Compulsory Labor

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Compulsory Labor


a social form of labor characteristic of antagonistic social formations. The worker is forced to give up his surplus labor to the ruling classes without receiving compensation. Compulsory labor originates at a particular developmental stage of the means of production, when the conditions emerge for the exploitation of man by man—that is, when the increasing social division of labor and the consequent increase in the productivity of labor make possible the creation of a surplus product.

The first form of compulsory labor was slavery, which was based on the transformation of the means of production and the direct producer into private property. Feudal serfdom, historically the next form of compulsory labor, was based on binding the producer to the landed property of the lord. The peasant was forced to hand over his surplus labor to the landlord. Both slavery and serfdom were characterized by the direct coercion of dependent workers (seeEXTRAECONOMIC CONSTRAINT). The feudal form of compulsory labor was more progressive than slavery, but at a certain point it retarded the development of the productive forces.

As a result of the bourgeois revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, which led to the rise of capitalism, the feudal form gave way to the capitalist form of compulsory labor. It differs from slavery and feudal serfdom in that the wage laborer is formally a free individual. At the same time, however, he is deprived of ownership of the means of production, and he is therefore compelled to sell the capitalist his labor power, his only source of income. In fact, labor is subordinate to capital, and the worker is economically dependent on the capitalist. This coercion is, however, mediated by buying and selling relations. Capitalism maintains and reproduces all the precapitalist forms of compulsory labor, particularly in the colonies and dependent nations.

References in periodicals archive ?
Workers in bondage: The origins and bases of unfree labour in Queensland, 1824-1916.
In the book under review, as in my earlier publications on the theme of unfree labour, theory and analysis are framed in an unfolding narrative covering events from the late seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century.
--, 2015, <<Free Markets, Unfree Labour: Old Questions Answered, New Answers Questioned>>, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 45, 3 :531-540.
Some authors have deduced an absence of capitalism or market society in the early colonial period on the basis of a lack of markets, the pervasiveness of unfree labour and the apparent lack of capitalist class control over the state (Dunn, 1975).
Anderson, 'Unfree labour and its discontents: Transportation from Mauritius to Australia, 1820-1850', Australian Studies, vol.
"Free and Unfree Labour: The Debate Continues", Vol 5 in the series International and Comparative Social History.
Although it is perhaps too convenient to criticise Cohen for taking a European example to illustrate his points -- serfdom in Russia and Poland -- rather than the example of slavery, the persistence of unfree labour until today is a reality that must be pointed out.
Both Athens and Rome may be classified as large-scale slave systems, that is, as societies whose social structure was decisively dependent on the institution of slavery, in that unfree labour provided a large share of the surplus by the control of which the position of the ruling classes was in part sustained, and in that a considerable percentage of the population was made up of slaves.(27) Both of these characteristics doubtless applied to classical Athens and Roman Italy, where we have to reckon with a slave population that accounted for approximately one third of the entire population.
Although the term "modern slavery" has permeated neither Canadian political debate nor academic discussion, (10) there is significant literature on unfree labour, mainly with respect to temporary migration.
Until the mid-1940s, the colonial administration frequently employed forced and unfree labour in the construction and maintenance of colonial infrastructure (Cooper 1996; Fall 1993).
Yet unfree labour was as a ghost of capital's past, peculiar to the birth pangs of the capitalist mode of production, what Marx called--adapting from earlier classical political economists--"primitive accumulation."