Monday, 31 December 2012

Nudging You Off the Dole Using Head Science


The State loves breaking down working class resistance and the government is no different. Its’ Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) have recently been applying head science to claimants in a trial considered “pioneering” by one liberal newsshoot. It basically involves experimenting with claimants to find the best methods of throwing them off the dole “more quickly” and has its roots in behavioural economics.

BIT, or the ‘Nudge’ Unit, was launched by the Cabinet Office in 2010 and is run by a group of dusty know-it-alls intent on finding ways for “people to make better choices for themselves” and live happily ever after in a land of, well, happily ever after. The Nudge Unit prays to their god Thaler, Richard Thaler —whose surname gives us the noun dollar— an American economist who claimed to have worked out why people make market & investment mistakes and how to not make those mistakes and therefore make more money.

Basically, Thaler and his army think people are stupid and by positive reinforcement, or ‘nudging’, people can be influenced to make better/more-positive actions/decisions. This is why Thaler’s behavioural theory has popped up in the courts of Obama and Cameron, the latter setting up the Nudge Unit that has been bouncing round the country applying Nudge Theory to anything it can get its hands on —including the unemployed.

Government likes to engineer people's lives like it's some fucking giant game of SimCity, so BIT (or the Nudge Unit) have been messing about in Jobcentres seeing if they can ‘save more money’ by fast-tracking the unemployed into work by cutting red tape and subjecting claimants to a “range of different processes”, including getting claimants to write about traumatic events for 10 or 15 minutes every month. Very fucking crafty.

Expressive writing was used by the Nudge Unit in a 3-month trial at 3 jobcentres to apparently “build psychological resilience and well being”. But, by getting claimants to express themselves via trauma, you also gain an insight into a psychological world that would otherwise remain private, no? And what better way to get them a job, any job, by being able to play on their psychology. Seems like it’s less down to building “resilience and well being” and more about suggestion and coercion; and with minimal rights, claimants are the perfect subject to try out these nu-fangled theories without too much resistance.

Behind all the big words and Government backing, Nudge Theory looks and sounds very similar to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which in turn begins to look and sound very similar to Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) —the latter being used by Work Programme (WP) providers, such as A4e, to 'motivate' their customers towards behavioural patterns that make the WP Provider cash.

“The results are impressive” claim the Nudge Unit, with 15%-20% of claimants more likely to be kicked off benefits and into no-jobs 13 weeks after signing on. And no fucking wonder, when a team led by doctors and lords have employed psychological coercion to get you to that happy place of work, where dignity and money abound.

What real boils the revolutionary blood is nonsense like:
"Developing new tools which seek the active commitment of jobseekers to engage in specific activities, linked to aspects of their daily routines ('commitment devices'), and offering greater stretch".
Erm, you mean finding new ways to pin down a claimant using otherwise private information? A4e have been at these sorts of 'commitment devices' for years, recently culminating in something called Total Person:
"If you are living in deprivation, with multiple problems preventing you from playing a full part in society, what you need is power, options and advice to solve your own problems. You need a single person who understands you, your family, and the place you grew up; sticks with you in the long term; treats you like a human, not a number; and backs you to build a different future for yourself. We call this approach Total Person."
People get scam emails less sickening than this. Yet, the Government is pouring massive amounts of money into the gullets of these programmes —the impeachment, in some form or another, of the welfare recipient always being the end result.

The objective of Nudge, NLP, Total Person, whatever went before —and used in this way— is to invade the psychology of the individual and open it out to the disciplinary engineering of the government. At the same time, the individual is given ‘technologies of the self’ to do the same job —ultimately, we end up being attacked from within and without; and that makes it all the more important that we fuck the ruling classes & their methods right up!

This is a class war against us, a global proletariat in and out of work, who are barely managing to eke out a living during a new epoch of accumulation that's being touted as Austerity. So, these kinds of behavioural devices used to discipline and manage the workforce must be recognised, ridiculed, and finally killed by fire along with the State.


  1. This is some seriously twisted stuff. Getting people to expose their naked emotional state regarding personal trauma? GTFO!
    No doubt the people participating do so willingly which of course sets them up to believe in its success subconsciously, especially given the desperate state of living on benefits under the tory jackboot.


    1. NLP = Bullshit