For nine days in November/December 2012, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach lay sleeping. Fifteen container vessels sat anchored off the coast. We were told that “featherbedding” will not be tolerated and the management complains of operational “nightmares”. The supply chain oneiric aspires toward an efficiency it can never obtain under capitalism, but it won’t ever be able to believe this. Instead, it intends to produce/instrumentalize more docile and flexible humans—and fewer of them.
The clerical workers of the main Southern California ports struck against this logic. According to “Bloomberg” (the man, the business organ), the workers were hurting no one but themselves. Their economic impact to industry was $2.5 billion per day — yet, “Bloomberg’s” chief concern had, of course, nothing to do with market impact—the true concern was for their beloved truckers… “They’re dying,” says the organ.
The clerical workers have arisen. They struck to protect themselves from the company axe. Management hopes to outsource or casualize the labor force in order to adhere to Lean dogma—an efficiency imperative with it’s roots in Taylorism’s scrupulous accounting of non-essential action, but made even more sadistic by the newer ‘just-in-time’ gospel of late-capitalist globalization. Essentially, value is denied whenever workers stand idle. Ironically, 800 clerks triggered a chain reaction of idleness—a repudiation of the new rhetoric of the ‘value chain’. Their picket lines weren’t crossed by their comrades on the docks—and the entry point for nearly half of all goods flowing into the U.S. was effectively at rest—asleep in the harbor.
What if this idleness spreads? Then the nightmares of management and capital will intensify. The man (quoted above) who speaks of nightmares is a logistics operative in the Southern California trade corridor. One of his specialties is the importation of hunting trophies—animals of distinction that were killed elsewhere and that must now enter the country as sculpture. This section of their website includes informative features on “hunting drones” and “hunting the pressure” created by other hunters—the technocratic management of animal death.