Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism

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The Laborer
(Also see Antisystemic Resources)

In addition to the consumer, the laborer is essential to the culture of capitalism; without a large body of people who must survive by selling their labor, the culture of capitalism could not function. The following web sites contain information about the history and formation of the laborer. Since labor is a major component of Marxist thought, many of these sites contain information about the ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrick Engels, Vladamir Lenin, Emma Goldman, among others. Other sites are devoted to movements to improve the life of laborers, particularly in countries on the periphery of the world-system. Yet other sites contain information about the state of labor in the United States and other countries of the world.

American Labor History Resources

A list of useful references and links on American labor history.

Anti-Slavery Today

Slavery remains a major world problem, taking various forms but affecting an estimated 2 million people.  This site provides resources and information on the problem. [QuickTime]

A timely site in this season of gift-giving, reports on the labor issues and working conditions of those people who make many of the clothes sold by major retailers. Among's initial sponsors are UNITE (the US and Canadian clothing workers' union), AT Media, United Students Against Sweatshops, and the Progressive Religious Partnership. The site has a range of resources including news stories, analysis, bulletin boards, scheduled chats, op/ed pieces, photos, video, and links to additional resources. A special holiday season feature lets users select one of four cards to send to the Gap, Ann Taylor, Target, or Abercrombie & Fitch, asking them to please pay their workers a living wage. Note that we could not access all of the site's features using Netscape on a Mac, but we had no trouble using Internet Explorer or using Netscape on a PC. (Scout Report, 12/21/01)

The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings [.pdf]

While one has undoubtedly heard or seen such statistics before, they aren't always at hand when you need them. Released by the Public Information Office of the US Census Bureau, The Big Payoff is a readily absorbed reference item for anyone looking to quantify and/or justify academic achievement. Drawing on statistics taken from the 2000 census, the brief clearly demonstrates the direct correlation between educational achievement and earning potential. High school dropouts and graduates rest at the low end of an earnings continuum, with Bachelors and Masters degree holders figuring next with nearly twice the average lifetime earning potential. Interestingly, pursuit of a doctorate seems to pay off less than one might think, at least given the years of labor they require. Well beyond any other category, holders of advanced professional degrees (e.g., JD, MD and MBA) make out the best, topping out the list of bread winners.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

The U.S. Department of Labor site containing statistics and other useful information about the American economy including statistics on employment, unemployment, wages, etc. The site also contains lonks to other sites that contain economic statistics concerning employment, wages, etc. What has the unemployment rate been for each of the past six months? What is the average hourly wage over the past six months? Browse the site and see what you can find out about occupational health and safety. For example, what are the most dangerous occupations?

By the Sweat & Toil of Children: Efforts to Eliminate Child Labor—DOL

The fifth volume in a Congressionally-mandated series of annual reports on child labor, this recently-released report from the US Department of Labor (DOL) examines child labor in sixteen developing nations around the world. The report provides an overview of the types of work performed by the estimated 250 million child workers in these countries and their labor conditions. Also included is a review of child labor laws and enforcement efforts, descriptions of education initiatives aimed at increasing primary school enrollment, and examples of efforts to address the exploitation of working children.

Campaign for Labor Rights

A site devoted to assisting activists working to improve wages and working conditions of workers around the world. The site contains information on various initiatives regarding worker rights. For example, what is the Nike campaign and what kinds of actions has it promoted? What is the Disney campaign? has it resulted in any tangible progress to improve worker’s wages and working conditions?

Closing: The Life and Death of an American Factory

Available from the Yale University Art Gallery, this photo exhibit by Bill Bamberger chronicles the closing of the White Furniture Company of Mebane, NC in May 1993. Eleven online images provide an intimate view of the manufacturing workers’ plight, and viewers may read or post reactions at the Forum page. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 4/8/99)

Commodity Fetish Times

A great site with lots of information on the basic contradictions in capitalism. The language of the site sometimes lapses into Marxist jargon, but don’t be put off by it. There is lots to learn here. For example, what is "Fordism"? Who was Emma Goldman and what did she have to say about Syndicalism ?

