Towards the Political Economy of Flow
What Flows and What Cannot Flow
In well-known fragments from The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels reveal their fascination with the dynamic of capital. In their emphatic take, capital brings down Chinese walls and sets everything in motion. As a conduit of mobility and innovation, it circles the world, crossing state and feudal borders and the boundaries of religions and cultures. Such unstoppability sets our imagination in motion, with many writers and thinkers considering it the most important feature of modernity. Two decades later, the outlook has changed; on the first pages of Capital, Marx has abandoned his previous enthusiasm. Now, capital is presented as an engine of exploitation, subjugation, and merciless power. The mobility has transformed into the oppression of class hierarchy, innovation – into the mechanics of exploitation.
These two images are only apparently mutually exclusive. Indeed, they complement each other. Marx’s fascination with capitalism’s dynamism in 1848 and his merciless reconstruction of the formation of capital as a social relationship in 1867 describe the same process, seen, however, from two different viewpoints and in two distinct historical moments. Taken together, they provide a perfect key for finding the answer to the question of what can and what cannot flow in our world. Together, they help us to understand the dialectics of economic flows and the barriers erected in their path, the dialectics of global capitalism that makes us realize its great impact and causative force on the occasion of ever more crises, whether related to migration, finance, raw materials, or global warming.
1. The Accumulation of the Great Lock-In
Marx’s analysis of the process of primitive accumulation of capital, presented in the first volume of Capital, provides a perfect matrix to try and capture the dynamic of contemporary migrations, their political economy, and the evolution of border control politics. Marx’s expose runs something like this: the early formation of capital in the new era requires resources and a labor force. This need can be met only by breaking the peasants’ attachment to land. The process of land enclosures frees up land for the process of accumulation in the hands of big landowners, resulting in a transformation of land usage from food production to animal husbandry and servicing the production of textiles industry, leading finally to commercial trading and speculation in land – releasing value. Vagrancy laws deal with the dispossessed, turning them into a labor force, ready-made factory fodder. Capital, supported by a monarchic state, expels peasants from their land, obliging them to move about in search of a living, and in turn to migrate. In the declining days of feudalism and with the transition to a class society, this was called vagrancy. At the same time, the monarchy outlawed migration and went to war against it, with hundreds of thousands of migrants hanged. The object, however, is not the extermination of the impoverished masses, torn away from their land. What is at stake is not only the taking away of their land, but also denuding them of social bonds, aspiration, and any vestige of resistance – in effect, reducing them to a bare existence, no more than a workforce, stripped of any identity with a feudal caste, or regional community, and the related subjectivization based on common law and tradition.
It was only when reduced to such deplorable state, that hungry, oppressed migrants could be forced to work for the capitalist. The French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault called the process the Great Confinement. That, however, was only part of the transformation that took place in the second half of the 17th and in the 18th century. Confining the poor to the factories was a condition for opening up a space for the circulation of the products of the labor of the thus nascent proletariat, in other words – the creation of a market for the production of goods. The dispossession, the imperative of labor and the freedom of commodification were to become the pillars of the newly born capitalism.
2. Capitalism and Migration
Many theoreticians of capitalism, who remain under the spell of neoclassical theories, when identifying its vital characteristics, dwell on the exchange of goods, movement of capital, circulation of investment and securities as well as the members of the richest 1% of society, disregarding the sphere of production and its corresponding class relationships. As a matter of fact, trade, associated with the removing of barriers and limits, liberalization of the law and opening of borders has only been possible thanks to another movement – the displacement of the human mass, linked to coercion, and the imposition of new barriers and discipline. It is thus a consequence of oppression: economic (dispossession), religious (persecution), and ecological (drought, poor harvests). In the geographical sense, migration is linked here with a structural release of mobility, which remains a condition for the success of the coercion of labor. However, this apparently paradoxical state of affairs is marked by a potential for rebellion. Capitalism enforces migration because it needs a dispossessed, defenseless labor force. At the same time, it creates the conditions for undermining its own power structure. For migration is also a form of a class war.
