imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Workers in Control or Workers Under Control?

by Brian Oliver Sheppard Thursday, Nov. 29, 2001 at 8:13 PM

"New Oroville," a corporate labor colony, provides a total living experience for its workers.


Which will it be?


Brian Oliver Sheppard


Clusters of small white domes stretch across the countryside, gleaming in rows that resemble massive, neatly laid eggs. There are over 4,300 of these "eggs," and each of them are about 40 feet tall. The impression from a distance is one of an otherworldly hatchery rather than a community of humans. But New Oroville is a city, and it does not have a mayor. Instead, it has a CEO.

The "cubicle domes," as one libertarian cyberculture journal referred to them, house human beings, shops, temples, and most importantly, places of work. The co-founders of the town call it an "information technology township," and it exists to house, train, and provide leisure for at least 4,000 high tech workers. The founders of the town are three former executives of Microsoft who left to form their own company, called Catalytic Software. They needed cheap labor, and they needed it in one place, where it could be regulated, structured, compartmentalized, and renewed indefinitely, as business needs demanded. That led to the creation of this 21st century experiment just outside Hyderabad, India. "New Oroville is our place," Catalytic CEO Swain Porter declared to _Wired_. "We set the rules. We enforce them. We're not going to have a lot of discontents."

This total environment is one blueprint for workers' control. Unfortunately, it is the kind of workers' control that represents control of workers rather than control by workers. It is one possible future, and it is approaching quickly.

Another possible future is one that working people may find a little more desirable: that of their own determination, in solidarity with other workers, both manual and intellectual, skilled and unskilled, to develop communities and indeed the future history of the planet as they see fit.


Far from being a cultural anamoly, New Oroville represents more clearly than many other places the attempt of corporate chieftains to establish totalizing controls over communities and their workers. Attempts to completely control the lives of community inhabitants in the First World are usually held in check by cultural dissidence. But in India and elsewhere, where many live in abject poverty, corporations have freer rein to implement their vision of a perfect, total community. This is why New Oroville serves well as an example of a community built from the ground up by those whose only consideration is maximizing profit. In an important way it is the

crystallization of the phenomenon of entire living experiences consciously planned around the exploitation of labor.

But the New Oroville model is not entirely particular to the Third World, either.

In privileged parts of the world, enlightened, New Age corporations have developed corporate "campuses" complete with well-manicured parks, fountains, libraries, and cafes. Such corporations readily admit that they structure the working and living environments of their workers thusly to keep them "happy," since happy workers are more obedient and productive. This extraordinary admission of psychological manipulation, with its revelation of a presumptuous shaping of employee behaviors to those most desirable to corporate controllers, passes with little remark. The corporate campuses and company towns of the First World are what happens when a company becomes large enough, audacious enough, to directly engineer social life beyond its 9-to-5 operations.

What we are led to, again, is a schema of controlling workers, so that they might produce reliably, efficiently, and with as little deviation from the goals of corporate managers as possible. Some employees are no doubt satisfied with this sort of relationship, as it provides a paycheck, which in turn provides the means to life. They seem to be satisfied with the power relationship between their employer and themselves in the sense that some prisoners are satisfied with prison since it comes with free food and housing.

New Oroville is a prototype for the colonization of the planet in the image of unabashed profit. Looking every bit _like_ a space colony, it is perhaps doubly appropriate this way. New Oroville and other less-developed sweatshop compounds in Asia are colonies of non-stop labor, where architecture, family, and indeed any living experience outside of work, are merely ancillary to work. New Oroville may be a "dream town" to some (as Ziff-Davis India called it), but it represents the graveyard of any meaningful movement against authoritarianism, and certainly the graveyard of any meaningful labor movement. Every new New Oroville that pops up across the face of the planet should be considered another tombstone for workers, another necropolis that houses not free humans but lifeless drones locked into a lifestyle of toil.


The New Oroville model for the future of workers' control resembles closely the "plague city" that Michel Foucault describes in Part Three of his _Discipline and Punish_. The "plague city" is a town run under totalitarian controls, controls necessitated in Foucault's example by fear of infection and disease entering the community. The plague city, writes Foucault, "lays down for each individual his place, his body, ... his well-being, by means of an omnipresent and omniscient power that subdivides itself in a regular, uninterrupted way even to the ultimate determination of the individual, of what characterizes him, of what belongs to him, of what happens to him."

