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Precarious Work! The Reserve Army of Labour

Precarious Work! The Reserve Army of Labour



hi everyone its Maxie welcome to another video so today we're gonna dive into what was number two in our Twitter poll the global reserve army of the Labour I'd like to give a special shout-out to dr. Jamel Jonah dr. John Bellamy Foster and dr. Robert McChesney for supplying me graciously supplying me with updated facts and just a wealth of insight on these topics if you haven't checked out a monthly review press or M are online I'll link those in the description box below so you can check them out so we've all seen the memes Millennials are ruining every industry imaginable and not buying a house home ownership is a big pipe dream for most they could just restrain themselves and stop binging on Avvo on toast maybe think it says something up for themselves excuse me but I have three degrees and I'm still working contract work for 12 grand a year whereas you entered upper management with a high school diploma and bought a house for 200 grand in but that's a whole other video so why is that why is it that despite all the quote unquote advancement and productivity since the 1970s is becoming increasingly difficult to get a well-paying secure job with benefits and an entire generation of kids are coming out of school today over educated burden with that and facing an increasingly precarious job market where there's nothing but low-skilled low-wage part-time contract work short answer to that is capitalism the long explanatory answer to follow so this is the part of the program where I plug basically all of my previous videos but most of all the sweatshop video and the video on crisis finance and stagnation because all of these topics really fit together so previously we learned that competition under capitalism actually tends towards monopoly power where the big fish eat the little fish and try to capture the biggest market share one major arena corporations compete to increase their profit margins and increase their market share is by lowering the cost of production this can be done by innovating new technology and automating things so that you actually just displaced workers entirely or make them redundant or it could be by outsourcing your production to somewhere in the globe where people will do it much much cheaper or through cutting costs environmentally which as we've also discussed is just a disaster so in the sweatshop video we learned that it was largely the deregulation of trade barriers through the neoliberal era like the 70s and the 80s that allowed for much of this offshoring to occur this set up a situation where capital is free to move but labor is not and so workers anywhere in the world in the quote/unquote developed world in the quote-unquote developing world I know these categories are not good first world third world workers anywhere in the world if they organized and they try to demand better rights better work conditions better pay guess what capital is free to move somewhere else where they can get their work done for cheaper and keep their profit margins rising so labor here has a very little leverage and remember again that we talked about neoliberal policies being a fix for the crises of capitalism a couple of them itself is once again the driving force behind all of these terrible things so in my special video I got several comments or several people asking me you know don't you realize that these people need jobs if Apple's sweatshops weren't there then what would they be doing you know they they need and they want these sweatshop jobs like these sweatshops are helping we're gonna take a look at the reasons why people are increasingly finding themselves in situations that are so for curious that they must accept shitty low pay work just to be able to feed themselves one way that capitalism produces this vast low-wage workforce is through big land grabs in the global south basically a big agribusiness conglomerates buy up huge swaths of land then kick off the peasants or the smallholder farmers who are then driven in droves into the urban slums desperate for work once again this is an example of primitive accumulation jargon but basically people get kicked off their land they lose the means of production they lose the means of subsistence and feeding themselves and so yes they are desperate for whatever job they can take but this is part and parcel of the spatiality as of capitalism itself so it becomes ridiculous to say that sweatshops are helping our sweatshops are the answer so the deep peasant ization of all these people in the quote unquote global south combined with the integration of the workforce of all the actually existing socialist countries since the 1980s has led to a boom in the global workforce once again most of this is a low-skilled low-wage work where companies are going up in the most easily exploitable populations like women and children because they know they can pay them the least so why does this matter why does it matter that the pool of labour is growing bigger and bigger and what does that tell us about the future of capitalism or capitalism its ability to meet our needs as a system going forward the answer is in the general law of capitalist accumulation a shadow Marx he developed this theory trying to figure out how capital accumulation could continue continuously at all that is why is it that an increase in productivity an increase in a growth of demand for labor does not lead to wages rising indefinitely and squeezing accumulation in other words theoretically if you have capital accumulation and increasing