Weekend Reading

New year, new reading.

The Wendlenders chose explicitly non-violent forms of resistance, but the West German authorities attacked, undeterred by moral force or persuasion. A year later, when the government restarted construction of a nuclear power plant at Brokdorf near the North Sea, perhaps they expected the same peaceful acquiescence. What they found instead was quite different.

Opposition groups called a large protest and nearly a hundred thousand came; many attempted to storm the building site and occupy it. As the police tried to drive protesters away with clubs and water cannons, they were attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails, mostly hurled by youths in black ski masks and motorcycle helmets. By the end of the day, protestors had breached all but the last inner fence of the construction site and destroyed a water canon truck with petrol bombs. The authorities were stunned by the protesters’ ferocity, and the fight at Brokdorf revealed a new radical force in the cracks of West German society.

Already activists for wages for internships have begun to follow a similar scheme, gathering interns for shared experiences and culling examples of particularly egregious work. Intern Labor Rights, an outpost of the Arts and Labor Occupy group, describes as part of its outreach how internships “devalue the fundamental dignity of work” and how “unpaid internships produce a culture of self-denigration in the workforce.” Such efforts still operate on a small scale, but they point to a growing sense among interns of their rights and worth. A small ripple of lawsuits early in 2012—after the Department of Labor issued guidelines that suggested it would crack down on the practice—has prompted a number of employers to pay their interns.

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