Today, the mechanism described by Marx can be observed clearly on a global level, especially since capitalism has sunk into a structural crisis and has been managed through accumulation based on dispossession. Nevertheless, an unbalanced circulation of goods, money, and people did have truly spectacular moments in the past. Ever since the 16th century, the scale of migration has steadily increased. It has at all times been accompanied by forcible dispossession and repression. From the beginning of the 18th to the mid-19th century, 9 million slaves were carried over the Atlantic, and perhaps twice that number died during slave wars and in transit. To that number one must add some million sailors that serviced the slave routes – usually, forced labor. Together with the slaves on Caribbean plantations, they were the first proletariat of global capitalism. In the infamous Atlantic triangle, the emancipatory force of transcontinental flows of finance and goods – which conquered the Iberian empires and made possible the accumulation of capital that would later be invested in the second industrial revolution – manifested itself in the most barbaric forms of slavery. Europe, which at the time was experiencing violent industrialization and urbanization, was exporting its own surplus population. According to the calculations of the British sociologist Jane Hardy, in the period 1870–1914 alone, some 50 million people left the continent. That demographic outflow allowed capitalism to develop while smoothing over its contradictions and protecting it from the revolt of the dispossessed. Alongside colonial conquest and the addition of Asian economies to the Eurocentric world system, similar numbers emigrated from China and India (30 million from India alone) – in a world with a population of one billion. In comparison to what took place before 1914, today’s 60 million refugees – of which four million in Europe – and 220 million migrants – of whom 30 million in Europe – fail to make as great an impression as they might otherwise have.
3. There Has Been No Refugee Crisis
Far more shocking are the scope and brutality of current legislation against vagrancy. Although today, we do not hang those fleeing the specter of starvation – they are instead drowned, and on a mass scale. The events of 2015 made this crystal-clear, even for those to whom Frontex, the name of the EU border agency meant nothing. We had had it all back to front, as presented by racists, who had counted on evoking a moral panic that would put them in power. In fact, there had been no migration crisis, since the influx of fewer than a million refugees (compared to some 600,000 a year earlier) could hardly count as one. The crisis was related to European capitalism and its political structure within the EU. The surfeit of the images of the supposed flood of strangers in the mass media hid a dramatic deficit of any strategy for dealing with the crisis.
For months, we watched the great show concealing the key content to understand the dramatic social and political situation in the European Union itself. The anti-refugee hysteria distracted our attention from the harsh way that the neoliberal elites dealt with the left-wing alternative, represented by the Syriza Coalition of the Radical Left in Greece, to the suicidal austerity program. However, the situation in the Balkans got out of control. The absence of political will meant that, from being passive recipients of our humanitarian actions and police harassment, the refugees were transformed into a political subject capable of radical questioning of EU border policy and forcing its redefinition. The crowds of defenseless people managed, for a few weeks, to abolish the EU border regime (Dublin II). The situation is a pointer to geopolitics and the political economy of migration, which constitute only one of the levels of the global description of the crisis of capitalism and the crystallization of new political subjects, who have challenged the logic of the reproduction of a system of unlimited accumulation.
4. Managing the Flows
As the Greek sociologist Vassilis Tsianos demonstrates, the EU war on migrants, as a result of which some 30,000 people have lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean and Atlantic over the last 20 years, does not aim to block the transition of the channels of population flows. Rather what is at stake is the governments’ attempts to control the porosity of borders, to create a form of governing that Tsianos calls “porocracy”: achieving global inclusion in the realm of productivity through the deceleration of migration ﬂows. This policy not so much closes off, as opens up the possibilities of getting through to Europe. It manages the flow rather than simply blocking it. From the economic point of view, the porocratic mechanism constitutes the introductory form of a segmentation of the labor force, which could be described as meritocratic apartheid. Potentially economically useful migrants are separated from those considered redundant. From the point of view of national security, a further segmentation also takes place. It reflects the geopolitical priorities of the West, which is based on the fact that some wars and regimes are considered sufficient reason to emigrate, while others – not. The list of countries giving rise to a “right” to migrate, adopted by the Balkan member states of the EU in the autumn of 2015, reflects the arbitrary nature of this practice. At a certain point, there was no room on that list for refugees from Afghanistan, where the raging war is now far more murderous than before the arrival of NATO forces there, nor for Libya – where it was NATO that instigated the war.
