In Korea, thousands of workers at Ssyangyong occupied a factory to protest layoffs, outsourcing, and casualization. All across the US, workers are also protesting casualization. Casualization is when management breaks up a union and creates a new tier of second-class citizen workers without union wages, benefits, or protections. Usually this is done along lines of race, gender, or citizenship status. At its extreme, casualization means they ask you to work for a few hours one week then 70 hours the next.... to work hard for 3 years at a job then to be unemployed for another year then to bust your ass at another job for 5 then to retire early into debt and poverty.
I was discussing this with my friend. He is a custodian and kind of a "philosopher king", as the director of the new movie about campus custodians puts it. He is a theologian, poet, artisan, blacksmith, instrument maker, musician, revolutionary, and labor militant. He told me that he had seen a newspaper article about how in Georgia unemployed workers are "auditioning" for scarce jobs. They are working for free for a week so the boss can see who will bring in the most profit and who will therefore get the job. It's like a modern day slave auction.
My friend pointed out the severe moral implications of this process of "casualization." Really, the word casualization speaks to the heartrot seeping through more and more of modern society. It begins with the bosess and then trickles down, or really blasts down through the ranks of labor. We are forced to regard our fellow human beings casually. Our presence in each others' lives can never be guaranteed because we could be forced out and broken apart through layoffs, gentrification/rent hikes, imprisonment, etc., etc. We can't build stable relationships, we can't plan for the future, we can't risk deeper connections with each other because it could all come crashing down at any time.
To paraphrase Marx, as capitalism marches forward everything holy is profaned, everything stable melts into thin air.
My friend came up with a biblical phrase to describe the actions of someone who was facilitating this process of casualization in his workplace. He said this misleader is endowed with the "anointing of confusion." And God is NOT the author of confusion.
All across the country, across the world, society is getting scrambled with the anointing of confusion like a legion of demons marching through every relationship that we used to think was sure or stable. We are being scrambled, confused, messed up. Society is regarding us casually.
There is only ONE good thing about this process: a lot of previous idols are also melting down. People are loosing faith in all mighty Mamon, in capitalism, in the assumption that we should just slog it out in our dead end jobs cuz we might get rich one day. That American Dream is being replaced with chaos and confusion. The alternatives could be terrifying or they could be beautiful: it is up to us and it is up to God's providence working through us.
God is not the author of confusion, but we have been told that God can make good out of a confusing situation. God does not regard his creation casually but he can still find us in the swirl of confusion and casualization that is beseting us and teach us the way in and through this disastrous situation. Precisely because we're no longer clinging to the sureness of our past idols, he can find us and share the good news with us.
After all, God was casualized on the cross. He was regarded casually, as a thing to be tossed away and discarded. The early church was ripped up and scattered to the wind. And yet out of that, the community rose again with God's spirit, recomposed itself, and found its dignity. Jesus' good news to the poor today is that our labor is not destined for pure confusion. We can still use our hands and our minds to build up God's creation with justice and stability. God will get our backs as we rise up against the bosses, the casualizers, and the confusers of this world. This is part of the age old struggle against the Anointer of Confusion who the bosses always seem to be praying to.
To love our neighbors, we need to revolt against the system that forces us to regard each other casually.