Child labor continues under capitalism

Girls aged 10 and 12 working in a textile mill, North Carolina, 1908.

By Leonard Zorfass, Red Phoenix correspondent, New Jersey.

Recent revelations of child labor abuses in the United States have highlighted the exploitation of vulnerable children in our society, particularly those from marginalized communities and migrant workers. The prevalence of child labor is a clear example of the exploitation of the working class, and capitalism’s prioritization of profit over the well-being of workers, especially for children of color and the children of immigrants. 

According to a report by the Human Rights Watch, children as young as 12 are working on tobacco farms in the United States, exposing them to toxic pesticides and nicotine poisoning. The report also found that children of color are more likely to be subjected to hazardous working conditions and long hours, perpetuating systemic racism and economic inequality.

The manufacturing industry is also guilty of exploiting child labor. A report by the Fair Labor Association found that children as young as six are being forced to work in garment factories in the United States, often for less than minimum wage and in hazardous conditions. Children of color are disproportionately affected, as they are more likely to come from low-income families and have fewer opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty, while migrants often have no choice but for their children to work alongside them. No family would want to see their child forced to work, but the class system has created such a degenerated state of humankind, that parents must send their children to perform labor for the survival of the family.  

The use of child labor in the United States is not a new phenomenon, and it has a long history of being tied to racism and economic exploitation. During the early 20th century, Black and immigrant children were often subjected to exploitative labor practices in agriculture and manufacturing, further perpetuating their marginalization and creating the material basis on top of which social chauvinists germinate. In the 21st century, the largest difference is merely visibility of these disgusting practices. 

Capitalism, and class society as a whole, reinforces the idea that education and work are mutually exclusive, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and exploitation. This is particularly true for children of color who face systemic barriers to education and career opportunities. By perpetuating the myth that working is the only viable option for low-income families, the capitalist social and economic structure continues to further the exploitation and marginalization of these communities.

These recent reports of child labor abuses in the United States are a stark reminder of the systemic exploitation of the working class, particularly children of color, under capitalism. To address the issue of child labor and its disproportionate impact on children of color, we must address the root causes of oppression and economic inequality. This requires a revolutionary breaking of the system of private property and the construction of a modern socialist society.

Categories: Immigration, Labor, U.S. News

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