collectives, capable of defining their own objectives and the limits to their agenda and action.

His interesting comment is followed by an essay of Mona Chollet describing the situation of France’s Precarious Graduates (also on znet) and their unconnected and highly precarious situations.

From the anonymous white masks worn by demonstrating interns (6) to the popularity of pseudonyms and anonymous memoirs, there is a subculture of people at the mercy of “what the hierarchy might say”, destined to eke out a semi-clandestine existence and carry on an ideological guerrilla war. “In a normal, healthy situation the younger generation would be in conflict with their elders,” note Anne and Marine Rambach. “But that’s not what is happening. A temporary researcher will agree with his head of laboratory since his bread and butter depends on it.” Contract researchers in social sciences working for the European commission are contributing to the justification of insecure labour policies.

The status of intellectual may be enough to elicit suspicion without any political affiliation. Yves Pagès describes his interns as being “passionate about their work, they set up micropublishing outfits and magazines, but the publishers don’t trust them. The key posts are all held by personalities from the 1968 generation who got there at the end of a chequered but fulfilling career. What they tell them is, yeah, we know, we’ve been there, but that’s over. When they hire young people they only take graduates from the grandes écoles, people who’ve been schooled in economic pragmatism. Libération is a case in point. So you get salespeople dressed up as publishers who can’t stand their brainy interns because they are reminded of their own ignorance.”

These both texts form an interesting contradiction – which is none, but the two views onto the same situation -, displaying better than any pamphlet the more than obvious conclusion of a gap of silence – desperatly missing to be filled in – according to the title ‘silent thought’ of Ramonet’s comment.

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