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Migrant workers returning home in a train in Cochin, India.

Global Commodity Chains and the New Imperialism

To comprehend twenty-first-century imperialism we must go beyond analysis of the nation-state to a systematic investigation of the increasing global reach of multinational corporations or the role of the global labor arbitrage. At issue is the way in which today’s global monopolies in the center of the world economy have captured value generated by labor in the periphery within a process of unequal exchange, thus getting “more labour in exchange for less. The result has been to change the global structure of industrial production while maintaining and often intensifying the global structure of exploitation and value transfer. | more…

Monitoring is built in to many of the jobs that form the ‘gig economy’—but surveillance is increasing across the workplace

New Means of Workplace Surveillance

From the Gaze of the Supervisor to the Digitalization of Employees

Workplace surveillance and the invasion of employee privacy have always been present under capitalism. Historically, this has mostly involved the combination of visual observation and abstract time, focusing on employee performance. However, the development of new information and communication technologies has brought important changes to the manner in which employers control employee productivity. Such digitalization or datafication of employees constitutes a qualitative change in the history of workplace surveillance—a change that reduces workers, their performance and bodies, to lines of code and flows of data to be scrutinized and manipulated. | 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…

Farmers fertilizing an aerobic rice field

Rural Communities and Economic Crises in Modern China

Throughout China’s nearly seventy-year history of industrialization and financialization, whenever the cost of an economic crisis could be transferred to the rural sector, capital-intensive urban industries have had a “soft landing” and existing institutional arrangements have been maintained—a pattern that continues today. We argue that Chinese peasants and rural communities have rescued the country from no fewer than ten such economic crises. | more…

Protest against worker precariousness

The New Service Proletariat

From call centers to fast-food restaurants, the future of service work is one of precarious employment, with no stable schedules, wages, benefits, or union representation. Should these workers be considered part of a new service proletariat, or treated as a new class altogether, the “precariat”? | more…

Value Chains: The New Economic Imperialism by Intan Suwandi

Value Chains: The New Economic Imperialism

Forthcoming in August 2019

Winner of the 2018 Paul M. Sweezy – Paul A. Baran Memorial Award for original work regarding the political economy of imperialism, Intan Suwandi’s Value Chains examines the exploitation of labor in the Global South. Focusing on the issue of labor within global value chains—vast networks of people, tools, and activities needed to deliver goods and services to the market and controlled by multinationals—Suwandi offers a deft empirical analysis of unit labor costs that is closely related to Marx’s own theory of exploitation. | more…

Organoponico Vivero Alamar

Cuba’s New Cooperatives

Historians have long documented the ways that capitalism drew its early accumulation from the dispossession of commonly owned resources—a process that continues to this day. Building a socialist society and economy can be thought of as a reversal of this process—a reclaiming of commons. The resources that contribute to human development do so best when shared and governed democratically. This includes not only the forests and fields of the pre-capitalist past, but also education and health care systems, parks and streets, waterways, and the shared culture, knowledge, and productive resources of a society. | more…

Industrial Workers of the World union label

One Big Union, One Long Fight

As the global economy grows increasingly unstable, undermining job security and the dignity of work, the IWW’s pioneering tactics, and perhaps even the union itself, may again be the means by which working people of all walks secure “the good things in life” while building “a new society within the shell of the old.” | more…

Fabricas recuperadas argentinas

Stronger Together?

At their best, worker cooperatives are among the most effective examples of radical democracy in action. A recent vogue for cooperatives as high-tech entrepreneurial endeavors, however, seeks to expand rather than challenge the rule of market economics. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 4 (September 2017)

September 2017 (Volume 69, Number 4)

The publication last month of The Age of Monopoly Capital: The Selected Correspondence of Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, 1949–1964, edited by Nicholas Baran and John Bellamy Foster, constitutes a landmark for Monthly Review Press. A historical document in itself, The Age of Monopoly Capital is not simply about the writing of their magnum opus, but also provides a window onto an entire era of American life. | more…

Workers at Scop-Ti in southern France

The Meaning of Work in a Sustainable Society

The idea of total liberation from work, in its one-sidedness and incompleteness, is ultimately incompatible with a genuinely sustainable society. The real promise of a system of labor beyond capitalism rests not so much on its expansion of leisure time, but rather on its capacity to generate a new world of creative and collective work, controlled by the associated producers. | more…

March to save City College San Francisco (CCSF)

What Happened at CCSF?

Did the accreditation crisis and subsequent labor struggle at City College of San Francisco represent a failure of union democracy, or a hard-won victory against corporate education reform? Rick Baum’s recent article on this question, “A Teachers Union Against Itself” (published the April 2017 issue of Monthly Review) prompted a lively response from AFT Local 2121 members and supporters. This correspondence article collects their letters, as well as a reply by Baum. | more…

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (2nd Ed.)

The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers (Second Edition)

U.S. immigration has been the subject of furious debates for decades. On one side, politicians and the media talk about aliens and criminals, with calls to “deport them all.” On the other side, some advocates idealize immigrants and gloss over problems associated with immigration. Dialogue becomes possible when we dig deeper and ask tough questions: Why are people in other countries leaving their homes and coming here? What does it mean to be “illegal”? How do immigration raids, prisons, and border walls impact communities? Who suffers and who profits from our current system—and what would happen if we transformed it? | more…