production you would have an increased demand for labor and so Labor's power with respect to capital would theoretically increase if there's a shortage of labor then Labor has much more bargaining power capitalists have to compete to get that labor and so they would have to pay higher wages pay benefits etc so why is it that this doesn't lead to a situation where rages rise indefinitely and just cut off accumulation altogether the answer is that the growth of accumulation is able to proceed unhindered only if it also displays us and makes redundant large numbers of workers as foster at McChesney State the resulting redundancy of workers checks any tendency toward a to rapid rise in real wages we should bring accumulation to a halt by constantly revolutionising the instruments of production the capitalist system is able no less constantly to produce a relative surplus population or reserve army of labour which competes for jobs with those in the active labour army so capitalism as a system inherently produces great wealth but also great poverty it produces jobs but only alongside great unemployment or precarious underemployment so this chart demonstrates that's from 1991 to 2015 the global reserve army of labour constituted about 60 percent of the available working population in the world marx broke the reserve army down into three categories the floating population the latent Reserve Army and the stagnant population the floating population consists of workers that are unemployed due to normal ups and downs of the equation cycle or as a result of technological unemployment the latent reserve army refers to all those people working subsistence agriculture as I talked about who are constantly at risk of land grabs and deposit ization and the stagnant population is part of the reserve army but with extremely irregular employment so this includes part-time and casual workers who desire full-time work as well as people doing outsourced to work for nearest slave wages or people who make their living in the informal sector the informal economy but all of these populations are reflected here in the vulnerable unemployed in active categories in 2015 according to stats from the International Labour Organization the global reserve army consisted of more than 2.3 billion people compared to around 1.6 6 billion in the active labour army and many of these people in the active army are of course precariously employed the number of officially unemployed corresponding to Marx's floating population is close to 200 million 1.5 billion workers are classified as vulnerably employed relating to Marx's stagnant population and this is made up of workers working a quote unquote on their own account including subsistence farmers informal workers and the informal economy and domestic workers 630 million people between the age of 25 and 54 are classified as economically inactive according to Jonah and Foster however these statistics actually downplay the extent of the reserve army of labour people who are listed as employed it's not taken into consideration the increasing precariousness that a lot of people faced in their jobs or the fact that they may only have a very partial and insecure relation to employment they said that the share of workers globally making 2 dollars or less per day it was about 25% in 2014 precarious is particularly high in the developing world where the working poor making 4 dollars or less per day make up more than half of all workers nearly 60% of wage workers globally are part-time or in some form of temporary employment addition over 22% are self-employed often under dire conditions the chart to here shows the same labor data but only with respect to the developed country is or the global north so here we see the the proportion of wage workers is larger and the reserve army of Labor is a bit smaller however it's clear that without counting part-time and contingent employment the reserve army is still huge constituting some twenty six percent of the available workforce in 2015 also since precariousness is often associated with part-time and contingent work and says the shift in these work situations is increasing in the advanced capitalist countries its growth is much greater than the ILO data revealed here so it's not necessarily that we have swathes of people who are doing no work at all or just completely unemployed often for people in the global south this is not an option so they will do whatever they can at work whatever improbable job they can just to put food on their plates but it's that work everywhere is becoming more and more precarious and that capitalism produces this precariousness it produces this reserve army of labour in order to keep accumulation going and it's not just going to be poor sweatshop workers that we can just kind of keep out of sight out of mind it's going to be you and I is going to be our parents it's going to be so many people and I've made another video about automation so labor will have less and less and less bargaining power and we'll have to just accept the scraps that are thrown to us and order to eat food this is how capitalism functions in its innermost levels so we can't just put a happy face on this or make some kind of a compassionate capitalism like try putting a happy face on this we're gonna have to get ahead of what is coming for us in the system and that means uniting waking up and starting to actually work on plausible alternatives so thanks so much again to my patrons I got a number of new pledges which is wonderful thank you so much for that check me out on Facebook Twitter etc like comment share subscribe and I'll see you in another video


