Expected Graduation Date
From the nineteenth century transatlantic slave trade to the contemporary era of mass incarceration, capitalism's entanglement with unfree labor has been the subject of scholarly research from Karl Marx's Capital, Vol I. (1867) to Eric Williams' Capitalism and Slavery (1944) to Dennis Childs' Slaves of the State (2015). However, with more people enslaved today than all of the people violently seized from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade (Bales, 2012, p. 9) and capitalism persisting as the predominant worldwide economic system, a critical analysis of the structural relationship between capitalism and unfree labor remains all too pertinent in the twenty-first century, especially if we as a society truly wish to abolish all modes of unfree labor.
Hence, the purpose of this investigation into capitalism and unfree labor in the twenty-first century is to examine prevalent forms of unfree labor which exist in the present day capitalist mode of production, namely unfree prison labor, unfree migrant labor, and unfree international labor. The conclusion to this research suggests that the production and exploitation of unfree laborers is the result of a structural tendency inextricable to the framework of capitalism itself. With a "werewolf hunger for surplus labor [ and maximizing surplus-value]" (Marx, 1867, p. 291), capital in the twenty-first century continues to commandeer a panoply of state institutions and functions responsible for incarceration, immigration, and international trade in order to "force the cost of labor back towards[ ... ] zero" (Marx, 1867, p. 657).
Blaisdell, Nicolas, "An Investigation into Capitalism and Unfree Labor in the Twenty-First Century" (2018). Commonwealth Honors College Theses and Projects. Paper 15.