Against Japanism
Against Japanism
Feb 15, 2022
On Intermediary Exploitation w/ Ken Kawashima [Patreon Preview]
Play • 9 min

In this preview of a patron-exclusive episode, Ken Kawashima discusses intermediary exploitation (中間搾取, chūkan sakushu) as a form of capitalist exploitation that indirectly exploits the labour power of workers through various intermediaries such as sub-contractors, labour brokers, and temp agencies who pinch a portion of the workers' wage as fees for finding work, providing housing, tools, and other "services." 

This form of exploitation has served as a control mechanism to discipline a mass of unemployed or semi-employed workers whom Marx referred to as a relative surplus population or the reserve army of labour such as the Korean peasants in the interwar period who migrated to Japan in search of wage labour. Since these migrants were rarely able to find long-term employment in factories with Japanese workers, they were funneled into the construction industry through the day labour market, and were forced to rely on these intermediaries to find work.

The existence of surplus populations has become a chronic feature of capitalism in the stage of imperialism afflicted by permanent crisis, particularly acute in colonized and semi-colonized countries in the Global South. This points to the necessity to re-think the concept of the proletariat from the position of having to sell their labour power, and include workers outside of the factory system as part of the proletariat.

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