This is NUTS!

The Unnecessariat post has been picked up by more websites than I could ever have imagined. So far, I haven’t gotten any really bad comments, or any spam, but I’m going to leave moderation turned on (I had some bad experiences when writing about Ebola) and since I am going to be away from the Internet from Thursday to Sunday, that means some of you might see a long wait before your comment appears. Fear not! I’ll get to it.

16 thoughts on “This is NUTS!

  1. I so loved reading this. I’m over 60 years of age, so I remember well the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s, and how the media handled it (“let the fags die”) and I thought it all horrible. Since I am straight…I carried on in my white middle class bubble as if AIDS was a news item, and would never affect me. Hindsight, right? The gay community you talk about from that era, seemed like a really great community (if a community is to be oppressed, then certainly do it in style and in numbers). So much has changed, yet so little. I don’t think that suicidal addicts would have the energy to rally, form a community, and create a movement. All I can hope for is change and compassion (hopefully without pity). And you’re right, this is NUTS.

    On another note, publish on Medium (I’m biased…have never liked wordpress). And, the word “its” is possessive, and the word “it’s” means it is. Switching those up glares brightly with grammarians. Sorry to be one and forgive me.


  2. Sounds like you might want to read “Player Piano” by Kurt Vonnegut, which addressed all these issues, but somehow missed picking up on the overdose/suicide aspects. Despite this, Vonnegut himself tried to commit suicide, as he also saw a bleak future, even for wealthy authors living in Manhattan with all the luxuries.


  3. Just to nitpick: the concept and the word of precariat is older than 2011, at least in Europe. It was used at least since 2006 by the sociologist Robert Castel. The french wikipedia article mention an italian activist having coined the word even before but without giving reference.


    • toto, among us nitpickers.

      I read the allusion to Guy Standing as a hat tip to him as source of inspiration:
      precarious – precariat; unnessary – unnessariat. Is the suffix productive in adjective noun word-formation? Or does it ultimately rely on proletariat? I may work so neatly since all three words are ultimately derived from Latin.

      How far is it from “precarity” and “precarious work”? And who used or coined that first? And how far would those by from the precariat?

      It no doubt may be helpful to avoid both proletariat and revolution: “Revolution is like Saturn, it devours its own children.” …

      Thankful, that: “This is Nuts” cum Unnessariat got me here, Anne. Great writing. Melancholy with well juxtaposed sarcasm. And I always enjoy being addressed as a reader. Now I wonder where Vietnam Vet got the attention, admittedly.


      • oops, let’s see if html tags work:
        “how far would those by be …”

        Anything else? And now I have to say thank you to the person that sent me here.


  4. Oh, man. I had read that article WaPo and have been aware of the addiction/suicide rate data, and yet seeing it all in one place still depressed me. Plus, your writing is great. Awesome stuff. The writing, not the subject. The subject is gawd awfully depressing.


  5. Greetings and salutations on a powerful piece of writing. I came to it late and so read many of the comments, which themselves are a tale untold. Two items kept re-appearing in those comments: one – basic income, and two – powerlessness. Re the first I just came across this from the international basic income online clearinghouse of news and views

    Re the second topic/theme – powerlessness – I will tell a tale now that is true but I rather not place it geographically as I think that might deflect the power of the tale…. the dismissal of a real project for unfounded biases.

    So here is the tale, again this is NOT fiction. Many of the poorest of us in rural areas live in what euphemistically are called Mobile Home Parks. A misnomer if ever there was one. Not mobile, hardly homes and certainly not parks!
    Most of these are run in an exploitive way given the premise of property rights trumping political rights. However some are run more like co-operative enterprises where these rights are blended in something like a commons.

    The opportunity arose in a largish mobile home park when the owner put the place up for sale for the inhabitants to band together and buy the place together. This was not easy by any means. Expert help was needed, which as you can imagine is not available at your local bank and lots of discussion with the current inhabitants (renters) had to take place. Barriers to actually conversing amongst the renters was somewhat lubricated by the fact that being all poor and having no place else to go they have mostly been long-term tenants and had reasonably good relations with each other.