Communist Party U.S.A.

The web site of the Communist party of the United States. As its counter part in Great Britain, the CP in the United States has its own weekly publication, the People's Weekly World. One of the most valuable contributions of these sites is to present an alternative view of global events from those  found in most of the mainstream media. Check some of the recent issues, and compare how the People’s Weekly World analyzes global events (e.g. the Russian financial crisis), with the way they are viewed in the mainstream press.

Congress of South African Trade Unions

The CSATU was founded in 1985 and is one of the major labor and worker organizations in South Africa.  The Website contains perspectives on the labor and economic situation in South Africa.  Given the impact of AIDS in Africa, there is also a telling statement on a Code on HIV/AIDS and Employment that is worth reading.

Dramas of Haymarket

An online project produced by the Chicago Historical Society and Northwestern University, details the history of labor protest in America and the events leading up to the Haymarket potest of 1886..  The Haymarket meeting and bombing, the subsequent riot, arrests, trial, and executions, and related events of the period form one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of Chicago, the United States, and of working people everywhere. On the evening of May 4, 1886, a few thousand people assembled in the Haymarket area at the intersection of Randolph and Desplaines Streets, across the South Branch of the Chicago River about eight blocks west of City Hall. The purpose of the rally was to protest the killing of two workers the previous day by the police when they broke up an angry confrontation between locked-out union members and their replacements at the McCormick reaper factory on the city's Southwest Side. This confrontation was one of many outbreaks of violence at the time due to labor and class tensions. Central among labor's demands was the eight-hour workday.

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism

A wonderful resource on the life and social philosophy of Leon Trotsky. For starters, what is Trotskyism, who was Leon Trotsky, and what did he do?

Geographic Profile of Employment and Unemployment, 2000

Containing information provided by the Current Population Survey (CPS) and the Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), this annual report highlights data on the labor force, employment, and unemployment in states and sub-state areas. Viewable in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format, this report is equipped with 28 tables displaying labor force estimates for census regions and divisions, along with annual average rates, ratios, and percent distributions from the CPS. Also available are reports from 1999, 1998, and 1997.

Haymarket Affair

This site showcases a collection of more than 3,800 images of original manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints, and artifacts relating to the Haymarket Affair -- the violent confrontation between Chicago police and labor protesters in 1886. Materials cover the May 4, 1886 meeting and bombing, the trial, the conviction and subsequent appeals of those accused of inciting the bombing, the execution of four of the convicted, and the later pardon of the remaining defendants. The site also has a "special presentations" area, containing the Haymarket Affair chronology and autobiographies of two of the defendants. Viewers can search the site by keyword, or browse by subjects, names, or transcripts and exhibits from the trial. For more information on this topic, viewers can also visit The Dramas of Haymarket web site covered in the May 12, 2000 edition of the Scout Report

"Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2000" [.pdf]

In 1999, median, weekly earnings of male, full-time wage and salary workers were $618, while female, full-time wage and salary workers earned only $473, approximately 23 percent less. Data from this report come from the Current Population Survey, a monthly survey of the US Census Bureau, and represent nearly 50,000 US households. The main body of the report contains eighteen data tables, including "Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics, 1999 annual averages," "Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by occupation and sex, 1983 and 1999 annual averages," and "Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by sex, marital status, and presence and age of own children under 18 years old, 1999 averages." The report also contains several pages of highlighted findings, in a browseable, bulleted format. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 7/13/00)

Images of Child Labor

"Child Labor and the Global Village: Photography for Social Change is a team of 11 photographers who will be photographing child workers around the globe.  By photographing individual children in their worlds - their families, communities, countries - we hope to see behind the child labor label. Child labor is the result of a complex set of factors: poverty; lack of schools; poor health care; war; and many others. Solutions must meet the needs of individual children. We need to know who they are to know what they need."

International Communist League

The fall of the communist regimes in eastern Europe did not end the movement to establish communist parties and governments, as you can find out at this site.  Check out the Declaration of Principles and Some Elements of Program for a good summary of the goals of the International Communist League.