"A proper place for everyone, and everyone in their proper place": an array of neatly ordered cubicle domes, inside which are nested cube farms of compartmentalized human beings, babysitting servers or plugging in code, their lives inextricably tied up into the perpetuation of the corporate apparatus that surrounds them on all sides and at all times. In this world, the worker is no longer a person; he is an appendage of profit and his being is indistinguishable from that of the corporate entity in which he is immersed.

Or, alternately, resistance: the collaboration of workers not for making corporate overlords wealthier, but for making their own lives freer; cooperating to, in the first instance, withdraw their own producing power from the productive process in order to win some demands, and then, in the second instance, to wrest control of the entire apparatus from totalitarian hands, to be transferred to the democratic administration of the community at large. This second option is resistance; it is revolutionary; and the corporate process will regard it as a plague entering the community, to be eradicated.

If employees are happy living regimented lives, in perpetual receivership of whatever living conditions corporations give to them, there will be no use in convincing them to form revolutionary unions for the act of democratizing their workplaces and then society at large. If, however, working people suspect that there is something more to life than what the company provides - or allows - they may find forming revolutionary labor organizations their only hope. If what the corporation wants is diametrically opposed to the freedom of its workers, then joining a revolutionary labor organization may be the only definite way that workers can defend their autonomy and push the tide backwards towards a comprehensive social freedom.

So: a planet dotted with congeries of corporate labor colonies, mining earth and human alike for the resources needed to perpetuate the rule of impersonal profit? Or a global force of workers organized industrially to resist this exploitation, and to eventually take for the workers of the world what they themselves created?

Which will it be?


Brian Oliver Sheppard is the author of _Exploitation and How it Affects You_ (Barricade Books: Melbourne, Australia, 2000). He is an anarchist writer & poet who writes regularly for the _Industrial Worker_. His work has appeared in _Anarcho-Syndicalist Review_, _Onward!_, _Kontrapunkt_, _San Francisco Bay View_, _Black Business Journal_, and many others. He can be reached at or at (972) 993-2020 x1943.

Report this post as:

Local News

Why Should California Choose De Leon Over Feinstein? O10 9:55PM

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Politoscope plurivalent O17 6:59AM

Paraphysique du microcosme macrocosme O15 6:44AM

September 2018 Honduras coup update O15 3:31AM

The Nation Unites Against Brian Kemp, Most Racist Secretary of State in US O14 7:34AM

The Nation Unites Against Brian Kemp, Most Racist Secretary of State in US O14 7:23AM

Paraphysique de l'ubérisation O13 7:56AM

22 Ways Trump Has Increased US Deficit By 4 to 5 Trillion Dollars O12 10:34PM

Debunking Some Anti-Prop 10 Propaganda O12 6:56AM

Plus d'hôpitaux, à bas les aéros O12 6:38AM

When Banana Ruled (documentary) O11 3:00AM

Outstanding Report By RAMOLA D &Dr.Tomo Shibata O10 9:17PM

Dark Clouds Gather on Horizon for Financial System, Warns International Monetary Fund O10 1:51PM

Fbi pure evil & immorality O10 5:39AM

Reality Check: Palestinian-Israeli Coexistence is a Big Lie O09 7:40PM

Voiceless Animals: 2018 Candidates They Oppose O09 7:01PM

IMF Lowers Global Growth Projections and Raises Concerns of Financial Crisis O09 3:27PM

Canitie, l'inhumanité vieillit O09 7:13AM

L'anarchie en quelques exemples O07 6:50AM

100 Ways GOP Have Stolen Elections Since 1876 O06 12:03AM

Proximospective de l'univocité réifiée O05 6:27AM

“Kava-no!!!” O04 6:42PM

Trump & Palestine vs. Genesis, Rashi & The Land of Israel O03 6:29PM

The Criminality of the Elites O03 11:35AM

Business de l'inhumanitaire O03 7:51AM

Marriage Rape/Date Rape Highest Rapes O02 2:59PM

Women I Know Get Raped - Too Many Times To Count! O02 2:55PM

Women In USA Have Stockholm Syndrom O02 2:50PM

Shooting Drill's Are Political Actual Shootings O02 2:47PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy