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Work Work Work: Labor, Alienation, and Class Struggle

Work Work Work: Labor, Alienation, and Class Struggle

For most economists, labor is simply a commodity, bought and sold in markets like any other – and what happens after that is not their concern. Individual prospective workers offer their services to individual employers, each acting solely out of self-interest and facing each other as equals. The forces of demand and supply operate so that there is neither a shortage nor a surplus of labor, and, in theory, workers and bosses achieve their respective ends. Michael D. Yates, in Work Work Work: Labor, Alienation, and Class Struggle, offers a vastly different take on the nature of the labor market. | more…

Panopticon

Panopticon

Capitalism’s two main underpinnings are control and exploitation/expropriation. While there are many sites of control they are all generally supportive of the interests of capital, namely, the endless drive to accumulate wealth. They all help to ensure that we behave so that the system continues to reproduce itself. Since workplaces are the sites where profits are extracted from our labor, it is here that control is most critical. | more…

Eddie Conway and Paul Coates on February 20, 2020

These Brothers Chose Well

Writer, editor, and prison activist Susie Day has written a beautiful, heartrending, and inspiring account of the friendship between Paul Coates and Eddie Conway. Both were born in the late 1940s and grew up in Black communities—Paul in Philadelphia and Eddie in Baltimore. Both were members of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and both were harassed by police for their radical activities as Party members. Eddie was wrongfully convicted of killing a Baltimore policeman and spent forty-four years in prison. Through it all, Paul was his steadfast friend and supporter, as well as partner in their political development and commitment to the liberation of Black people in the United States. | more…

Demonstrators gesture as they attend a protest against police brutality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Frankfurt, Germany, June 6, 2020

COVID-19, Economic Depression, and the Black Lives Matter Protests

Will the Triple Crisis Bring a Working-Class Revolt in the United States?

Crisis reveals the fault lines in society. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on our health and killing us in large numbers, bringing with it the most massive and steep economic collapse in U.S. history. Then, there was the murder of George Floyd and the resulting astonishing global protests against racism. Anyone can see that capitalism, facing no real opposition in decades, has reverted to its default position: only profit rules us and those with money will beat down those with none, without mercy or remorse. | more…

Demonstrators participating in the Poor People's March at Lafayette Park and on Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.

It’s Still Slavery by Another Name

As the long history, right to the present day, of police and vigilante violence against black people has shown with great clarity, the racial chasm between black and white people in the United States lives on. A few black men and women have climbed into the 1 percent, and a sizable African-American middle class now exists. But by every measure of social well-being, black Americans fare much worse than their white counterparts. Just as for the economic, political, and social distance between capitalists and workers, so too is there a differential between black and white people, for these same interconnected components of daily life continue because of the way our system is structured. | more…

Can the Working Class Change the World?

Can the Working Class Change the World?

One of the horrors of the capitalist system is that slave labor, which was central to the formation and growth of capitalism itself, is still fully able to coexist alongside wage labor. But, as Karl Marx pointed out, it is the fact of being paid for one’s work that validates capitalism as a viable socio-economic structure. Beneath this veil of “free commerce”—where workers are paid only for a portion of their workday, and buyers and sellers in the marketplace face each other as “equals”—lies a foundation of immense inequality. Yet workers have always rebelled. They’ve organized unions, struck, picketed, boycotted, formed political organizations and parties—sometimes they have actually won and improved their lives. In his timely and innovative book, Michael D. Yates asks if the working class can, indeed, change the world. | more…

Richard Seymour

‘Mourning and Militancy’

Richard Seymour interviewed by Michael D. Yates

There is a degree of unpredictability in politics today that presents opportunities for those who aren’t too constrained by past experience to see them. We’re seeing the possibility of regenerating a left that has previously been ground down to the scale of atoms, one that, if it adapts creatively to the coming defeats, can prepare the ground for success. But that means recognizing that the history of the left is a history of defeats; it is a history of the vanquished. | more…

The Great Inequality by Michael D. Yates

Measuring Global Inequality

It is by now well known that significant and growing economic inequality is a central feature of the U.S. economy, as previous articles in Monthly Review have shown. However, the same is also the case for much of the rest of the world. Inequality arises in other countries for reasons similar to those in the United States, but each nation has its own history, along with widely divergent economic and political structures. Here we will look first at the most recent data on global inequality, and then at its causes and consequences. | more…

On Henry Giroux: Foreword to America’s Addiction to Terrorism

Henry Giroux is a phenomenon. He has written more than sixty books, authored hundreds of essays, won numerous awards, and been an outstanding teacher for nearly forty years.… What distinguishes Giroux’s writing is a combination of lucid analysis and incisive and justifiably harsh criticism of the deterioration of the human condition under the onslaught of a savage modern-day capitalism. However, his examination of this savagery does not stop with a description of the vicious attacks on working people by corporations and their allies in government. Nor is it content to enumerate the economic, political, and social consequences of these assaults, such as the rise in poverty, stagnating wages, unconscionably high unemployment, deteriorating health, the astonishing increase in the prison population, and a general increase in material insecurity to name a few. Instead, he goes beyond these to interrogate the more subtle but no less devastating effects of neoliberal capitalism, and by implication capitalism itself, on our psyches and on our capacity to resist our growing immiseration. | more…