International Institute of Social History

The Institute of Social History is a major documentary and research institutions in the field of social history in general and the history of the labor movement in particular.

International Labor Organization

"The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights."  On the site you can obtain information on internationally negotiated labor standards, statements on the rights of workers, global employment trends, and the World Employment Report 1998/99.  Check out the report: how many workers in the world are unemployed or underemployed?  What are the long-term employment trends?

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour [.pdf]

The aim of the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour is "to work towards the progressive elimination of child labour by strengthening national capacities to address child labour problems, and by creating a worldwide movement to combat it." The prime target groups for the Programme are bonded child laborers, children in hazardous working conditions, working girls, and children under the age of 12 who are working. From the Programme's home page, visitors can learn about the 60 countries that have currently signed up to support the organization's mission, download factsheets about child labor problems, and read the organization's latest progress report. The Online Newsroom contains a photo gallery, full-text versions of speeches and recent presentations given by IPEC officials, and information for journalists. Finally, interested persons will want to take a close look at several important reports published by the IPEC, including "HIV/ AIDS and Child Labour in sub-Saharan Africa" and "Eliminating Hazardous Child Labour Step by Step."

International Trafficking In Women To The United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime_ [.pdf]

This recently released, 70-page report from the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) reveals that as many as 50,000 women and children from Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe are trafficked to the United States each year. Brought in primarily by small crime rings and "loosely connected criminal networks," they are forced to work as prostitutes, servants, and laborers in all regions of the country. The report offers background on trafficking methods and perpetrators, the issues and challenges involved in combatting trafficking, and some suggestions for policymakers. The full text of the report is available in .pdf format at the CSI site. (Scout Report, 4/14/00)

Key Indicators of the Labour Market  (KILM) -- ILO [RealPlayer]

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has created Key Indicators of the Labour Market or KILM, in order to "develop a set of labour market indicators widen the availability of the indicators to monitor new employment trends." Using information gathered by organizations including the World Bank, ILO, OECD, and UNESCO, KILM contains data spanning eighteen indicators and 200 countries. KILM indicators include Employment-to-Population Ratio, Status in Employment, Part-time Workers, and Hours of Work. Although the Website does not feature an online version of KILM, interested users may order it here. The site, however, does provide working papers, introductions to each of the eighteen indicators, and educational video clips about the ILO and the KILM program. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 2/10/2000)

Labour Left Briefing Links

A UK-based site, Labour Left Briefing Links offers nearly 700 links related to labor movements. This extensive browseable, annotated index includes the catagories Academic Sites and Libraries, Campaigns and Pressure Groups, Greens and Environmentalists, International Labour Movements, as well as Protest Songs and Socialist Music, Radical Media, and Social Communists and Revolutionaries. The sites are rated, and users may opt to view the most popular sites as well as ones that have been newly added. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 3/23/00)

Labor Unions and the Internet

"Cornell University librarians Suzanne Cohen and Deborah Joseph prepared this extensive guide to labor union information on the Internet as part of a Catherwood Library Labor/ Management Outreach Program. An eloquent introduction explains the importance of the Internet as a networking and research tool for labor organizations, and over 20 annotated webliographies guide users to online directories, statistics, company information, newsletters, and collective bargaining legal links, among other resources." (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 4/8/99)


An excellent source on international labor news.  LaborStart is designed to be the home page for those interested in labor news and events (in the same way as Netscape or Microsoft Explorer have their corporate home page) and is updated daily.  The site also contains links to international labor organizations. 

