Hurston Dynamics elites are not benefactors for workers

Hurston Dynamics elites are not benefactors for workers
Maria Pure of Heart hospital scene / by Svalbard Sleeper District / licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

While some corporate leaders may offer tokenistic steps for worker welfare in the midst of their exploitation, celebrating their actions as creating societal change is faux history

/23 September 2953/

Built by workers; staffed by workers; cleaned, maintained and supplied by workers; receiving and discharging patients cared for by workers. The Maria Pure of Heart hospital in Lorville exists and functions only through efforts of ordinary people selling their labour – both those who built it, and those who make it exist today. But they are not the ones credited with giant letters emblazoned on its walls and immortalised with plaques of biographic timelines. Just like all the August Dunlow Spaceports, Bevic Covention Centres and Tobin Expo Centres, the name of this facility celebrates an individual who existed in a separate realm from those workers – a life of privilege and no relevance to the common people.

While that is an established reality in Stanton – where traces of the Before Corporate Era communities, and graves of UEE fleet servicemembers sacrificed for protecting resources for the benefit of corporate coffers, are buried under the present domination of the private over the common – my thoughts were brought to this particular venue in Lorville by a new reminder of how we are fed an informational diet that presents scenes of daily injustice as noble causes by those at the top of the social ladder.

A recently reprinted excerpt from a Meritus Press piece told us about high-level family machinations of Hurston Dynamics leaders over decades of the late 28th and early 29th century, when the choice of the new CEO became a game of advancement of personal interests and selective nepotism. The backstage rivalry was played out over which of Olivia Hurston's sons would get the next shot at company leadership, and who would end up the defeated party to suffer the tragic fate of a lesser management role and a salary featuring a few less figures.

This story, of Jasper Hurston, one of Olivia's sons, being cast off for the periphery and destined never to threaten the top steps of the corporate ladder, making a sudden comeback after meeting Maria Wharton of the wealthy family whose anti-Messer stance had left them without their former riches and status, is all perfectly suitable to the life of those who never have to worry about making a living for themselves. They can have biographies written about their inner-castle struggles, defeats and wins, all of it enabled by the constant work of those who actually build the castles and produce the wealth that is then taken from them and delivered to the likes of the Hurstons. And it is then used for a narrative we are given all the time – of our history being shaped by benign, individual, rich "leaders" and their actions for those less fortunate. The workers build the world, the leeches exploiting them have books written to celebrate their noble achievements as "visionaries", "entrepreneurs" and "pioneers".

Maria Pure of Heart hospital scene / by Svalbard Sleeper District / licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

The article in question is not overtly celebrating Maria Wharton. Those publishing the story of her life and actions in our time are ostensibly telling us both about her work, which culminated in a worker welfare programme she launched to improve the welfare of Hurston Dynamics labourers, but also about how she was seen to use it to promote herself and her career, instead of being a devoted, sincere humanitarian. While there is not much to question in that double-sided story – she did improve some conditions for workers with her initiative, and she did herself admit being interested in promoting her own publicity – the history of those high-level games at polished company offices omits a bigger picture. The fact that in class society, whatever temporary, limited good is done for workers by those at the levers of economic power, for the working class they ultimately remain the antagonists of history.

I have little interest in critiquing Wharton's biography based on when she became an advocate for HD workers' welfare – even though we all know she only took an interest when she saw the opportunity of gaining corporate leadership for Jasper Hurston by using the stories of "off-booked" workers the company had dumped without medical coverage; or critiquing her decision to join HD to start with – even though there is no redeeming quality in leading, and promoting, that odious entity, one of four mega-exploiters of workers of Stanton; or her only using her knowledge of HD operations poisoning an ecosystem on Asura as a blackmail for gaining favours for her partner and herself within the company – even though it is clear what that says about the personal ideals and causes of the person in question. I want to tackle not the facts of her "crusades" within the corporation, but the idea the article is promoting – that individual actions of the likes of Maria Wharton and Jasper Hurston are more important for public life, and for advancing society, than the daily labour of ordinary people of the UEE, which never gets highlighted as such, or at all.

The wealth of both families – the Whartons and the Hurstons – comes from the work of those turning screws on factory benches, placing blocks on construction sites, mopping warehouse floors, running accounting software, maintaining human resources' databases, and doing other tasks that keep the wheels of industry, economy and societal progress going while they receive crumbs in return. What was the family company of Maria Wharton doing while they were being lauded for their noble protests against the Messer regime? They were extracting every last drop of sweat, and sometimes blood, from their construction workers just as relentlessly as the four corporate vultures that own the planets and moons of Stanton. They supposedly lost their standing with the regime after refusing to build internment facilities they called "inhumane". Does that suddenly erase the history of their comfortable prior existence under the Messers, and their successful snatching of government contract after government contract to profit on? And I do not even need to describe the Hurston business, built on the edifice of rampant worker expropriation and environmental evisceration in Stanton – a system whose original inhabitants were driven off its planets by the four megacorporate entities that received the system as a present from the state.

Workers of these and other companies do not need Maria Whartons giving them healthcare programmes; they do not need Jasper Hurstons leaking information about "off-booked" labourers discarded by HD; they do not need audio lines being played on repeat at the Lorville hospital to remind them that, supposedly, "we all want to be able to work longer hours". What these and other workers need, and deserve, is an economic and industrial order where there are no Whartons, Hurstons, ArcCorps and others – an order where workers themselves own and operate all factories, warehouses, offices, stores, media outlets and all other types of workplaces. A democratic, horizontal, mutually beneficial economy where workers have a say in all matters of production and distribution, get a corresponding share of the wealth they produce, and enjoy work on their own terms and as a means for self-fulfilment.

We also need media that refuse to tow these elite-serving, elite-centred narratives about our society and instead bring a mirror to it – to show us what structures of power, and resulting injustices and inequalities, we are maintaining on a daily basis. The above narratives are developed in editorial rooms of established, corporate, commercial-driven media outlets and holdings, which do not bother themselves with going door-to-door to inquire about stories and lives of ordinary people of Stanton and beyond. Their journalists find much more interest in forging connections in upper echelons of power, seeking to find – or rather, be fed – "scoops" and "leaks" from political and economic elites, for the purpose of advancing their media and opinion-making careers. They take their cues from parties, corporate PR offices, mainstream economists and policymakers, with no space left for workers and their lives. Theirs is a profession of stenographers, and of distributors of narratives handed down from above – not the profession of journalism that carries its original ideals of serving public interest by covering events from its perspective, giving space to informed discussion of history and power, and enabling voices of the marginalised to be heard.

We may be able to escape Stanton by travelling to another system, but the media cocktail of promotion of some of the most notoriously regressive forces of history do not know the limits of system boundaries. Next time you see a corporate "leader" being paraded in front of cameras on a feed, think not of their polished jackets, the cushioned seats waiting for their bottoms in their limousines, or the upper-class "opinion-makers" swirling around them with apparently deserved reverence, but of those whose work made them exist as such.