Showing posts with label wage slavery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wage slavery. Show all posts

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Throw off the chains!

Many are not in trade unions and many in their desperation have turned on the union as the cause of their misery. Why should they side with their employers? Why enrich the boss who has the power to dismiss you at will?

Because you get a wage, and that wage suffices to keep you working for the capitalist and you can pay the rent and get fed. You have been turned into a wage-slave. He belongs to another class, the ruling class,  and you belong to the lower class, the subservient class. You are in an overwhelming majority and they only a few yet, they own practically everything and rule the land. And they will keep on owning and ruling the land as long as you  allow them to; and you will allow them to as long as you persist in voting for their politicians, instead of uniting and acting solidly with and for each other and against the capitalists. It is because of your ignorance that you don’t understand your own interest and  believe you need rulers to control you. But you don’t need them. The working class do all the producing and manufacturing. The bosses could not exist second without you. A capitalist without workers cannot exist. While the capitalist could not exist without you, however, you could do just fine and would actually begin to live without them.

Capitalism is based upon the exploitation of the working class; and when the working class ceases to be exploited, there will no longer be any capitalists. What has the investor of a factory got  to do with its operation? Absolutely nothing. They simp1y live off the profits and dividends of what is produced there, because you will allow it to be so. He does nothing and gets everything, and you do everything and get nothing. Some deal! Without you society would cease. Society does not need the idle capitalists. They are parasites. They are worse than useless. They simply take what you make, leaving you in poverty. You make  things in great abundance, but you cannot possess them. You can only consume that part of your product which your wage, the price of your labor power, will buy.

If you think  that you ought to have a master to rob you of what you produced—if you think that you are so helpless that you would die unless you had a master to give you a job and take from you all except just enough to keep you working for him; if you think that workers ought to fight each other; if you think that unity, the unity of the union  would be a bad thing for the working class; if you think that your interest is identical with the interest of the capitalist who robs you; if you think that you ought to be in slavish submission to the capitalist who does nothing and gets what you produce; if you think that, then certainly you are a happy wage-slave. As an individual worker you cannot escape from wage-slavery. It is true that one in a million  may become a capitalist but he is the exception that proves the rule. The wage worker in the capitalist system remains the wage worker. There is no escape for you from wage-slavery by yourself.

Having said you cannot alone break out of chains, if you will unite with all other workers who are in the same position that you are;if you will join the organization that represents your whole class, you can develop the power that will achieve your freedom and the equal freedom of all.  No matter who or what a worker may be, if he or she works for wages they are in precisely the same economic position that you are, your class; your comrade.

The Socialist Party has declared war upon the capitalist class, and upon the capitalist system. We say: Arise! It is in your power to put an end to this exploitation. Make yourselves the masters instead of being the slaves to the machine. Abolish the wage system, so that you can be free.  Build the houses and live therein;  plant the orchards and vines and eat the fruit thereof. The workers who sustain and maintain the world, will take possession of the world and turn all into the common property of all. This is the meaning of socialism and is what the Socialist Party stands for. Our demand is modest: We demand the Earth for all the people.

Adapted from here 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Scottish Wage Slavery

Although Scots speak of Scotland as “our” country and millions of Scotsmen have died or have been mutilated over the centuries in defence of what they called “their” country, as a matter of fact Scotland does not belong to the whole of the Scottish people, but to a comparative few. How many Scots can point to a particular part of the map of Scotland and say “this is mine”? The greatest portion of Scotland is divided among a few great landlords.

Scotland is spoken of as a wealthy country by proponents of nationalism. Does that mean that the Scottish people as a whole are well off? By no means. Some are immensely rich, most merely get by with a bare living, and large number are degradingly poor. The land, factories and transport, all the means of producing the nation’s wealth, are owned by the landlord/capitalist class. In capitalist Scotland, production is carried on not for the purpose of supplying the needs of the people but for the purpose of sale in order to realise a profit. Only those who have something to sell can get a living.

The working class have nothing to sell but their labour power. They sell their labour power to an employer for a price, that is, wages. Since one cannot separate labour power from one’s body it comes down to this, that a workers actually sells themselves like a slave. Socialists describe it as wage-slavery. In Scotland the average a worker is not more than a few weeks removed from penury. The Scottish worker know that year of honest sweat and persistent toil and bring them nothing worth holding on to, nothing worth fighting for. Yet, deep down in their foolish hearts they believe they have a country. Oh, the blind vanity of slaves!

What does Scottish capitalism offer the worker? A life of toil, and a bare subsistence. Always the fear of unemployment. A drab, colourless existence and, when unable to earn our keep any longer, to be thrown on the scrap-heap. In an independent Scotland , nationalists say “there will be change” and that “things will be different”. But capitalism will remains in existence, the worker will still remain subject to the capitalist. There will still be riches and leisure for the few yet drudgery and poverty for the many. Mansions for the idle rich, slum housing for the workers. An independent Scotland can offer its workers nothing but wage slavery. Independence does not make a wage-slave free . There has neverexisted a truly free and democratic nation in the world.

No master ever had any respect for his slave. The capitalist for whom you work doesn’t have to go out and look for you; you have to seek out him, and you belong to him just as completely as if he had legal title to your body; as if you were his chattel slave. He doesn’t own you under law, but he does under the fact. Why? Because he owns the means by which you work and if you don’t work you don’t eat. He is your boss; he owns your job, takes your product and controls your destiny. You have wants. You have necessities. You cannot satisfy them except by your labour. In a barbarous competitive struggle workers are fighting each other to sell themselves into slavery.

After the American Civil War, the ex-Confederacy plantation owners looked upon the loss of their slaves as a severe blow, but they soon began to see what the North had long since known, that the ownership of land and capital meant the virtual ownership of those who must have access to those instruments or starve. The slaves had been freed but as this freedom did not include freedom of access to the means of livelihood they were still as dependent as ever. Being unable to employ themselves they were compelled to seek employment, or the use of land upon which to live, at the hands of the very class from whom they had been liberated. In either case they were only able to retain barely enough of the product to keep body and soul together. The competition among the newly emancipated for an opportunity to secure a livelihood was so great that their labour-power could be bought for a mere existence wage. The labour-power of the slave thus became a commodity, and like all commodities, its price was determined by its cost of production. The cost of producing labour-power is the cost of the labourer’s keep. The master class were able to secure the necessary labour-power to carry on their industries for merely a subsistence wage for no more than it cost them when they owned the slaves as chattels. Indeed, slavery is not yet abolished. So long as the worker is deprived of property in the instruments of production, so long as his labour-power is a commodity which he is obliged to sell to another, he is not a free being, be he white or black. He is simply a slave to a master and from morning until night is as much a bondsman as any black ever was below Mason and Dixon’s line before the civil war. Slaves are cheaper now and do more work than at any time in the world’s history.

A shopkeeper in order to live must sell his wares for what he can get, but a worker in order to live must sell a part of his life, nine, ten, or twelve hours per day, as the case may be. The shopkeeper, if lucky, may get the value of his goods, but the worker cannot get under the capitalist system the value of his labour; he must accept whatever wage those who are unemployed are willing to accept at his job. This is what is called wage-slavery, because under it the worker is a slave who sells himself for a wage with which to buy his rations, which is the only difference between this system and chattel slavery where the master bought the rations and fed the slave himself. There is only one remedy for this slavery of the working class, and that remedy is socialism a system of society in which the land, factories, workshops, and everything necessary for work shall be owned and operated as common property

Today there is nothing so easily produced as wealth. The whole earth consists of raw materials and with solar, wind and water power, by the touch of a button from the merest child, these can be set into operation to transform these raw materials into wealth, the finished products, in all their multiplied forms and in opulent abundance for all, wealth enough for a community. There is no excuse for poverty today yet it is a scourge for most living in a chronic state of poverty. Workers can change this by making up their minds that it shall be changed.

There is one way to attain that end, and that way is for the working class to establish a political party of its own, resolved to use all the power of the workers against their oppressors.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Tough at the top? Not really

Capitalists love touting the benefits of trickle-down economics. It is a rationalization of inequality. By linking the welfare of the working-class  directly to the prosperity of the rich, they can protect the interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash.

The investment banking hierarchy is essentially a large bureaucracy. At the bottom are the manual unskilled maintenance staff like security guards, the janitors and the cleaners who keep the offices safe and warm and clean. Then there are the administrative assistants, who support several bankers at one time and make about $35,000 a year. Above them are the analysts, college graduates whose life consists of 120-hour work weeks and an endless stream of menial tasks for $65,000 to $90,000 a year. Next up, and supported by the analysts, are the associates -- freshly minted MBAs with more than a $100,000 in school loans hanging over them -- who can look forward to taking home between $100,000 and $175,000 a year. If these young men and women, who work 90-hour weeks while trying to juggle a family, survive long enough to become vice presidents, their compensation can rise to $200,000-$300,000 per year.

Above the vice presidents are the directors, which is a training zone for the next pay grade (or a graveyard for those who don't have what it takes). Directors rely on the workers below them to do all the grunt work, including research, financial analysis, and client presentations, while they mainly babysit clients and occasionally come up with ideas to pitch to them. Their pay for these relatively cushy tasks ranges from $350,000 to $500,000 per year; but even this is meager compared to what their superiors make. Managing directors, who work even less and spend more time golfing instead, can make anywhere from a million to several million dollars a year.

Finally you have the really big fish -- the CEOs, presidents, executive vice presidents, and others who manage the entire circus, think deep thoughts, and schmooze with politicians to get regulations loosened. What makes these gigs so coveted is not just the fact that few ever manage to join that echelon but that the pay-scale jumps to tens of millions of dollars (even hundreds of millions) per year for work that is only moderately more challenging than that of the managing directors. It may be lonely at the top, but it's  lucrative.

It should be clear from the above that the wealth generated in these organizations gathers mainly at the top of the pyramid, while the people at the bottom, who do a lot of the heavy lifting and are instrumental in building that wealth, receive only a fraction of those riches. Sure, the pay scales in investment banking are pretty good by the standards of other industries, but it is the proportional difference between the compensation at the top and the bottom that makes a difference. This large income gap leads to an exponentially faster accumulation of wealth in a few hands, which in turn widens the prosperity gap even more. In other words, prosperity is not really trickling down but trickling up.

The more wealth trickles up in the capitalist system, the more it frustrates those at the bottom -- without whose efforts that wealth could not be created in the first place.

Taken from here

Monday, December 03, 2012

Wage slavery or liberation from toil

Overall real wages have scarcely budged in the 1990s in America, and earnings for college-educated workers actually declined by more than 6 percent. Productivity per person-hour increased by 5 percent between 2009 and 2010. 

These days, workers are expected to be on call 24/7—24 hours per day, seven days per week. Seen in this light, innovations like flexi-time or working from home are in fact strategies to bring new sorts of workers—mostly women—into the job market and to subject them to a new set of (frequently electronic) rules and controls.

Think about it. Fifteen years ago, would you have taken a job if you had to be available every day, respond to messages from your boss late at night, and maintain contact with the office while on vacation?  But today just about any job, especially the good ones, exhibit precisely this oppressive 24/7 character. At the same time technology has redefined labor into assembly-line piecework and new gadgets have allowed our less inviting piecework tasks to follow us home, filling family time, distracting our leisure time. Innovative machines bind us more tightly to our jobs while forcing us to work longer hours.

Historian Jackson Lears said in a recent interview, “Whatever the color of your collar, your job may still be ‘proletarian’ to the extent that management controls the pace, process, and output of your work.”

Corporate executives urge a drive toward efficiency—efficiency that can be best defined as low wages. Technology in the workplace holds out the promise of more time, but as we have seen, increased productivity— more output; fewer hours—benefits only the bottom lines of corporate profits wrung from the decreased cost of labor. High-tech machines enable fewer workers to do more while transforming complex artisanal tasks into piecework. Americans love to shop for bargain commodities, of course, but corporations also shop for labor, and modern technology and communication force workers to compete with lower-paid counterparts in Singapore, India, and China. Even here in the United States, an auto assembly job that pays $28 an hour in Michigan will pay half that in South Carolina. The workplace is being transformed by technologies deployed by corporations in the pursuit of efficiencies, increased productivity, and increased profit. “Productivity Hits All-Time High” may be a pleasing headline to the employing class , but Less-in/More-out is scarcely good news for workers.

Automation not only displaces jobs but change the very character of work itself. This may result in the alienated working class taking revolt but, fearful and discontented, they may also well turn toward authoritarian, simple-solution demagogue leaders expousing contempt for democracy and nationalistic xenophobia. This is already happening in the United States where state legislatures are bearing down on workers' rights and immigrants. 

Socialists have to counter with a real alternative to wage-slavery. John Ruskin wrote, “In order that people may be happy in their work, three things are needed. They must be fit for it. They must not do too much of it. And they must have a sense of success in it.”

Taken from here 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scottish Slavery

"It wisnae us"

At the beginning of the 18th century, Glasgow was a poor town and Scotland, an isolated country. The 1707 Act of Union opened up trading opportunities and entrepreneurs seized their opportunity. The economic boom in the 18th and 19th century was built on profits from the West Indies, "...ultimately, profits built from slavery." according to James Cant, a Scottish historian re-examining the emergence of Scotland as an economic powerhouse. "We look at the agrarian revolution in Scotland, the scientific development, and we look at entrepreneurial excellence in Scotland. We never looked at the other side of the ocean to where the raw material and the wealth were truly coming from."

Iain Whyte, author of Scotland and the Abolition of Slavery, insists we have at times ignored our guilty past. He said: "For many years Scotland's historians harboured the illusion that our nation had little to do with the slave trade or plantation slavery. We swept it under the carpet. This was remarkable in the light of Glasgow's wealth coming from tobacco, sugar and cotton, and Jamaica Streets being found in a number of Scottish towns and cities. For many years, the goods and profits from West Indian slavery were unloaded at Kingston docks in Glasgow."

One of Scotland's foremost philosophers of the Enlightenment, David Hume, declared:
"I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilised nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences."

Slavery has been dubbed "the most profitable evil in the world". It is estimated that 20,000,000 African people were bought or captured in Africa and transported into New World slavery. 75% of all Africa's exports in 18th century were enslaved human beings. Only about half survived to work on the plantations, with a slave's life expectancy averaging a mere four years. Young Scotsmen rushed to the West Indies to make quick fortunes as slave masters and administrators. Many Scots overseers were considered among the most brutal. There are many examples of mistreatment and abuse of enslaved Africans by Scots. The conduct of these Scots was often shocking – but this should not be surprising because we know that "under certain conditions and social pressures, ordinary people can commit acts that would otherwise be unthinkable".

It did not become illegal to own a slave in Scotland until 1778. Until then it had been fashionable for wealthy families to have a young black boy or girl servant. Scottish newspapers, such as the Edinburgh Evening Courant and the Caledonian Mercury from the 1740s to the 1770s, carried adverts offering slaves for sale or rewards for the capture of escaped slaves.

Many of our industries, our schools and our churches were founded from the profits of African slavery. Scottish capitalists reaped the fruits of their labour in the colonies in the sugar, cotton and tobacco plantations. These industries saw Glasgow and much of the country flourish, were built on the backs of slaves. The profits slaves helped to create kick-started the industrial revolution in Scotland and brought it's merchants and traders great wealth. Familiar names such as Tate and Lyle was built on slavery. James Ewing of Glasgow who owned Caymanas sugar plantation in Jamaica built the Necropolis.

Scotland dominated the Virginian tobacco market. By 1720 Glasgow imported over half of all the American slave-grown tobacco. The "Tobacco Lords" made their fortunes in the colonies before returning to Scotland, many building large mansions. Tobacco made up over one third of Scotland’s imports and over half its exports. This trade was fantastically profitable and tobacco traders became some of the richest men in the world. Landowners had an interest in the tobacco trade and had the money to invest in ships. The noveau riche behaved outrageously with their new-found fortune. The Trongate in Glasgow’s Merchant City was their own private street. It was paved. They did not want to walk on muddy roads with the riff-raff as it would ruin their outfits. Poor people were beaten if they used the Trongate. Buchanan Street was named after a tobacco merchant called Andrew Buchanan.

The "Wee" Free Church was founded in 1843 . It raised some funds from slave-owning Presbyterian churches in the United States. Many people felt that the Free Church was therefore sympathetic to the slave-owners and opposed to the emancipation of the slaves. "Send back the money" became a popular rallying cry. The Church of Scotland did not petition Parliament to end the Slave Trade or Slavery.

Even schools have a dark history. Bathgate Academy was built from money willed by John Newland, a renowned slave master and Dollar and Inverness Academies had a similar foundation of being funded by West Indies profits.