Left Behind in the Labor Market: Recent Employment Trends Among Young Black Men [.pdf]

Written by Paul Offner and Harry Holzer, Professors at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, "Left Behind in the Labor Market: Recent Employment Trends Among Young Black Men" is a nine page report that compares the employment trends of young black men with no more than a high school education to other groups of the same educational background over the past two decades. According to the report, as the employment rate for young black women has steadily increased over the last 20 years, the rate of employment for their male counterparts has declined. Only 52% of young black men are currently employed compared to 62% twenty years ago. Furthermore, the study finds that the employment rate for young black men is much lower in cities compared to the suburbs. On the whole, the findings provide a cautionary note for welfare reform public policies aimed towards "family formation." Hence, the high percentage of unemployed young black men makes the economics of marriage less favorable for many low-income black couples. The report concludes with the authors' recommendations for how welfare policy can contribute to the formation of two parent families by helping young black men and fathers succeed in the labor market.

Maquila Solidarity Movement

"The Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN) is a Canadian network promoting solidarity with groups in Mexico, Central America, and Asia organizing in maquiladora factories and export processing zones to improve conditions and win a living wage."  You can check on campaigns against selected corporations to gain living wages for maquiladora workers, and read an article, The Secret Life of Toys, that examines the working conditions in toy factories in China.

Marx/Engels Internet Archive

The primary Website for access to works of Karl Marx, Frederich Engels.  In addition to the full text of most of their works, there is extensive biographical information and a collection of photographs.  Find the Manifesto of the Comunist Party, written by Marx and Engels in 1848, and one of the most important political documents written, and read Section 1: Bourgeois and Proletarians.   To what extent do you think this section of the Manifesto has relevance today?   How do they view the role of  the lower strata of the middle class -- the small tradespeople, shopkeepers?  How do they define the bourgeoisie?  

Marxjour (access to various labor sites)

The purpose of this Website is to organize journals and articles written "in the Marxist tradition."  There you will find an extensive list of Websites for journals, and other sites.  For example, go Social Justice E-Zine.  What are some of the topics of the articles?  Or check out Crossroads, another online journal.

Marx to Mao

An excellent site to complement the Marx-Engels Archive.  In addition to some of the writings of Marx and Engels, the site  provides access to the writings of the other major figures in the history of communism and socialism,  V. I.  Lenin,   Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung (Zedong).  There is nothing like primary sources such as these to help you understand some of the major motivating forces in world history.

Marxists Internet Archive

Touted as the "most complete database of Marxism hitherto made," The Marxists Internet Archive is an extensive collection of Marxist material, compiled and distributed completely by volunteers. The materials are organized into focused collections which are found in the site’s four main sections: Writers Archive, Non-English Archive, History Archive, and Reference Archive, an ever-expanding collection of secondary material. The most developed compilation is the Writers’ Archive, which contains large collections of writing and information about Marxists including Trotski, Lenin, Draper, DeLeon, and of course, Marx, as well as smaller collections on Cannon, Guevara, and Morris, among others. This site is an invaluable resource for both novices and experts interested in Marxism. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, March 9, 2000)

Socialism Directory

Wonderful site, with resources in French, Spanish, and English,  contains hundreds of links to resources on labor, labor history, labor conflict, Marxism, socialism, and anarchism, by subject and by country.  

Strikes! Labor and Labor History in Puget Sound!/

The University of Washington’s Center for Labor Studies, Henry Art Gallery, and University libraries have teamed up to create this wonderful online exhibit "to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Seattle General Strike of 1919 and the 65th anniversary of the Maritime Strikes of 1934." The main exhibit contains scanned images of newspaper headlines and articles, photographs, and other artifacts from the two strikes. Descriptions, stories, quotes, and excerpts accompany each item’s thumbnail image. Enlarge the images by clicking on them in order to see the details. Other resources on this Website include a short article about the Canadian experience in the strike of 1919, a brief bibliography, and an annotated links page that covers information about the Seattle General Strike of 1919, the 1934 Longshoremen’s Strike, and a couple of general sites about labor history. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, November 18, 1999)

