ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The World of Work in an Age of Permanent Crisis

The long crisis of monopoly capitalism has left the world of work in disarray. Several ongoing transformations in the world economy, such as those pertaining to the dispersion of production processes, and technological transformations, have major implications for the evolving labour question. When viewed through the lens of Karl Marx’s analytical framework, especially his formulation of the “General Law of Capitalist Accumulation,” one can conclude that the material and sociopolitical prospects for labouring people are being reconfigured. Thus, it is evident that capitalism is entirely unable to resolve the world’s labour question, and this necessitates moving beyond the logic of capitalism itself.

The world of work across the globe confronts multiple challenges. The thrust of neo-liberalism since the 1970s has been characterised by a range of processes with adverse outcomes for the well-being of workers, such as growing inequalities, declining share of labour incomes, increasing polarisation in jobs and remuneration, and the dilution of employment relations by new forms of contract. The trajectories of transition have generated great concern, if not despair, for large swathes of working people, and despite certain unevenness in the experiences, the adverse outcomes have been near universal, even in advanced countries. The long—indeed, permanent—crisis of monopoly capitalism and the methods used to recuperate profits have left the world of work in disarray, from which recovery is not possible by the logic of capitalism itself (Jha et al 2017; Yeros and Jha 2020).

This paper is primarily concerned with the world of work in the global South. But, of course, the global South can hardly be understood without comprehending its inextricable connections with the global North. One of the central tenets of historical materialism, beginning with the Communist Manifesto of 1848, concerns the inexorable, ruthless and brutal march of capital, seeking to hammer and subordinate whatever opposition comes in its way. No “Chinese Wall” is safe, and through its relentless and complex journey, with primitive accumulation at its core (in particular via colonial conquests), a “combined and uneven” global capitalist system has been shaped.

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Updated On : 9th Nov, 2022
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