Spaces of Labor: Introduction



Welcome to the 33rd issue of The Funambulist. Although our issues have always been edited in an anti-capitalist spirit, this may be the first one to approach directly this gigantic machine of land and labor exploitation. The urgency that characterizes our will to dedicate an issue to a specific topic came last summer, whilst watching Stan Neumann’s film The Time of the Workers (2020) for the French-German TV channel, Arte. In it, one affirmation in particular opened my eyes to a connection that I had so far missed. Interviewed in a formal rural hamlet of the Scottish Highlands, social historian Arthur McIvor explains that in the 18th and 19th centuries, the working class was formed from farmers who had been subjected to the political process of “clearances.” These “clearances” consisted of a rationalization of agriculture, which involved the violent eviction of farmers from their land and the destruction of their homes. Such a rationalization was made to profit families and clans who have made a fortune out of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the plantations in colonized Carribeans and North America. The largest industrialized system of dispossession and transcontinental deportation of millions of Africans in history is thus directly connected to the making of the British working class whose exploited labor will be used for the industrial revolution.