A Thousand Years of Work and Money

This special collection of articles from the _Christian Science Monitor_ examines the evolution of work. "Infinite Quest" considers workers’s needs to have a safe and secure place to work, comparing today’s workers with their counterparts in 1000 AD. "Events That Shook the World of Work" provides short synopses of the 20 most important "inventions and developments, and how they changed the way jobs get done" from the rise of guilds in the eleventh century to the World Wide Web in 1993. The improvements in wages and quality of living over time are outlined in "More Power to More People," while "The Search for Personal Wealth" deals with the finances of workers throughout the past 1000 years focusing especially on the changes wrought by investing. Finally, "Rooted in Religion, Charities Branch Out" explores the development of not-for-profit agencies. These thoughtful, well-written articles are accompanied by a timeline that charts the evolution of currency. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 3/23/00)

Today's Unions

The Website for the AFL-CIO.  Lots of good information on current issues, along with links to other labor sites.  You can find out for example, how much women earn for every dollar earned by men (click here to check).  You can find out how the pay of executives compares to that of workers, as well as strategies for union organizing. 

Trade Union World

The Website of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions contains information about member unions and news of labor actions around the world.  You can also find resources on labor activism along with other useful links.

The Triangle Fire: a muli-media, historical web page

The Triange Shirstwaist fire of March 25, 1911, was one of the turning points in labor-management relations in the United States, and brought public attention to the condition of women laborers in the United States.  146 of the 500 employees of the Company died in the blaze.  This site provides an historical overview of the event.   At the site you can find interviews with survivors, photographs, information on labor conditions before and after the fire, etc. 

United Farm Workers

The official Website of the United Farm Workers.  At the site you can find out about the most recent campaigns of the United Farm Workers, volunteer to help, and find links to many other sites.

U.S. Department of Labor

"The U.S. Department of Labor is charged with preparing the American workforce for new and better jobs, and ensuring the adequacy of America's workplaces."  You can find lots of information on American labor statistics, along with information on labor legislation.

The US Department of Labor (DOL) Library, established in 1917, is one of the oldest Cabinet-level libraries and internationally recognized for its excellent collection of labor history materials. Recently dedicated as the Wirtz Labor Library, it has also been placed online. At the site, users can read about the library’s history, holdings, and special collections, and most importantly, search the library’s card catalog system. Other resources include links to related research resources, a few select bibliographies, and a listing of library events. (Scout Report 4/7/00)

Women's Labor History -- AFSCME

In honor of Women's history month, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has posted on their Website an annotated directory of Websites devoted to women's labor history. This includes a number of sites on famous women agitators and labor advocates including Mary Kenney O'Sullivan (co-founder of the Women's Trade Union League), Florence Kelley (who agitated for reform of the women's sweatshops of Chicago), Jane Addams, Mother Jones, and others. Historical sites dedicated to key periods in women's labor history are also listed as well as a section of general women's labor history links. (Scout Report for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 3/20/01

Worker's World

The site of the Worker's World Party.  Excellent source of information on resistance to capitalist expansion, with stories on labor and social conditions around the world.

Working in the 21st Century

Published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Working in the 21st Century is a thorough portrait of the US workforce that begins with the new millennium. Covers topics ranging from education levels to retirement plans, the report can be viewed through an online slide show or accessed by clicking on a topic that appears in the Web site's table of contents. Some of the subject headings include: The labor force is growing more slowly; More women are working today than in the past; Immigrants are found at the high and low ends of the education scale; Education pays; Workers with computer skills are in demand; The ten occupations that will generate the most jobs range widely in their skill requirements; and The workplace is becoming safer. In short, for anyone looking for a job, interested in changing occupations, or just curious about the job market, this site is an excellent place to start.

Your Voice at Work_ -- ILO [QuickTime, .pdf, 12.3 MB]

Released on May 25 by the International Labor Organization, this 88-page report, the first released under the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, examines significant trends and problems related to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights around the world. The report stresses the crucial role of both in ensuring decent working conditions and documents various violations of these rights across the globe as well as the dangers brought on by the rapid growth of informal economies. Users can read the report in its entirety or by section, although the full report, at 12MB is a surprisingly large download considering its length. The ILO site also offers background information, related publications, and a two-part video press release in QuickTime format. (Scout Report for Business and Economics, 6/1/2000)


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