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“Primitive Accumulation, Migrant Workers and Social Reproduction in the Age of Austerity”: David McNally

The Age of Austerity ushered in by the global crisis of 2008-9 centrally involves cheapening the reproduction of labour-power by means of reducing both private wages and the social wage administered by the state. These policies have decided class, gender, racial and generational dimensions. To properly elucidate these dimensions, however, requires that we also grasp ongoing primitive accumulation as a crucial ‘moment’ in the austerity agenda. To accomplish this means addressing the role of the reproduction of the global reserve army of labour, and of precarious migrant workers, in the restructuring of labour-power on a world scale.


In order to develop the theory of primitive accumulation in these directions, this paper returns to tensions in Marx’s account of the social reproduction of labour-power. Here I argue that not only does Marx’s conceptualization require a gender analysis, but that it also needs to be developed with respect to the problematic of labour migration. I show where Marx points to ways in which we might do this. The analysis presented underlines the decisive importance of an anti-racist defence of migrant workers for any effective working class politics in the Age of Austerity.


David McNally is Professor of Political Science at York University and a leading member of the New Socialist Group (www.newsocialist.org). He has written extensively on the critique of political economy. His publications include Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance and Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism.


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Fuente: Delavsko-punkerska univerza

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