Political Economy of Labor Repression in the United States

Political Economy of Labor Repression in the United States

by Andrew Kolin

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Overview

This book presents a detailed explanation of the essential elements that characterize capital labor relations and the resulting social conflict that leads to repression of labor. It links repression to the class struggle between capital and labor. The starting point involves an historical approach used to explore labor repression after the American Revolution. What follows is an examination of the role of government along with the growth of American capitalism to analyze capital-labor conflict. Subsequent chapters trace US history during the 19th century to discuss the question of the role assumed by the inclusion/exclusion of capital and labor in political-economic structures, which in turn lead to repression.

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. This book explains how and why labor continues to confront repression in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Editorial Reviews

Anarchist Studies

Notwithstanding a cumbersome structure and a narrative prone to repetition, Kolin makes an important contribution to our understanding of how capital has thwarted labour’s capacity to fulfil one of its historically fundamental aims, that is, workers’ emancipation.

LouAnn Wurst

By focusing explicitly on the issue of labor repression, Kolin brings into stark relief key aspects of the capitalist class struggle in the United States from its inception to contemporary crises. Most important is that he uses this sweeping view of capitalism’s past and present to suggest ways that labor can create a future with true economic democracy where labor repression would be consigned to the past.

CHOICE

Rather than write a comprehensive history of labor in the US, Kolin (Hilbert College) investigates labor repression by looking at events at specific points in time. He views these events entirely through the lens of class conflict between labor and capital and studies the beginnings of repressive policies in the pre-industrial era during and in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution. Then he turns to labor’s response to the rise of the factory system. Next, he shows how workplace policies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries excluded labor from decision making. The reasons for continuing political repression of labor during the expanding economy of the 1920s are investigated. Labor and the New Deal are dealt with next. The role of communists and labor’s role in purging communists from its ranks takes the next two chapters. Capital’s backlash against labor from the 1970s forward is the final historical topic. The author concludes by outlining the steps needed to establish a truly democratic economy in the US. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

Counterpunch

[T]he history detailed in Kolin’s text should be essential knowledge for those hoping to resurrect the necessary and noble endeavor labor unions once were.

Immanuel Ness

Political Economy of Labor Repression in the United States is a comprehensive and rigorous account of the complex history of capital-labor relations from the settler-colonial state to the present era through examining the endless determination of capital and the ruling class to assert dominance and hegemony over a frequently restive and militant working class. This work is a valuable contribution to students of American labor and working class history.

LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

Kolin deserves credit for bringing the story of antiunion repression to the present period through a critique of business unionism, institutional liberalism, and capitalist hegemony.

Daniel E. Saros

This book guides readers through the many oscillations that have occurred in the pattern of efforts to repress American workers from colonial times to the present day. Boldly venturing beyond a detailed description of the past, Dr. Kolin offers his audience hope for a better future built upon an expansion of economic democracy and an extension of social ownership within the world of production.

Anarcho-Syndicalist Review

Kolin has read widely and points to the many ways in which economics and law serve as weapons to preserve the rule of the few.

Choice

Rather than write a comprehensive history of labor in the US, Kolin (Hilbert College) investigates labor repression by looking at events at specific points in time. He views these events entirely through the lens of class conflict between labor and capital and studies the beginnings of repressive policies in the pre-industrial era during and in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution. Then he turns to labor’s response to the rise of the factory system. Next, he shows how workplace policies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries excluded labor from decision making. The reasons for continuing political repression of labor during the expanding economy of the 1920s are investigated. Labor and the New Deal are dealt with next. The role of communists and labor’s role in purging communists from its ranks takes the next two chapters. Capital’s backlash against labor from the 1970s forward is the final historical topic. The author concludes by outlining the steps needed to establish a truly democratic economy in the US. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.

LABOR: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

Kolin deserves credit for bringing the story of antiunion repression to the present period through a critique of business unionism, institutional liberalism, and capitalist hegemony.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498524032
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication date: 11/16/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 436
File size: 1 MB

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