07 Aug Kicking Back: New work practices on ROAPE
ROAPE believes it is not enough for us to preach a radical anti-neoliberal politics and not practice or attempt to develop an alternative work ethic to neoliberal capitalism in our own work on the journal and website. As a consequence, we inform our readers and supporters that we are introducing a series of annual shutdowns, starting from 7-27 August on journal production, and from 7 August – 2 September on the website and social media.
The extension of the working day was at the core of Karl Marx’s political economy in his 19th century masterwork, Capital. The expansion of the ‘working day’ has been the central objective of the capitalist class as it is within these ‘days’ that profit is secured. As a consequence, the struggle over working hours has been a key battleground for trade unions and workers for the last two hundred years.
Over the last forty years, during what David Harvey has termed the ‘neoliberal counter-revolution’, ROAPE has sought to analyse these processes and trends across Africa. Deepening capitalist penetration in the economies and societies on the continent, and the expansion of a neoliberal ‘new economy’, has been the target of our politics and interventions. The impact of the renewed offensive on the ‘working day’ has been devastating for labouring classes in both the Global South and the Global North.
The academic and research world has followed the pack. Across all areas of work, we now accept as normal that we are available around the clock, to answer emails – on our phones or computers – at all hours, and in all circumstances. New technologies and social media – potentially means for improving the quality of our lives – enable, as Marx wrote in the 1860s, the expansion of our exploitation and labour. All of our lives – in and out of research, as activists, workers and teachers – have been degraded.
Marx envisaged a world liberated from necessity and the drudgery of the incessant extension of human exploitation. His vision needs to be recalled, ‘it is possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.’
As a radical political journal, we believe that we need to train ourselves in, and encourage, a different working culture, in a way that brings out more satisfaction and allows us more time to pursue other interests, and not just keep our heads above water with other responsibilities. We are far from achieving the society that Marx and the founding members of this journal imagined, but still – right now, today – we must strive to resist a work culture that is destroying our social and intellectual world.
Fundamentally, we believe it is not enough for us to preach a radical anti-neoliberal politics – based on the empirical analysis of political and economic transformation on the continent – and not practice or attempt to develop an alternative work ethic to neoliberal capitalism in our own work on the journal and website.
With the growing sense of a virtual office, we have agreed to have periods of shutdown, in line with many countries, small bookshops, parliaments, schools, the local cafe, and many more organisations! The expectation is that as well as getting some rest, we would quietly get on with any outstanding ROAPE work but we would stop the 24/7 availability that leaves us firefighting most of the time, and could instead take time to improve our working environment.
We inform our readers and supporters that we are introducing a series of annual shutdowns, starting from 7-27 August on journal production, and from 7 August – 2 September on the website and social media. This will mean that we are not communicating with authors and reviewers, and that roape.net and social media will not be emailing, posting, tweeting or updating.
Editorial Working Group