Workers without Rights (pages 49-76)

Paul Gomberg

ABSTRACT: In the United States the Civil Rights Movement emerging after World War II ended Jim Crow racism, with its legal segregation and stigmatization of black people. Yet black people, both in chattel slavery and under Jim Crow, had provided abundant labor subject to racist terror; they were workers who could be recruited for work others were unwilling to do. What was to replace this labor, which had been the source of so much wealth and power? Three federal initiatives helped to create new workers without rights: the welfare reform law of 1996 and the changes in immigration and crime law and policy both starting in the mid-1960s. These changes re-created vulnerable labor, disproportionately marked and stigmatized as black or Mexican. These workers create a central strength of U.S. imperialism: cheap food. Because workers without rights have an important function in a capitalist economy, a society where all workers can flourish is not capitalist but communist.

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