    But of course that helped them get started to talk, but to create the motivation to actually begin to take some control over their miserable lives, to envision a future, as you can imagine, was not easy. A barrier of sorts had to be overcome… the barrier of powerlessness. BUT in the process of talking, learning and acting on what they discovered about the possibilities of actually making a change they actually transformed their personal psychology. This process of ’empowerment’ has been recorder extensively by community organizers – even though the word has been debased by unscrupulous entrepreneurs of the latest social snake oil remedy.

    So they finally bought the place. That in itself was a triumph. But the next part of the story is even better. It turns out that their co-op expert had a larger vision than simply buying the property. After all any one who is lucky enough to own a home knows that ownership without maintenance is absurd. Well, not absurd for the owner of an income property…. there maintenance is a drain on profits and therefore neglected much to the demise of the physical structure (not to mention the quality of lives of the renters).

    So they owned the land that their trailers sat but now they had to tax themselves more than their previous rents to pay back the mortgage and to have a cash reserve. What to do? Many of these folks where on the dole, others where partially employed and those that had jobs were magnificently exploited. The co-op organizer (I must say here that this person arose from the conditions of those being helped and so had little of the attitude of the college-trained expert… no Harvard trained lawyer plopped down into a community of beggars) saw an opportunity to use the surplus of time that the cooperators possessed. Nearby the trailer court where small farmers. What they had was a scarcity of time. You can guess the rest.

    But not only did the newly minted cooperators help with farm work in exchange for food, they began thinking about institutionalizing their free exchange in the only way that our society allows and create a presence in the marketplace.
    The tale ends there. Will they create a roadside stand to sell surplus crops? Will they begin to organize a cooperative store? Who knows? The point of this tale is that they are now not only in the midst of creating a viable economy amidst the poverty around them, but more importantly they are beginning to transform their lives.

    The lessons here, excuse this afterword of moralisms, are a mixed bag. Of course the marketplace is touted as the only option in our society and one which foundations are eager to support, but with a bit of creative thinking, a different economy could be envisioned, but harder to pull off. So for instance in some places an alternative currency is implemented to make the trade be time-based and not dollar-based and in some places that sort of works, but most often in somewhat affluent places, though not exclusively. Essentially the same thing could happen in a more informal way like the initial trade of time for food here, but on a larger scale where more people in the community participating.

    Sorry this is getting into a super long read, but any project that presumes a radical break with the reality of the marketplace must first succeed in overcoming depressed potential. That’s the rub. One last point. There is a history of self-governing economics during the Depression. Then of course the sense of everyone in the same leaking boat made it possible for cooperative ventures that we can’t imagine today in a society where the “loser mentality” is pervasive. Nonetheless that history of self-governing economics, grassroots economics, should be widely known. I am especially thinking of the developments in California in the mid 30s where a groundswell of unemployed people began to develop a self-help economy. It was these hundreds of projects all over the state that motivated Sinclair Lewis to run for Governor. A campaign that mirrors Sanders today.

    If you want to be inspired, read John Curl’s brief report on this movement of the California unemployed in the 30s –
    Curl has a history if US cooperatives in print at PM Press. An unsolicited endorsement ! đŸ™‚

    Thanks for reading this.


    • I see that the url didn’t pass moderation so to find the essay on the CA self-help groups in the 30s search for “Living In The U.X.A. by By John Curl” the one from John’s red-coral site has photos.


  6. The Unnecessarilat is brilliant. But who are you and where are you. I am a 66 year old man in West Virginia. I have a masters in philosophy and another in divinity. I was a minister for 18 years, but I am not affiliated with any church or religion at this time. I am an adjunct teacher at a local university and teach courses in philosophy and religion. I also despair of the future.


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