A host of other buildings and institutions Glasgow The Gallery of Modern Art (Stirling Library) was originally built by tobacco merchant William Cunningham as his home. Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Harmony House, Inveresk Lodge, were either bought or built using money acquired from slavery.

In St Andrew Square in Edinburgh there is a monument toHenry Dundas, who prolonged British slavery in the Caribbean by stopping MPs voting for its abolition. He also tried to reverse the independence process in Haiti as he feared similar rebellions damaging the economics of British slavery. He selected governors for the slave islands and, as governor of the Bank of Scotland, loaned money to shore up the slave business of his friends. When Wilberforce tried to secure the abolition of the slave trade, Dundas frustrated the process and forced him to add two notorious words to his Bill "gradually abolished". These two words ensured that slavery lasted 31 more years. To achieve abolition,£20 million was also paid in compensation to slave plantation owners in the West Indies - over 40% of the national budget, the equivalent of around £1.12 billion.

Alexander Allerdyce of Aberdeenshire was a slave trader. He took more African slaves to Jamaica than the entire population of Aberdeen at the time.

John Glassford owned 25 ships in nine trading posts in Maryland and eleven in Virginia. By 1775, Glassford controlled more than half the Clyde. He helped finance the Forth and Clyde canal. He set up the Fowlis Academy, a school for art and design.

By 1800 there were 10,000 Scots in Jamaica. Scottish surnames such as Douglas, Robinson, Reid, Russell, Lewis, McFarlane, McKenzie, McDonald, Grant, Gordon, Graham, Stewart, Simpson, Scott, Ferguson, Frazer and Farquharson are common in Jamaica. Many of the slave plantations were given Scottish names such as Monymusk, Hermitage, Hampden, Glasgow, Argyle, Glen Islay, Dundee, Fort William, Montrose, Roxbro, Dumbarton, Old Monklands and Mount Stewart. In 1817 Scots owned almost a third of all the slaves in Jamaica.

Enslaved Scots

Startling as it may sound, the slavery of the native Scot continued longer than that of the black slave. In 1606, an Act was passed, which ordained that no person should fee, hire, or conduce any salters, colliers, or coal-bearers without a sufficient testimonial from the master whom they had last served, and that any one hiring them without such testimonial was bound, upon challenge within a year and a day by their late master, to deliver them up to him, under a penalty of £100 for each person and each act of contravention, the colliers, bearers, and salters so transgressing and receiving wages to be held as thieves and punished accordingly. The colliers and salters were unquestionably slaves. They were bound to continue their service during their lives, were fixed to their places of employment, and sold with the works to which they belonged. It had been the rule for the collier and his family to live and be cared for and die on the estate on which he was born. Up till the year 1661, colliers and salters were the only workers to whom the Act applied, but in that year an addition made embracing other colliery workers - named watermen, windsmen, and gatesmen. An Act passed in 1672, for the establishment of correction-houses for idle beggars and vagabonds, authorized "coal-masters, salt-masters, and others, who have manufactories in this kingdom, to seize upon any vagabonds or beggars wherever they can find them, and to put them to work in the coal-heughs or other manufactories, who are to have the same power of correcting them and the benefit of their work as the masters of the correction-houses.

So completely did the law of Scotland regard them as a distinct class, not entitled to the same liberties as their fellow-subjects, that they were excepted from the Scotch Habeas Corpus Act of 1701. In 1775 their condition attracted the notice of the legislature, and an act was passed for their relief . Its preamble stated that "many colliers and salters are in a state of slavery and bondage" and that their emancipation "would remove the reproach of allowing such a state of servitude to exist in a free country." But so deeply rooted was this hateful custom, that Parliament did not venture to condemn it as illegal. It was provided that colliers and salters commencing work after the 1st of July 1775, should not become slaves; and that those already in a state of slavery might obtain their freedom in seven years, if under twenty-one years of age; in ten years, if under thirty-five. The Act imposed so many conditions to be observed by those to be freed, such as they were obliged to obtain a decree of the Sheriff's Court that little advantage was taken of it. Moreover, many of the masters were not disposed to give up their old rights without a struggle, and they sought to retain their hold on the workers by advancing money which the poor colliers were too ready to accept and with the advances being kept up as debts against them the colliers were rarely in a condition to press their claims to freedom. Hence the act was practically inoperative. But eventually in 1799, their freedom was established by law

