“the Webbs, authors and social critics, also promoted the idea that major institutional forces in the industrial age- capital, government, and labor organizations- all had important roles to play in maintaining a semblance of balance. In Industrial Democracy, published in 1897, the Webbs described unions as entities that would check the excesses of impersonal, large-scale capitalism. They coined the term “collective bargaining” to designate the method by which industry and labor would together rectify their relationship’s inherent inequalities.” pg.227 There is Power in a Union, Philip Dray
Sorry for the long quote but that to me is a really important idea. I really do think the relationship between capital and labor is inherently unequal. For one purely logistically it’s a lot easier for capital to act in concert as it’s typically concentrated in one person or a small group of people. The fact there isn’t a second term ‘organized capital’ attests to this. Secondly, what is capital? It’s money! If in the course of a dispute, if it needs to capital can use some of its funds on political activities as opposed to economic ones. So capital has labor naturally beat on resources and organization.
Left unchecked, what does capital do? Well, the core struggle between capital and labor is how to divy up the profits. So more will go to capital, less to labor. This leads to a society with greater stratification of wealth. Societies with greater stratification of wealth have less stable economies, and more violent business cycles. That sounds scary. It also sounds like our world now. Society, the economy is global now. But what about that picture from earlier, where capital, government and labor organization all play a role in maintaining balance? Well capital by nature had a pretty easy transition to operating on a global scale. But there is no global government with the authority to be a mediator in capital/labor disputes. And far from growing in the age of globalization, organized labor has been put on the retreat by it. So capital is unchecked. And what do we see? Stratification of wealth.