Commentary

For the People? Right-Wing Populism and Employment Standards in Ontario, Canada

Doug Ford’s right-wing populism emerged in relation to the material conditions of precariousness that had escalated in the years following the 2008 financial crisis. It tapped into the insecurities of working-class and middle-class voters generated through years of growing inequality, stagnant wages, declining unionization, and the deterioration of public services and institutions. Invoking an old neoliberal trope, its solution to the crisis included measures that would make Ontario “open for business,” including employment standards reforms that undermined basic employment protections for workers in the province. While proclaiming intentions to protect “the people” from “the elite,” Ford’s populism served to sustain and enhance capitalist interests by legitimating legislation that undermines the security of an already precarious workforce.

By |2021-01-20T15:21:07-05:00Jan 20, 2021|

Political Education During the Pandemic

The current moment of overlapping public health, social, economic, political, and environmental crises has shaken the world system. How we understand this moment and its relationship to short, medium, and long-term goals for transformative social change is more important than ever.

By |2020-12-16T10:11:18-05:00Dec 16, 2020|

Revisiting Braverman on the Division of Labor: What About Job Turf?

Job design is indeed important for understanding worker bargaining power and workplace-level inequality.  It really matters how organizations assemble tasks into jobs.  But, it is trickier than Braverman's classic theory implies.  Less complex jobs are exposed to more competition.  But jobs that are more unique within a workplace also accumulate leverage.  The workplace division of labor affects bargaining power by reducing job complexity but increasing job turf.  These effects typically impact different jobs, which drives workplace-based inequality.

By |2020-12-09T10:11:14-05:00Dec 9, 2020|

Kanye, Record Contracts and Copyright Enclosure

On Sept 16, 2020, Kanye West opened up a conversation about the exploitive nature of record contracts. While Kanye is an imperfect messenger, he is the latest in a long line of recording artists who demonstrate the harmful effects of these contracts. My favorite example is the metaphor of recording [...]

By |2020-12-04T13:31:05-05:00Dec 4, 2020|

Contradictions of Our Election

The U.S. remains a deeply polarized country, with a very large racist following for a far-right party, Trump’s Republicans. At the same time, people of color, the working class, women, and youth, the LGBT community, Native Americans, and environmentalists have mobilized at levels not seen since the 1960s — in the Sanders campaign, the Black Lives Matter uprising, the immigrant rights movement, and in so many other ways. We are at a crossroads.

By |2020-11-13T15:17:17-05:00Nov 13, 2020|

Whatever the Result, This Election is not the End of Trumpism

Regardless of the results, what we know for sure is that the 2020 election will not signal the end of Trumpism, even if, as appears increasingly likely, Trump himself ends up losing the election. Despite his rank incompetence and callousness in the face of the pandemic and economic crisis, which eroded his support somewhat, he has retained the support of a significant minority of American voters. Thanks to a wildly undemocratic electoral system, it’s still possible that this minority will allow him to stay in power (there is no scenario at this point in which Trump wins the national popular vote). But even with a Biden win, Trump’s base isn’t going anywhere.

By |2020-11-04T20:07:45-05:00Nov 4, 2020|

The Limits of State Capitalism on China’s Bid for Hegemony

Much of the current discourse on China’s rise significantly overstates its economic might. China’s model of state capitalism and the dynamics of globalization have contributed to its rapid development over the past four decades. Yet these same factors circumscribe its hegemonic potential.

By |2020-10-14T13:11:15-04:00Oct 14, 2020|
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