The White Slave Cargo

White servants came to the Colonies and the Caribbean before most of the African slaves. Large numbers of Scottish people were sent to the colonies largely against their will in the 17th and 18th centuries. Mainstream histories refer to these labourers as indentured or bonded servants, not slaves, because many agreed to work for a set period of time in exchange for land and rights. However, the term slavery applies to any person who is bought and sold, chained and abused, whether for a decade or a lifetime. Excerpts from wills show how white servants would be passed down along with livestock and furniture. During that indenture period the servants were not paid wages, but they were provided food, room, clothing. Indentures could not marry without the permission of their owner, were subject to physical punishment (like many young ordinary servants), and saw their obligation to labour enforced by the courts. To ensure uninterrupted work by the female servants, the law lengthened the term of their indenture if they became pregnant. One could buy and sell indentured servants' contracts, and the right to their labour would change hands.

Many early settlers died long before their indenture ended or found that no court would back them when their owners failed to deliver on promises. And many never achieved their freedom with many of the labourers dying before their 4 to 7 years were complete due to the harsh conditions and the often brutal treatment by the plantation owners. Those that survived often remained in the Caribbean and became managers and overseers.

Convicted criminals and political prisoners, including religious nonconformists, were also sent to the colonies as a workforce. In the late 17th century the religious turmoil in Scotland produced a regular supply of indentured labourers.Covenanters and Scottish royalists captured by Cromwell after battle were sold as indentured labourers to the West Indies. In 1666 the city fathers of Edinburgh shipped off "beggars, vagabonds and others not fitt to stay in the kingdome" to Virginia in the Phoenix of Leith under Captain James Gibson. The Scots Privy Council also saw indentured labour as an opportunity to get rid of undesirables and those guilty of certain crimes, and they regularly sent people to Virginia as a punishment rather than keep them in jail.

Ultimately indentured labour did not bring the profit desired. For example, the cost of indentured labor rose by nearly 60 percent throughout the 1680s in some colonial regions. A cheaper source of labour was sought and the plantation owners quickly realised the potential profit that could be made from buying and selling Africans, grasping the opportunity of using a malleable renewable labour force. When slaves arrived in greater numbers after 1700, white labourers became a privileged status and assigned to lighter work and more skilled tasks.

Wage Slavery

It was only when economists like Adam Smith suggested slavery hampered freedom of enterprise that the argument took hold that it was no longer financially viable. It was about economics. Now it was the turn of wage slavery to chain people.

Those who defended the slavery and indentured labour described how owners had to feed, clothe and shelter their enslaved workers and how this made them better off than labourers in the factories in Europe since the factory workers' very small wages hardly kept them in food and clothes and shelter. Capitalist factory-owners needed a flexible labour force and a reserve of workers they could draw on in times of expansion and who could be discarded in times of slump. They did not want to own their workers, precisely because they wanted, when business took a downturn, to be free of any obligation to maintain them as they would have had to with chattel slaves. They favoured “free” labour. They were only interested in buying their workers’ ability to work for a limited period. “Free” labour meant more than that the worker was just not a chattel slave. It meant that he or she was also not tied to the land either as a peasant or a serf. It means that the only productive resource they own is their ability to work, their labour-power, which they are “free” to sell to some capitalist employer or other. Socialists regard labour as free only where the labourers themselves individually or collectively own and control the means by which they labour (land, tools, machinery, etc.).

The legal, social and political status of wage-slaves is superior to that of chattel slaves. However, when we compare their position in the labour process itself, we see that here the difference between them is not a fundamental one. A wage or a salary is the price of the human commodity labour power, the capacity to work. Because workers are compelled to work for their employers for a duration of time, being exploited, the wages system is literally a form of slavery and the working class are wage slaves. We are all compelled to obey the orders of the “boss” who owns the instruments of production with which we work or who represents those who own them. In a small enterprise the boss may convey his orders directly, while in a large enterprise orders are passed down through a managerial hierarchy - overseers. But in all cases it is ultimately the boss who decides what to produce and how to produce it. The products of the labour of the (chattel or wage) slaves do not belong to us. Nor, indeed, does our own activity.

