Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brothel Hierarchy in the Capitalist Workplace

Is the Oldest Profession a
Prototype for all Others?
The main problem with the employment scene lately has been that decently paid jobs with benefits are rapidly disappearing. But, for the first time ever, the word capitalism is being tossed about in public discourse. People are daring to admit that the capitalist workplace, even when it's functioning perfectly, is quite problematic for many, perhaps even most, of us.

The fact is that when observing the stratified, profit-based workplace, the brothel model fits nicely. All work is, after all, prostitution on some level. Take the library where I am employed. At the bottom rung of the ladder you have street hookers, hourly employees without benefits hired if and when there is demand. They are the "five dollars for a quickie" set. As totally independent practitioners not under the umbrella of the pimps, they are free agents but the trade-off is that they are completely vulnerable to the tides of economic, and personal risk. Their work takes place in the moment and when it's finished there are no future guarantees.

Above them there are those who are offered a certain number of hours per week with benefits. These are the pros who can rent rooms by the hour. The rental of these folks' time involves a modicum of warmth and shelter in exchange for an ongoing financial arrangement.

Proceeding up the food chain, you have lower management, the call gals and guys who live very comfortably in exchange for their favors. In this classification a bit of the pimping of others is a necessary part of the bargain.

As you enter the area of middle management the true pimps emerge. These are people who earn their living off the front line work of others. They no longer need to service the johns at all and are paid only to oversee those who do.

In the rarefied air of the very top level you will find the madams, ironically a mostly male coterie, who own the brothels. They reap the profits by manipulating the pimps who control the entire stable of call girls as well as  room-rental by the hour hookers.

So what is the point of this exercise? Those of us who were not born into the lap of luxury have to sell our labor to survive. There is no need to feel ashamed or guilty because of the simple fact of our role in prostitution. After all, it's a living.

But wouldn't it be wonderful if we could stretch our minds and try to develop a different model for the workplace. A cooperative versus a competitive one, where all workers have inherent value. It has been done before, sometimes with very good results. In any case, as long as were dreaming of rebuilding society, it's at least worth some thought.