good day,

I wanted to make a thread for reports, essays, articles, studies, accounts, stories and general news that you found on the internet and enjoyed quite a lot. I realize that we already have book threads for those that enjoy reading, but I feel that books are maybe not the best tool for discussion on the internet, given that the majority of responders will simply not have been able to read them before the discussion. This is no such problem with internet non-fiction, and so I wanted this thread to be a repository of all your favourite internet writings that you wish to share with others. Perhaps we can discuss some of these, given the low barrier to entry. I do hope that by sharing some of my favourite articles I can try to raise the sanity waterline, even if only to the small number of slaent users that venture outside of the sports threads.

With that said, here are some of my favourite articles, both past and present. I read a fuckton during my working hours so I'll try and update this thread every week. In the meantime, here are some of the very best works I have read now and in the past:

How to explain Poland’s swing against the European Union? How to explain the election of the Catholic fundamentalist, authoritarian, populist, Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party to rule a booming country that has benefited from more than €130 billion in EU investment in its roads, railways and schools, a country where only a few years after EU accession in 2004 hundreds of foreign factories and distribution centres opened, employing hundreds of thousands of people, a country whose citizens have taken advantage of EU freedom of movement to travel, work and study across the continent in their millions?

Anna Pasternak, who worked at the new chocolate factory in Skarbimierz, noticed the age of the equipment on the production lines. The wear on the metal caused by decades of Somerdale workers’ hands was the only message the British employees sent to their Polish successors. I met Pasternak in her flat in Brzeg, the nearest sizeable town to Skarbimierz. I asked her how she felt about what had happened to the British factory. ‘I never really thought about it,’ she said. ‘We lost so many jobs here in Brzeg … We didn’t feel sorry that others lost theirs … It’s somewhere else in the world. We don’t physically know these people.’

We spent a long time talking about Britain’s post-EU future. Much of what Radford said didn’t make sense to me; I couldn’t see, for instance, how ‘We want free trade’ fitted together with ‘Why should we buy Chinese steel, we’ve got our own?’ Sparring, our voices rose. Partly I still felt raw after the referendum result. But partly my discomfort was towards the institution I was defending, because I couldn’t disagree that, in this case, the EU had let the people of Keynsham down badly. ‘How many billion pounds did it cost us?’ Radford asked of the new factory in Skarbimierz. ‘Because it’s in the middle of nowhere. They had to do all the roads, all the infrastructure, and that was all paid for through our donations.’

Not all; and not billions. But a sizeable proportion – definitely. And the full story makes the EU look even worse than Radford knew.

For Cadbury, the incentives were numerous. The move would replace expensive, unionised workers with cheap workers in a country where the unions are weak. Much of the cost of the new factory would be covered by selling the Somerdale site for housing. Chocolate sales in the eastern EU, Russia and Ukraine (this was before the Ukrainian rebellions and sanctions against Russia) were growing, and Skarbimierz was in the middle of the new Europe, rather than, like Bristol, out on the far fringe of its road system. It’s right next to the E40, the longest designated Euro-road, which runs west in a straight line to Calais, and east through Ukraine and Russia to Central Asia. On top of this, Poland (and the EU) offered one more highly lucrative incentive. In 2007, Skarbimierz got zoned.

Mondelez Poland said it employed ‘around four hundred people’ on ‘permanent contracts’ and a ‘variable’ number on temporary contracts. But under Polish law, a ‘permanent’ contract can actually mean a job that is renewed, or not, every month. Poland leads the EU in temporary contracts, by some margin: 22 per cent of its workforce is on one. Employment agencies in Poland keep coming up with new variants; one agency offered Ukrainian workers with a year’s guarantee, like a domestic appliance. ‘They recruit in Ukraine and give an employer a warranty – this person will work for one year, and if not, we’ll replace them with someone else, equally qualified,’ was how Kaśnikowska described it.

Temporary jobs; temporary factories. In 2009 the first multinational to invest in the Wałbrzych zone, the Japanese car parts maker Takata Petri, closed its plant with the loss of 600 jobs and moved production to a special economic zone in Romania, where workers are cheaper. In 1996, in Britain, the Welsh Development Agency agreed a £124 million grant to LG electronics on its promise to invest £1.7 billion and create six thousand jobs. In the end, LG invested much less and ten years later shut down its last assembly lines in Wales, as it ramped up production at its new, subsidised plant outside Wałbrzych. Now LG is sharply cutting jobs at its Polish plant.

One of the nails in Civic Platform’s coffin was a series of transcripts of secret recordings of conversations between government officials published in 2014 in the magazine Wprost. Civic Platform, the champion of press freedom, sent in the security services in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the recordings. On one of the tapes a Civic Platform minister, now an EU commissioner, can be heard telling the country’s anti-corruption chief that ‘only an idiot would work for less than 6000 złoty a month’ – €1500, twice Poland’s average salary.

There’s an alternative narrative to the Somerdale-as-tragedy story. Cadbury’s closure announcement didn’t come as a complete shock: workers had noticed that the firm had stopped investing in the building. There were leaks in the roof. Rumours that the factory’s days were numbered went back at least as far as 1978, when Dave Silsbury started work. Then, 5000 people worked there. By 2007, outsourcing and automation had whittled the numbers down to a tenth of that. ‘It was almost unthinkable that a machine could wrap an Easter egg, because of the nature of the product and the shape of the egg, but now they can,’ Barrie Roberts, a national official from Unite, told me. Because workers in Poland were so much cheaper, automation actually took a step backwards when production moved; the honeycombed sugar in Crunchie bars, which at Somerdale had been automatically cut with high-speed jets of oil, reverted in Poland to being cut the old labour-intensive way with saws. Cadbury could have had a fight on its hands over closure. It had three other factories in Britain, and the national union was ready to support the Somerdale workforce if they chose to strike. But they didn’t. Many workers were nearing retirement age, the company’s redundancy terms seemed generous, and in the end the majority (not Silsbury or Nicholls) voted 70 to 30 to accept.

True, the optimistic version of the story goes, the EU was wrong to allow Poland to offer Cadbury a subsidy to move. But in the long run, in Europe as a whole, everyone benefits. Eastern Europe gets richer and catches up with Western Europe; instead of 400 million people working and shopping and 100 million people working and queuing, you have 500 million people working and shopping. A bigger market, greater prosperity for all, a peaceful commonwealth, warplanes into chocolate.

At Mondelez in Skarbimierz, where casualisation, cost-cutting and fears of being undercut by cheaper labour elsewhere prevail, the target the workers are theoretically aiming for, economic parity with Western Europe, is disappearing from view. The equilibrium, in other words, when the Poles catch up with the Britons, will see a European economy that is, overall, much bigger, but where working-class Britons will have fallen back, and working-class Poles will never enjoy the security and prosperity of their vanished British counterparts in what now seems a mid-20th-century golden age. Scaled up to the global level you have a system which, in its search for short-term efficiency and capital yield, restricts the power much of humanity has to consume what it produces. Multinational manufacturers of consumer goods cut their costs to the bone, sweating their wage and pension bill and buying up robots to deliver yield to the pension funds and sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds and wealthy families that own them; but who then will be able to afford the consumer goods? Those people who work for the other guy? But the other guy is doing the same thing. And robots don’t eat chocolate.

First up is this article from the London Review of Books, about the move of a Cadbury's factory from the UK to Poland, but more generally concerning Brexit, Globalization, Populism, the end of the working class, and inequality. It's about an hour read but I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone as an examination of modern malaise