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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…

Monthly Review Volume 73, Number 10 (March 2022)

March 2022 (Volume 73, Number 10)

The struggle over schools today requires battles over both the privatization of education and the current attempts to limit its social content and meaning. Those fighting against this changing totality must align themselves with the embattled radical teachers in the trenches. In the famous words of Grace Lee Boggs, more than a half-century ago, it is necessary to create “a new system of education that will have as its means and its end the development of the great masses of people to govern over themselves and administer over things.” | more…

Johandri Paredes

A Commune Called ‘Che’: A Socialist Holdout in the Venezuelan Andes

The Che Guevara Commune is far removed from the bustle of Venezuela’s huge coastal cities. You reach it by following a steep winding road from the shores of Lake Maracaibo into La Culata National Park. Lush vegetation and tall bucare trees provide good shade for coffee and cacao, which has only begun to be farmed in recent decades in this region, due to the migration triggered by the construction of the Pan-American Highway along the lake’s perimeter in the 1950s. | more…

Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress

What 1930s Radicals Totally Knew: Scott Borchert on the Federal Writers’ Project

Scott Borchert on the Federal Writers' Project

The Great Depression is almost one century old. Today in the United States we remember this international economic collapse, and the suffering it engendered, by reading novels and essays about it, watching plays, viewing paintings—often forgetting that the U.S. government of that time encouraged and financially supported much of this art. Not only art: the Depression was one of the few times that the federal government ever stepped in to help ordinary people get on their feet. | more…

Capitalism in the Anthropocene: Ecological Ruin or Ecological Revolution

Capitalism in the Anthropocene: Ecological Ruin or Ecological Revolution

Over the last 11,700 years, during which human civilization developed, the earth has existed within what geologists refer to as the Holocene Epoch. Now science is telling us that the Holocene Epoch in the geological time scale ended, replaced by a new more dangerous Anthropocene Epoch, which began around 1950. The onset of the Anthropocene Epoch is characterized by an “anthropogenic rift” in the biological cycles of the Earth System, marking a changed reality in which human activities are now the main geological force impacting the earth as a whole, generating at the same time an existential crisis for the world’s population. | more…

5G technology booth

The Political Economy of the U.S.-China Technology War

One of the key components of U.S.-China strategic competition is the technology war, the essence and implications of which can be further understood in the broader context of the international division of labor and the two countries’ internal contradictions. From this front, we can decipher the antagonism between different classes/groups within and across the two countries. | more…

Drivers United

Manipulations of Freedom

The Dirty Fight for Prop 22 and the Gig Economy

On California’s November 2020 ballot were some contentious and important issues, including Proposition 22, classifying rideshare drivers and app-based delivery workers as independent contractors. Gig economy giants Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and others spent a whopping $111 million on Prop 22. Of course, the companies had a lot to lose. If they were made to treat their drivers or delivery people as employees and compensate them accordingly, they would be bankrupted, they claimed. | more…

A Peoples History of Detroit

On Creative Destruction, Myths, and Revolution

It is a testament to the clarity and scope of Mark Jay and Philip Conklin’s vision that A People’s History of Detroit is replete with insights for those trying to make sense of these deeply uncertain and troubling times. In it, Jay and Conklin show that “in order to give a true ‘people’s history,’ one must do more than condemn the malevolence of those in power and celebrate the activists who have struggled for justice; one must also come to terms with the social system in which these people lived. In our case, this means confronting the logic of capital.” | more…