Reader Comments

  1. 1:00 If you have 3 degrees and you can only find 12k of work a year then that might tell you how many your education is actually worth.

    If you're smart and motivated you can always succeed even if all you have is a high school diploma.

  2. 0:49–0:53 Kind of reminds me of the differences between
    a nice call centre manager I knew of once and myself (three community college certifications not degrees).

  3. This is quite ridiculous. I live in a developed and capitalist country (Poland) and we have the opposite of a "reserve labour army". We have such a low unemployment that people doing menial jobs (cashiers, lawn mowers etc.) have to get huge wage increases every year so they are willing to work. We actually have problems recruiting Ukrainians (from a frigging war zone) for work on terms profitable for businesses.

  4. jobs under Communism? lol everything is moving toward automation, you dont need a work force its not 1940 anymore lol commie bs is obsolete, even if they do give you a job its not going to be a "dream job" in your chosen field lol its going to be moping shit off the ground, so if you want that move to Portland or California people defecate on the streets there and you'll be first in line for a job when the communist revolution happens lmfao

  5. Driving people off their land happen to american farm families, forced them in New England textile Mills. In the famous Poem/Anthem Jerusalem England's Textile Mills are referred to as "Satanic Mills". William Blake is a great social commentator. Perhaps you cover him in The Lost of the Common.

  6. I feel this is also the reason conservatives are against abortion; Abortion impedes their access to cheap labor reserves.

  7. I would laugh so hard to see you debate Mindy Robinson, the Right's new "secret weapon". Haha. Smart and beautiful is better than beautiful and beligerant with no education.

  8. There is no such thing as precarious work. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Socialism is what really causes poverty.

  9. Hey Mexie, just wanted to say I absolutely love your videos. Although I am already rather fit on Marxist economic theory and philosophy, a lot of the geographic facts you offer are completely new to me, and function as great arguments for any discussion with pro-capitalists. The only downside – for some reason I have started to overly focus on your background music. I had to pause and rewind this video multiple times, because I found myself only hearing your voice as a kind of "rap" on the beat. But I'm weird that way and probably the only one having that problem. Keep up the good work!

  10. On Apple sweatshop job satisfaction: Management puts up nets outside to prevent workers from jumping to their deaths.

  11. Some people think we deserve to be exploited cause they fear the capitalists are gonna starve if they pay us more. I'm serious.

  12. Those peasants getting kicked off their land and driven into cities is reminiscent of the enclosure movement in England during the industrial revolution.

  13. Excuse me Mexie , but actually you just talk to entertain us and YouTube pays you for that.

    Knowing (i.e. having number of degrees) is not the same as doing.
    Knowing is not the same as doing…. and the doing must result in others giving you their money/Wealth.

    For Example : You may know how a car works but it is the person, who knows how to run a car-repair business, who will collect the profit of your knowledge. Because to him your knowledge is just a resource he can exploit and you are just a bio-machine to him.

    Such relationship, comes down to who needs who the most. He needs the resource that you are to him, you need to survive.

  14. I recently noticed that there is a gender gap in "smart channels". I wonder if it's the lack of female youtubers, my own bias, the YouTube algorithm or what?? Am I alone on this one? Awesome channel btw I'm subscribing.

  15. Yeah capitalism kinda sucks but it also works and with a few tweaks it's a pretty good deal. I mean things are getting better. Child mortality had been going down for decades for example.

  16. The one thing Ive found interesting about my situation is liesure time is great but after day 3 I'm ready to work. I work 3 days a week straight for 36 hours a week with 4 days off in a row. I typically will work an extra day to make money to put away. After spending a day at the beach and another playing video games I begin to feel anxious. I'm sure it would be different friends and family were on a similar schedule. Its kind of like being socially conditioned to need work. The main thing that troubles me is the lack of purpose in modern jobs.

  17. Have you ever thought about starting revolution in 3rd world countrie. Global reserve army are another people that my want some revolution.
    Edit: maybe people even make t-shirt with your face.

  18. Thanks Mexie. On the plus side there has never been such a well educated unemployed debt laden underclass ever before in history. Have you ever looked into the Seattle protests of 1999 which shut down the WTO talks?

  19. My question is that if the huge factories making cheap products are bad, how do you explain the rising wealth level in countries like china, and this includes the workers as well, not just the elite. To put it simply, people get out of poverty or their poverty isn't as extreme as it used to be.

    Now i'm all for not exploiting people, but i think you paint too black/white picture here.

  20. For the US, the problem has more to do with the constant Luddite mentality that permeates the working class. Politicians feed off of this and promote jobs from bygone eras (see Trump campaign). No, you likely aren't going to work at the steel mill like grandpa or the Ford plant like dad. Automation exists and will ALWAYS exist as long as technology exists. Automation IS technological advancement. We make technological advancements to reduce labor time and burden. (Ex. a microwave makes dinner a hell of a lot simpler and less laborious. Reduces the number of tools you need to make dinner.) Today, a machine or foreign slave worker isn't going to invent an entirely new OS for a phone, only a highly educated person will. Ludditeism creates a vicious cycle of econ/tech stagnation the spirals ever downward over time.

  21. I'm a Fascist. The economic system I like is Distributism. I am also ok with Corporatism and Guild Socialism as well as National Sydicalism. Why support Class Conflict when you can support Class Collaboration.

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