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Marxist Richard D. Wolff on Immigration
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May 23, 2010, 04:05 PM
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Richard D. Wolff is professor Emeritus at University of Massachusetts—and is a self-professed. Marxist. I am generally not a fan of Marxist economics—but this is the first time I have seen a contemporary Marxist grappling with some of the issues surrounding immigration.

Here some some quotes from Wolff`s webpage that VDARE.com readers may find of interest:

Class War

However, labor shortages inside the US had long frustrated employers (even when they used massive immigration waves, automation, and other weapons of class war). When, by the 1970s, those conditions finally shifted (computerization and globalization reduced the demand for labor while women and new immigration increased the supply of laborers), employers stopped raising real wages with all the results discussed above.

Capitalist Crisis and the Return to Marx

Most important was the global opening up of vast new sources of relatively cheap labor (especially in and also immigrating from the former �second� and �third� worlds). Just as technological changes drove up the productivity of labor, real wages were prevented from rising. Whenever productivity rises while real wages stagnate, the result is an explosion of the capitalist surplus

An Interview with Economist Richard Wolff

Then, two things produced more workers looking for these fewer jobs: the massive movement of American women into the paid labor market and waves of immigration—people wanting to participate in the 150-year rising real wage. This confluence produced labor market conditions that had US employers, for the first time, in the enviable situation of no longer being required to raise wages to acquire or keep employees. And they stopped doing so.

Capitalism Hits the Fan Movie

Sometime during the 1970s things began to change. First, the introduction of computers led to rising productivity but without increased job creation or rising wages. Second, a second great wave of massive immigration led to more competition for jobs. Third, outsourcing became available to capital as a way to drive down costs and put a ceiling on pay packets. Fourth, foreign competition from low-wage areas hurt both domestic and foreign sales. This brought the long wave of rising wages to a screeching halt.

As a result of the above, workers’ real wages have leveled off from the 1970s (and even declined more recently) to present.

The Economic Crisis: A Marxian Interpretation

Computerization of most workplaces across the country, starting in the 1970s, also changed the supply and demand conditions in labor markets to the detriment of real wages. Massive immigration in search of jobs and the American dream, actively abetted and abused by countless employers, likewise operated to undermine real wage increases

The New Reading of Karl Marx’s Capital in the United States

During the last quarter century, US capitalists achieved extraordinary control over the federal state apparatus. They defeated and then badly weakened the trade union, left, and generally socially progressive forces. Starting in the mid-1970s, the federal state took massive, sustained steps to (1) improve the size of the surplus appropriated by capitalist industrial corporations, and (2) cut taxes on that surplus so that more of it became available to secure their other conditions of existence. The state undermined trade unions, slowed the growth of public employment, reduced state services for workers’ families, facilitated immigration, and expanded subsidies for technological changes that reduced capitalist demands for labour power. The effects of such state policies, coupled with corporate initiatives to enhance profitability, produced a long-term decline in real wages across the quarter century.