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wage labor

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Wage labor is the condition of a person working for an employer, for some set of goods or money. Anarchists alternatively call this condition wage slavery for several reasons. First of all, under this system the worker does not receive the full compensation for one's work or job. A wage slave cannot obtain the full fruits of his or her labour because, by the very nature of the employer-employee relationship, the employer gets a fraction of a worker's production. This means that the worker actually surrenders part of his time, effort, and energy to his employer--it is a parasitic relationship at the cost of the worker. For example, let's assume that a worker creates a product worth $10 more than the cost to produce it; this worker cannot receive all of that money, because one's boss needs some for oneself. Thus it is actually the worker who is paying the boss, not the other way around.

Second, for a wage slave, his job controls most aspects of his life. Almost always, his schedule, time, energy, and effort are under the direct control of his employer. Most usually, so is his general appearance (especially hairstyle), something that should be entirely personal.

Third, a wage slave cannot usually limit or end one's servitude to his employer. A wage slave can't say one doesn't want to do something, or that he doesn't feel like coming in on a given day, or he'll be fired. The only excuses for not doing what one is told are sickness and disability. And a wage slave can't really quit to find a less slave-like job, because in such a society, all jobs are like slavery. So the options are to obey and stay, die of starvation, or become a vagrant, which is illegal.

Most anarcho-socialists consider that the employer-employee relationship is based on coercion by the employer. They argue that the oppressive restrictions of public and private property, upheld variously by states, corporations, and individuals, allow employers to blackmail employees into working for use of resources that they would otherwise have free access to either individually through mutualist banks or collectively through voluntarily associated communes and syndicates. Anarcho-socialists claim that such oppression should be resisted. However, they generally follow Kant in maintaining that freedom can not be given as a privilege by some third party, but must instead be won through the struggles of the oppressed themselves. As such, anarcho-socialists encourage employees to resist and obstruct economics based on hierarchical power and what they consider to be a form of wage slavery. This is known as direct action. Many also believe it is the obligation of anarchists to come to the aid of such groups when they call for help in their struggles. Ultimately, anarcho-socialists believe that all forms of hierarchy must be resisted, due to their coercive nature.

Anarcho-socialists argue that as no ordinary person (as opposed to someone who is independently wealthy) can refuse to work, so there is no freedom involved in the negotiation of a contract with an employer who has the ability to dictate the terms of any contract to dispossessed employees who amount to little more than wage slaves living at the whim of the wealthy.

Anarcho-socialists reject the claim that their objection to capitalist economics is based on the necessity of labor. They almost universally agree that some form of manual labor (which they often distinguish from work) is currently necessary. However, they do not agree that the necessity for manual labor requires that the form of this labor be dictated by privileged individuals who control the wealth and resources of the society. Instead, they argue that individual liberty requires that the laborers themselves control the means and mode of their labor, rather than having their actions dictated by others. Thus, those who are required to labor for survival should have representation in the use and distribution of the resources they interact with and distribute. Anarcho-socialists do not believe that the mere ability to disassociate from a given employer is an adequate form of representation, given that the employers as a class can continue to dictate use of resources and compel others into wage-slavery once the association is disbanded.

Furthermore, anarcho-socialists argue that being a servant with the "freedom" to choose your favorite master does not represent actual "freedom" in any meaningful sense. Often, they also argue that a worker's "freedom" to choose his employer is no different than that same worker's "freedom" to choose what state he lives under (by moving to another country if necessary), so anarcho-capitalism is inconsistent, because there is no real difference between the coercion of private companies and the coercion of the state - and thus it makes no sense to abolish one while preserving the other.

However, there are some anarcho-socialists who are anti-capitalist, pro-free market anarchists such as Benjamin Tucker (who identified his Individualist Anarchism as Anarchistic Socialism) who did not see a problem with wage labor as long as the employers and employees were paid equally for equal hours worked (a similar approach was put into action through Time Store which was organized by Josiah Warren) thus eliminating the economic parasitism of the boss class and therefore being anti-capitalist. Benjamin Tucker described the non-exploitive employer-employee relationship as "the workers natural wage, being their full product."

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