A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 09, 2012
Wage-Slave (Wage-Slavery)

"Wage-slavery” (or “wage slavery") is when a person is living paycheck-to-paycheck and cannot afford to leave a job to look for a better one. That person is a “wage slave” to the job—often a low-paying one.

The term “wages slaves” has been cited in print since 1846 and “wages slavery” since 1847. “Wage-slave” would become a popular term from the 1870s and 1880s (after the Civil War, when actual human slavery was made illegal).


Wikipedia: Wage slavery
Wage slavery refers to a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages, especially when the dependence is total and immediate. It is a negatively connoted term used to draw an analogy between slavery and wage labor, and to highlight similarities between owning and employing a person. The term ‘wage slavery’ has been used to criticize economic exploitation and social stratification, with the former seen primarily as unequal bargaining power between labor and capital (particularly when workers are paid comparatively low wages, e.g. in sweatshops), and the latter as a lack of workers’ self-management (which criticizes the job choices that an economy allows). The criticism of social stratification covers a wider range of employment choices bound by the pressures of a hierarchical social environment (i.e. working for a wage not only under threat of starvation or poverty, but also of social stigma or status diminution).

Similarities between wage labor and slavery were noted at least as early as Cicero. Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North. With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of property not intended for active personal use.

The introduction of wage labor in 18th century Britain was met with resistance – giving rise to the principles of syndicalism. Historically, some labor organizations and individual social activists, have espoused workers’ self-management or worker cooperatives as possible alternatives to wage labor.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
wage-slave n.
1886 W. H. Mallock Old Order Changes II. 29 The hands, as you call them, the poor jaded underfed wage-slaves.
wage-slavery n.
1886 D. Donohue Let. 21 Oct. in N.Y. Times 24 Oct. 1/5 It is therefore but natural that we should vote for a man who proposes to use his best endeavors to bring about legislation by which wage slavery and land monopoly shall be abolished.
1903 Dubl. Rev. Oct. 243 The attitude taken up by the Pope‥in regard to wage-slavery.

28 August 1846, Liberator (Boston, MA), pg. 140, col. 2:
There are other slaves, wages slaves, infinitely more oppressed, degraded and hopeless.
(...)
WILLIAM WEST.
New York City, Aug. 19th, 1846.

18 March 1847, National Era (Washington, DC), pg. 2, col. 1:
LAND REFORM—WAGES SLAVERY.
We shall finish in this number our examination of the “three-fold idea of Land Reform,” and then proceed to show that there is no such thing as Wages Slavery.

2 April 1847, Liberator (Boston, MA), pg. 53, col. 3:
WAGES SLAVERY AND CHATTEL SLAVERY.
(...)
WILLIAM WEST.
Boston, March 20, 1847.

29 May 1872, Boston (MA) Herald, “Men and Things,” pg. 4, col. 1:
Such employers are ashamed to call this grinding of the poor wage-slavery, but it robs honest toil of its proper reward, which is about all that slavery can do.

OCLC WorldCat record
Breeding tigers : wage slavery in the United States : an address
Author: Benjamin W Goodhue; Knights of Labor. Local Assembly No. 522.
Publisher: Chicago : J.M. Foley, [1887]
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The money monopoly : scarce and dear money (hard money) making cheap labor, or wage slavery, falling prices, business paralysis and enforced idleness : doubling the volume and value of money obligations (bonds and mortgages) : creating the landlord system : a systematic treatise on money and finance
Author: E R Baker
Publisher: [Des Moines, Iowa? : s.n.], 1892
Edition/Format:  Book Microform : Microfilm : Master microform : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Freedom. Rent, interest, profit, and taxes, the true causes of wage slavery, discussed and exploded. : An address on the labour question delivered before the Dublin Ethical Society on 16th Nov., 1893. By G.O. Warren.
Author: G O Warren
Publisher: London : William Reeves, 185, Fleet Street, E.C., [1894].
Series: (The Nineteenth Century. General Collection ; N.1.1.9447)
Edition/Format:  Book Microform : Microfiche : Master microform : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The wage slaves of New York
Author: Roy L McCardell
Publisher: New York : G.W. Dillingham, 1899.
Series: (Wright American fiction ; v. 3 (1876-1900), reel M-2, no. 3462)
Edition/Format:  Book Microform : Fiction : Microfilm : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Chattel slavery and wage slavery : the Anglo-American context, 1830-1860
Author: Marcus Cunliffe
Publisher: Athens : University of Georgia Press, ©1979.
Series: Lamar memorial lectures, no. 22. 
Edition/Format:  Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
Wage slave no more : law and taxes for the self-employed
Author: Stephen Fishman
Publisher: Berkeley : Nolo Press, 1998.
Edition/Format:  Book : English : 2nd ed

OCLC WorldCat record
Wage slaves : not getting by in America
Author: Julie Harman; Kathleen Kern; Bill Kurtis; Fred Silverman; Richard Ross; All authors
Publisher: [S.l.] : A & E Home Video ; New York : Distributed by New Video Group, ©2002.
Series: Investigative reports. 
Edition/Format:  VHS video : VHS tape Visual material : English
Summary: Looks at five people working in low-wage jobs in Nevada, Alabama, California, and Florida. Includes interviews with these workers, as well as with Barbara Ehrenreich, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, economics professor Donald Boudreaux, and author Walter Williams, among others. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (0) Comments • Friday, March 09, 2012 • Permalink