A significant modification of porocratic regimes during the recent decades has been the change in the status of the border. As the French philosopher Etienne Balibar points out, it has been linked to the disappearance of European borders as tangible, physically present lines to cross. This process – which has intensified alongside the political and legal integration within the EU’s Schengen Area – means that the border has ceased to be a specific line on the map but has become an element of the status of a refugee or migrant, an obstacle hard to overcome. In that sense, although invisible, the border has become impossible to cross. The border and the suspension of rights linked to the border zone have expanded on to the entire territory of the country accepting migrants. The lesser the status of the border crossing, the greater the impact of the state of emergency as a situation imposed on refugees and migrants during their entire stay in their target countries.
The state of emergency allows state authorities to get rid of migrant workers as soon as the profitability of capital is threatened with a crisis. The American historian Silvia Federici describes such situations in the 1930s, where, in California and Texas, tens of thousands of Mexican workers were deported, with xenophobic persecution stirred up in the process. In turn, during the Asian Crisis of 1997–98, Malaysia and Thailand without much ado got rid of hundreds of thousands of migrants.
5. Neoliberal Dialectics of Movement and Immobilization
Immersed in stagnation that it cannot face, capitalism seeks to deal with it through neoliberal strategies. These involve a radicalization of globalization that relies on, inter alia, an uneven opening of borders – for the circulation of finance, goods and investment, while closing them – to certain kind of people. This form of globalization results in the speeding up of the process, “natural” in capitalism, of the equalization of the prices of products of social work and financial assets and an increasing inequality of wages. The Egyptian and French economist Samir Amin calls this mechanism the law of globalized value; he stresses that it is responsible for the division and polarization of the global economy into centers and a periphery. Those in the South, reduced to the status of cheap labor – a supposed comparative advantage of the countries of the periphery in the blueprint set out in the programs of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group – have fallen prey to the globalized prices of essential goods, in particular food. Viewed from this angle, the free trade celebrated by the WTO, World Trade Organization, and in the free-trade agreements such as the TTIP or CETA turned out to be a regime constraining the structural mobility and flow of labor. After all, workers’ upward mobility is predicated on such historic victories of the working class as labor laws, public services, national insurance, and social support. Today, all these – viewed as non-tariff barriers to trade – are being steadily dismantled.
The effects of the globalized value system can be seen clearly in the food sector, which in the 1980s and 1990s was radically deregulated, and in consequence monopolized by multinational corporations and global finance. Global flows in the term contract markets are based on asymmetrical liberalization of the trade in cereals, destruction of subsidies for farming in the South, and the ruination of millions of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, trapped in starvation in the countryside, or the rapidly expanding slums of the large urban conurbations. The transactions that take place on these markets move billions of dollars globally, with a knock-on effect, upwards or downwards, on food prices. The profits raked in in the dynamic part of the system are paid for almost directly by the poverty and hunger of its economic base, trapped in the South. In the global financial crisis of 2008, with prices of secondary products crashed on American and European financial markets, an avalanche of hot money sought safe havens. It found it on the futures markets, as well as in oil and gold, and the violent influx of hot money caused global wheat prices to shoot up by 140% in the space of a few months. While the Western media wept for the bankers sacked following the fall of Lehmann Brothers, the world experienced for the first time ever a global food crisis. In a few months, the starving masses clocked up another 100 million, and it was the aftermath of the crisis in the autumn of 2010 that accounted directly for the Arab Spring.
The same logic of liberalization that powers the movement on debt and futures markets, opens new potential for the externalization of the ecological cost of capital expansion, away from the center of the system. The lucrative emissions trading – a government-mandated, market-based approach to controlling pollution by the means of economic incentive to countries reducing emissions of pollutants – has turned poisoning the planet into a money-spinner for the budgets of some poorer countries, including Poland. The affluent North exports not only mountains of actual rubbish but also the future social cost of the unequal pollution. Although it is the North itself that is largely responsible for destroying the ozone layer and for global warming, it has shifted the majority of the negative impact of its lifestyle onto the poorer South. Today, in sub-Saharan Africa, millions flee from the lethal drought caused by global warming, which is also said to have played a role in sparking the unrest in Syria leading to war and ultimately 6 million refugees. It is estimated that by 2050 the number of climate-related migrants may reach 200 million.