Another obvious difference between chattel slavery and wage slavery is that as a chattel slave you are enslaved – totally subjected to another’s will – at every moment from birth to death, in every aspect of your life. As a wage-slave, you are enslaved only at those times when your labour power is at the disposal of your employer. At other times, in other aspects of your life you enjoy a certain measure of freedom. The wage-slave has some scope for self-development and self-realisation that is denied the chattel slave. Limited to be sure, for the wage-slave must regularly return to the world of wage labour.

According to Engels: "The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must sell himself daily and hourly. The individual slave, property of one master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because of the master's interest. The individual proletarian, property as it were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when someone has need of it, has no secure existence."

It is sometimes objected that wage workers are not slaves because they have the legal right to leave a particular employer, even if in practice they may be reluctant to use that right out of fear of not finding another job. All that this proves, however, is that the wage worker is not the slave of any particular employer. For Marxists, the owner of the wage-slave is not the individual capitalist but the capitalist class. Whether we choose the wages system or not, we are in reality bound to it. We are not by law bound to a single individual, but, in fact, to the capitalist class as a whole. You can leave one employer, but only in order to look for a new one. What you cannot do, lacking as you do access to the means of life, is escape from the thrall of employers as a class – that is, cease to be a wage-slave.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave, born on a Maryland plantation in 1817 makes it clear in his book My Bondage and My Freedom:
"In the country, this conflict is not so apparent; but, in cities, such as Baltimore, Richmond, New Orleans, Mobile etc; it is seen pretty clearly. The slave-holder with a craftiness peculiar to themselves, by encouraging the enmity of the poor, labouring white men against the blacks, succeeds in making the said white men almost as much a slave as the black slave himself. The difference between the white slave, and the black slave, is this: the latter belongs to ONE slave-holder, and the former belongs to ALL the slave-holders, collectively. The white slave has taken from his, by indirection, what the black slave had taken from him, directly, and without ceremony. Both are plundered, and by the same plunderers"

With slavery the workers themselves become commodities, they have no rights and are legally the property of the person who controls them. With the wage system the labour power of the worker becomes one of the main commodities in the marketplace. Capitalist social relations emerged with the expropriation of common land by the aristocracy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Enclosures destroyed the lives of thousands of peasant families, turning them into propertyless vagabonds. Deprived of their land, their homes, their traditional surroundings and the protection of the law, the expropriated peasantry were left to sell the one thing they possessed - their ability to work.

The Chartist, Ernest Jones, dismissed the demand for "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work", which was to ask for:
"...a golden slavery instead of an iron one. But that golden chain would soon be turned to iron again, for if you still allow the system of wages slavery to exist, labour must be still subject to capital, and if so, capital being its master, will possess the power and never lack the will to reduce the slave from his fat diet down to fast-day fare!"

The law grants us personal liberties, and we therefore have the right to make our own decisions: where to live; who to work for; or whether to work at all. But underlying this veil of freedom are the real, material, physical facts, and they run as such: you can only live where you can afford to live; you can only work for someone who will willingly employ you; and while you are under no legal obligation to work for anyone at all, you will find it a struggle to live while not doing so.

Noam Chomsky has explained that “the effort to overcome ‘wage-slavery’ has been going on since the beginnings of the industrial revolution, and we haven’t advanced an inch. In fact, we’re worse off than we were a hundred years ago in terms of understanding the issues.”

The Socialist Party appears to be the only political organisation in this country to take this task at all seriously. The Socialist Party do not just want to win a better deal for wage-slaves. We want to abolish slavery. We are the wage-slavery abolitionists! The influence of the capitalist system has ensured that many do not yet understand the necessity for the working class to free itself from slavery. It is a slavery not only of the body but of the mind too and that must be the worst enslavement of all.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Buying and selling people

Celtic have the highest player transfer outlay in the last five years, with a spend of just over £35 million, closely followed by Rangers who have spent around £33 million in the same period. Coming in at a poor third is Hearts who spent almost £3 million.

The teams that are making money from selling their players?

Celtic again leading the way with £35,574,000. Rangers have made sales of just over £20 million. Here is where Hibernian really punch above their weight. The Easter Road side have sold just over £16 million of players in five years and Hearts also sold well, £14 million. So the profits for Hibs have been almost £15million and for Hearts £11 million.

