In the automobile industry, parts are delivered “just-in-time” from supplier to assembly factories.
With the elimination of the buffer supply of parts, a strike that stops production in one key parts factory can bring assembly operations throughout the corporation to a halt within a matter of days or less.
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For example, just-in-time production, by eliminating all buffers and redundancies from the production process, has strengthened the disruptive power of workers at the point of production.
We can see a déjà vu pattern whereby manufacturing capital moved into new geographical locations in search of cheaper/more docile labor, but even though labor was weakened in the sites from which capital fled, rather than creating a straightforward race to the bottom, the result was the creation of new working classes and strong new labor movements in each new favored site of production.
This dynamic was visible when the “manufacturing miracles” in Brazil and South Africa in the 1960s and South Korea in the 1970s were followed, within a generation, by the emergence of “labor movement miracles” that dismantled the labor-repressive regimes that had guaranteed cheap and docile labor. One response of capitalists to the wave of labor unrest in China has been efforts to relocate production to sites with even cheaper labor.
In order to make sense of what is unfolding before our eyes, we need an approach that is sensitive to the ways in which the recurrent revolutions in the organization of production that have characterized the history of capitalism resulted not just in the side of the process of class formation.
But if we work from the premise that the world’s working classes and workers’ movements are recurrently made, unmade and remade, then we have a powerful antidote against the tendency to prematurely pronounce the death of the working class every time a historically specific working class is unmade.Yet labor unrest continues to be an important component of overall labor unrest.