The ecological catastrophe has been part and parcel of the phenomenon of new extractivism: the arrival of a global extraction network, coupled with an international supply chain for the electronic and petrochemical industries. The new extractivism is supported by two pillars. The first is that the indebted South has been forced to allow access to its natural resources; in Peru, the government handed over 20% of its territory to foreign companies. In the metal-rich Kivu province in the Congo, the multinational corporations did not even bother to negotiate with the country’s government; they have divided the region into zones of exploitation under the shadow of the war that they sponsored. Even war is no threat to profitability there, due to the low cost of open-cast mining and the global circulation of natural resources unencumbered by tariff barriers.
The second pillar of the new extractivism consists of the various forms of immobilizing workers who live in the mining region. Often, as in Louisiana, the workers are employed by an industry that is destroying their environment but has a monopoly on the local labor market, leaving no escape for the workers, too poor to leave.
Capitalism – which its enthusiasts, fascinated with its supposed network structure and its emancipatory potential, sometimes describe as “cognitive” – uses new technologies to close off access to knowledge. Rather than the logic of the open network, it imposes the strategy that Zygmunt Bauman referred to as capital in search of new pastures. Cognitive capitalism does not introduce any qualitative difference in the functioning of the system. It is, however, an attempt to commercialize intellectual and cultural communal assets – to that end, simply stopping the natural circulation of knowledge, it effectively subjugates it to the monopoly of intellectual property. Only once it has been immobilized, can knowledge become profitable. This is how media corporations function today, lowering their own costs by availing themselves with gusto of the free content of social media, only then to lock it up in their own paid services. In this manner, capitalism has been vacuuming up our common heritage that stems from base communism, as described by the anthropologist David Graeber, and relies on factors such as the collective production of knowledge and cultural texts and communications – exploiting the dynamism and egalitarianism of this system to strengthen its own mechanisms of exclusion and privilege.
Rosa Luxemburg wrote that in conquering the world, capitalism wades through the blood of its victims. This largely remains the case today. Today, the globalization of finance and supply chains has been accompanied by the globalization of war and the free circulation of the apparatus of imperialist power – take the occupation forces in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the expeditionary corps in Yemen, Mali, and the Central African Republic, the special forces in Libya and Syria, the mercenaries in the Congo and Donbas, or the drones in Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria. In parallel with the expansion of the new forms of conflict and imperialist aggression, international laws and the world organizations that theoretically guard them have been eroded. As a result, we see a blurring of the division lines between the hostile army and terrorists, or terrorists and the civilian population, and in the final analysis – between war and peace. The efficiency of these strategies, from the point of view of the perpetrators – Israel, USA, France, or Russia – relies on depriving the victims of globalization and the dispersion of oppression any possibility of globalizing the awareness of their suffering, by removing their rights and material chance of escape or seeking asylum, as well as imposing upon them a security discourse that criminalizes all anti-imperialist resistance. This can be illustrated very well in the situation of the Kurds in Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria. Although the Pentagon has supported them in their fight against Daesh, the Kurds’ political and armed structures remain listed as terrorist organizations in the US and the EU. Depending on the vagaries of the ever-changing political landscape, those fighting against jihad may find themselves without any notice next to their enemy in the sights of the “civilized world,” today still represented by the likes of President Erdoğan.
6. Circulating Identities
The mobility of capital has been destroying genuine communities and societies, while bringing into existence virtual communities. Indeed, it is only on that level that some forms of communality are able to develop to the full. The circulation of images, collective phantasms, visual culture, and the cultures of memory have all gone hand in hand with the expansion of the politics of identity. We can observe it in Poland today, in the spectacular success of the concept “the Polish Nation” – with its purity, greatness, and innocence supposedly offering compensation for the country’s history that has abounded in failure as well as for the current frustrations that stem from the promises of neoliberalism failing to materialize.
The politics of identity have a particular impact on immigrant communities. With the neoliberal countries withdrawing from ensuring social cohesion and aiming for integration, and faced with the destabilization of the accessible labor market, migrants have been losing an opportunity for subjectification on the basis of a class conflict, as well as support through trade unions. Under such circumstances, class divisions have been substituted by identity divisions, imposed by capital within the framework of the segmentation of the work force.