Almost every club in the division has turned a modest profit with the wheeling and dealing of player sales. Hibernian's business model is so focused on bringing through youth players and moving them on for healthy fees. It appears that Scottish football is all about the search of young, marketable talent. Celtic’s transfer balance is interesting, given the figures involved, as they seem to spend exactly what they make, reinvesting the money taken from sales into the playing squad. The club transfer policy seems to be to find players with a sell-on value, put them in the metaphorical shop window, sell them on at a profit and then repeat the process with the proceeds.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who Pays for the Crisis ?

A 100,000 people have taken part in protests in Dublin to vent their anger at the Irish government's handling of the country's recession. They oppose plans to impose a pension levy on 350,000 public sector workers. Reports say the plan could cost the 350,000 public sector workers between 1,500 euros and 2,800 euros (£2,500) a year.
Ireland, which was once one of Europe's fastest-growing economies, has fallen into recession faster than many other members of the European Union. The country officially fell into recession in September 2008, and unemployment has risen sharply in the following months. The numbers of people claiming unemployment benefit in the Irish Republic rose to 326,000 in January, the highest monthly level since records began in 1967.
Trade union organisers of the march said workers did not cause the economic crisis but were having to pay for it.

"I've a mortgage to pay, I've children to put through school, and now I'm being told I have to take cutback, after cutback, after cutback." said one protester

"Our priority is about ensuring that people are looked after, the interests of people are looked after, not the interests of big business or the wealthy," Sally-Anne Kinahan, Irish Congress of Trade Unions secretary general

Grand sentiments from a trade unionist but always there must be added a caveat and it was from Karl Marx - that trade unions can only offer defensive strategies against the encroachments of capital and it is only when the working class recognise that it the abolition of wage labour and the whole stinking system of the capitalism that their real interest will be served .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Video game wage slavery

Nearly half a million people are employed in developing countries earning virtual goods in online games to sell to players, a study has found.

The industry, which is largely based in China, currently employs about 400,000 young people who earn £80 per month on average.

Players in the popular online game World of Warcraft acquire virtual gold by fighting monsters and completing quests.

Some simply buy it from a fast-growing workforce employed to play this and other games. 'Playbourers" , as they are called , sell gold or other virtual goods .

Cash-rich time-poor players employ those willing to work long hours for little reward and it is likely to keep on growing.

In 2007, it was reported by Edward Castronova, an academic studying the economics of online gaming at the University of Indiana, that the real money trade - people paying real cash for virtual items - was worth around $300-$400m. That estimate is surely much higher now .

Friday, January 04, 2008

The ragged trousered philanthropists

Workers in Scotland are doing increasing amounts of unpaid overtime and would receive an extra £4517 a year if they were paid for the additional hours they are putting in, according the STUC.
The number of employees in Scotland working unpaid increased by 20,000 in 2007, bringing the total to 436,000. The average amount of unpaid overtime is six hours and 54 minutes a week.
The STUC has calculated that if everyone in the UK who works unpaid overtime did all their unpaid work at the start of the year, the first day they would get paid would be February 22.
The number of employees working unpaid overtime across the UK increased by 103,000 to nearly five million; about one in five of the working population. The average annual value of unpaid overtime in the UK is £4955 per employee.

"'s figures suggest many people are not even being paid for putting in these extra hours.Workers in Scotland are giving away over £4500 a year in unpaid overtime. That's too much time and money that could be better spent with friends and family..." Grahame Smith, general secretary of the STUC said

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Minimum Wages - Maximum Exploitation

Thousands of workers are being short-changed by firms who refuse to pay the national minimum wage, the TUC found .

Around 150,000 staff are being denied rate of £5.52 an hour for adults and £4.60 for 18 to 21-year-olds, it says. Those in restaurants, hotels, cleaning, hairdressing and childcare were said to be the most likely to be underpaid.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "There should be no hiding place for bosses who are deliberately cheating their workers out of the minimum wage."

Socialist Courier will go further and say all wages and wage labour is theft . That it is slavery . Within capitalism , the fight to improve wages is indispensible but workers should take the next step - campaign to abolish wages .

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wage Slavery

Anti-racism protestors have marched through Glasgow to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.The St Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March, organised by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, will remember the anniversary of the act to abolish the trade. First Minister Alex Salmond has given his support to the rally.Yet we know there still exists to-day another type of slavery - wage slavery