By the beginning of the 21st century, social norms had shifted to the point where women were no longer considered a reserve army of labor
. Without this theory as a counterpoint, the book as a whole begins to lose its power.
What was engineered there in Marxist terms was a crisis of capitalism which recreated a reserve army of labor
and has allowed capitalists to make high profits ever since.
Interestingly, Longhi's own nation of Italy used to provide a "vast reserve army of labor
," as the Marxists say, to the entire world.
In the final analysis, these are seen here as institutions of social control: "the only way the state has to keep the reserve army of labor
in check is by [creating] lockdown conditions in urban areas." (166) Poor women of colour are propelled by work- fare programs into deadend McJobs in the service economy, or by the Bush Administration's "marriage incentives" into economic dependency on poor men.
The reserve army of labor
is a mass of human beings who will work under any conditions.
Instead of leaving them to stew on some impoverished reservation, it permits them to join forces with Jewish workers in order to challenge the very idea of a reserve army of labor
. Democracy is more important to the poor and oppressed, not less.
In another idiom, the reserve army of labor
was no longer performing its historic function" (Ibid.: 28).
One possible explanation for China's low inflation is that it has used imported technology, foreign investment, and migration of workers from agriculture to industry to greatly increase labor productivity, even while using its reserve army of labor
from the interior provinces to keep wages low in the industrial seaboard provinces.
as the reserve army of labor
. More than an underlying attribute of
The massive unemployment of the Great Depression revived such proposals and inaugurated what Keyssar calls "a new political economy of unemployment.' With the state assuming responsibility for jobless workers and with union contracts organizing seniority systems that rationalized layoff policies, an era of "managed unemployment' replaced the earlier "era of uncertainty.' The reserve army of labor
was not put out of commission, however; it was simply reorganized according to new rules.
As wages rise, they help to accelerate the development of forces which create a relative surplus population or reserve army of labor
. (By the way, Braverman's discussion of the Reserve Army of Labor
in Chapter 17 is worth a careful reading, especially today, with the official unemployment rate in the United States so low.) These forces are precisely those examined by Harry Braverman, namely the detailed division of labor and mechanization.
The typical leftist version envisions a well-paid working class, empowered chiefly by the basence of a reserve army of labor
available to work at any price.