Migrants from the Middle East or Poland have very limited access to stable work places that would allow them to participate in the benefits of growth and public services, as well as opening the opportunities for becoming socialized through democracy. As members of the precariat, deprived of any bargaining power in the workplace, they have problems with class solidarity both in relation to other sectors of the workforce or within their own sectors of employment. For this reason, they replace class solidarity with tribal (ethnic or religious) solidarity, which in turn limits them to the private space of their family and an abstract universal concept of their nation, Catholicism or the Muslim umma.
Fundamentalism and xenophobia are to a large extent a product of deterritorialization and virtuality of the community – whether religious, national, or ethno-cultural identity. Only when detached from the tangible territory, does this identity become pure, cleansed of alien imports that inevitably appear through history, and the imperfections of concrete political and social forms. The British anthropologist Arjun Appadurai described the mechanism of the creation of immigrant identity before the Internet era, when the carriers of such identity were satellite TV, cassettes with ethnic music or religious sermons. Today, it is social media that are the natural habitat of abstract identity, becoming the conduit for the creation of virtual tribes. They are something less, but also something more, than a nation state. They are borderless, their territory – universal cyberspace, and their diaspora – its members strewn all over the world. Due to the abstract character of these social media networks, they should be regarded as a singular manifestation of universalism. Virtual ethno-religious identities are not contained within borders; for this reason, they are usually mediated through hostility towards and exclusion of strangers.
The best example of such exclusive universal identity is the jihadism of the so-called Islamic State. To a large extent, it has been imported from Western Europe and internet identity networks. The vision of a Caliphate created by jihadists is totally detached from the reality of concrete societies in the Middle East. It has been born out of criticism of real Islam and its practices influenced by local cultures; it therefore pays no heed to limitations that stem from history and the geographic context of the region. It is a visual and symbolic expression of the nomadic war machine of Daesh, which treats territories more or less in the same way that private equity funds treat the companies they take over: exploiting them militarily, symbolically and economically, and finally – under pressure from the intervening superpowers – leaving them behind. Perhaps it is this comparison between an organization of fans of a return to the 12th century (thought up, of course, by complete historical ignoramuses, inspired by the aesthetics of role-playing and fantasy games) and the super-aggressive mutations of financial investment markets that is the best explanation for the vitality of Daesh and its resistance to all blows dealt to it.
7. How Does Resistance Circulate and What Blocks Its Path?
Resistance often tries to block directly the mobility of capital in order to unblock social movement. In 2011, such activity took place in the cities of North Africa, USA, and Europe. In recent decades, capitalism has fundamentally transformed the function and form of urban space, subjugating it to the requirements of the latest forms of accumulation and transforming into desocialized communication hubs, reducing them to an urbanist framework for the flow of goods, symbols, financial assets, and cars. Communications infrastructure has replaced the residential and associative functions of the city. Empty housing estates, which play the role of bricks-and-mortar security, multi-lane motorways that cut through the urban fabric, the centers dominated by business and trade-focused architecture – all this has resulted in the disappearance of communal space. And it was precisely the reclaiming of that space that was at stake in the occupation of the main squares of Barcelona, Madrid, Madison, Tunis, Cairo, and Athens. As the French urbanist and politologist Max Rousseau noted, the Occupy movement correctly interpreted how the mechanism of accumulation has been reflected in the organization of urban space, and it adapted its own strategy accordingly. Rather than picket the headquarters of the authorities, subjugated to the financial corporations and developers, Occupy struck directly at the heart of the system, blocking – physically and symbolically – the main communication hubs. It turned out that stopping the circulation of capital was the precondition for reclaiming the city and setting in motion the process of resocializing urban space. Today, in 23 Spanish cities, this is the policy that the local governing coalitions that emerged out of the Occupy movement of 2011 have endeavored to implement.
The strategy of blocking the capitalist circulation system is also a trademark of the native populations taking action against the construction of mines and pipelines on their land, more and more frequent not only in Peru, Ecuador, China, and India but also in the USA. As Naomi Klein points out, local or traditional communities have become the forefront of the global resistance to the new extractivism. Global links that connect open-cast mining with markets in natural resources, industrial zones, and trade networks are the core of the system that has been brutally expelling millions from the land where they have been living. Pipelines cut up these territories into ever smaller pieces. Blocking their construction is thus striking at their most sensitive spot, and at the same time a matter of life or death for the communities under threat from extractivism.
