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Political Economy of Labor Repression in the United States
Sat, September 11 @ 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM$7 – $11
with author Andrew Kolin
Andrew Kolin presents a detailed explanation of the essential elements that characterize capital’s relations to the working class and how capital relies on various forms of repressing reform and revolutionary movements by workers. The repression is directly linked to the class struggle between capital and labor. The starting point examines labor repression after the American Revolution. Andrew’s book then follows the role of the state along with the explosive growth of American capitalism to analyze the long history of capital and labor conflict with details of the US state being aligned with the interests of capital throughout American history.
Wholesale exclusion of labor from a fundamental role in framing policy in these institutions was crucial in understanding the unfolding of labor repression. Repression emerges amid a social struggle to acquire and maintain control over policy-making bodies, which pits the few against the many. In response, labor attempts to push back against institutional exclusion in part by the formation of labor unions. Capital reacts to such actions using repression to prevent labor from having a greater role in social institutions. For instance, this is played out inside the workplace as capital and labor engage in a political struggle over the function of the workplace. Given capital’s monopoly of ownership, capital employs various means to repress labor at work, including the introduction of technology, mass firings, crushing strikes, and the use of force to break up unions.
The role of the state is not to be overlooked in its support of elite control over production, as well as aiding through legal means the growth of a capitalist economy in opposition to labor’s conception of greater economic democracy. Andrew’s work explains how and why the working classes will continue to confront repression by capital in old and new forms as we approach the second quarter of the 21st century.
Andrew Kolin is professor of political science at Hilbert College.
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