Today we observe and participate in yet another replay, this time on a global scale, of the conflict between capital and labor. In fact, ideology has been revitalized for the purposes of this conflict: Islamophobia, xenophobia, and cultural racism – a full range of tools for segregating the effects of economic inequality by turning them into identity categories. This is not only about the fueling of irrational social fears and political exploitation of them in order to monetize them, but also, or perhaps especially so, the aim is to paralyze migrant labor, to dispossess it of all demands and bargaining power in order to subjugate it to a regime of low wages and use it to undermine the position of the entire workforce in European countries.
The liberalization of exchange, financial deregulation, free flow of investment streams, and the circulation of delocalized factories are ways of salvaging the profit ratios in the face of increasing problems with accumulation and falling profitability indicators and gross GDP. Whether they will bring tangible benefits to capital depends on the success of the various immobilization strategies. The profit achieved in the era of neoliberal stagnation comes directly from the work of those who are not allowed to circulate. Only until it does not, however. For conflict follows in the footsteps of capital in search of new fields for exploitation. The circulation of investment entails the circulation of class struggle. After the honeymoon of special economic zones that are the new hubs for global supply chains, there often comes a storm. When migrant labor that hails from rural areas gets over the shock of the new, urban surroundings, it begins to make demands. Today, this is the case with the Chinese and Indian workers who came from the rural interior; in the 1960s and 1970s, the peasants turned proletarian in the Italian south or what was once Galicia in Poland went through a similar process in the 20th century.
Let us not fall for appearances. The processes taking place in the global South are not merely a run-of-the-mill catching up on the part of backward nations. There is quite a different mechanism, related to the new manifestations of polarization within global capitalism. It has its equivalent in Poland, for one – a country that following its entry into the EU underwent a secondary industrialization and proletarianization due to the country establishing itself as semi-peripheral in the international – and especially European – division of labor.
Government strategies are therefore met by the resistance of new social movements, whose structures, aims, and motivation reflect the reality of destabilization, insecurity, and dispossession of the subordinate classes, pushed into the position of those who “have no right to have rights” – whether social, trade union, environmental, residential, educational, or related to their pensions. Notwithstanding all the differences, this is a new manifestation of the same resistance that was put up by the victims of primary accumulation described in the first volume of Marx’s Capital. Today, however, the conditions and aims of the struggle have changed. What is at stake is not only the defense of the traditional way of living, threatened by the process of accumulation – albeit this is indeed the case for the three billion peasants in the South. The point is to overcome the logic of compulsory labor and unblock the potential for autonomic mobility of the subordinate classes in order to allow the circulation of what had hitherto been unable to circulate – forms of resistance, subjectivity, solidarity, co-operation, self-governance, and emancipation.
Translated from Polish by Anda MacBride
Przemysław Wielgosz is a journalist, columnist, publisher, and activist. He is the editor-in-chief of the Polish edition of Le Monde diplomatique and serves as editor of two book series: ‘biblioteka Le Monde diplomatique’ [‘Le Monde diplomatique library’] and ‘biblioteka alternatyw ekonomicznych’ [‘the library of economic alternatives’]. He is the author, co-autor and editor of few books, i.a. Opium globalizacji (The Opium of Globalisation, Warsaw 2004), Koniec Europy, jaką znamy (The End of Europe As We Know It, Warsaw 2013), TTIP – pułapka translatlantycka (TTIP – A Transatlantic Trap, Warsaw 2014), Realny kapitalizm (The Real Capitalism, Warsaw 2018), Atlas Planetarnej Przemocy (An Atlas of Planetary Violence, Warsaw 2018). He co-curated an exhibition Uchodzcy, obecni/nieobecni (Refugees, present/absent; galeria księgarnia/wystawa Fundacji Razem Pamoja, Cracow 2016). He curated program Przeciw-praca (Counter-labor) as part of the Atlas of Planetary Violence of the Warsaw Biennale and Department of Presence of MSN (Warsaw 2018). His writings has been published in Przekrój, Rzeczpospolita, Tygodnik Powszechny, Dziennik Opinii, Aspen Review, Freitag, and The Guardian.
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* Cover photo: Varanasi's Brick Kiln Workers. Working in the brick kiln carries certain skin conditions and lung diseases. Author: Rajesh Kumar Singh, 2014, digital photography. Courtesy of the artist.