Neoliberalism’s Last Days: Amazon and the Rise of America’s New Working Classes

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Neoliberalism’s Last Days: Amazon and the Rise of America’s New Working Classes

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


This dissertation asks the questions: What is neoliberalism? How is it ending? And, from the perspective of political strategy, what can be done to make what emerges next more just? Drawing on long-wave Marxist theory, I argue neoliberalism is first and foremost a popular political bloc led by the financial and entrepreneurial wings of the bourgeoisie in alignment with broader ‘middle-layers’ in the US class structure. Rather than viewing neoliberalism as a process driven solely by the economic logic of the pursuit of surplus profits, I argue that creative destruction is a political process, with an ascendant neoliberal political bloc emerging in response to the profitability crisis in the 1960s. The neoliberal bloc sought to restore the rate of profit and US global economic hegemony, and to do so, aggressively suppressed the US working class directly through the exercise of political power, and indirectly through the structural reorganization of capital accumulation. The structural and organizational decomposition of the working class diminished its power, with large sections of the class protesting – often in vain - its dissolution via defensive struggles. Concomitantly, as the trajectory of long-wave shifted from the pursuit of surplus profits to the stabilization of the system to extract profits from new waves of fixed capital investment, neoliberal hegemony faces a legitimacy crisis. With right populism and reformed liberalism two competing blocs, the trajectory of the new bloc depends on the loyalty of the working classes. Today, the US working classes remain deeply fragmented and atomized despite re-composition into new spaces and workplaces, diminishing the ability of the class to exercise power to enact changes the class broadly desires. Strategically imperative to a more just future is creating new class organization that bridges the divides in the new working classes. I argue that is at the heart of working class re-composition in the United States, socializing both high skilled tech workers and diverse low wage suburban logistics workers into shared spaces of exploitation and domination. Structurally located in the heart of capital accumulation, organized Amazon workers contain both the potential structural and associational power to shift the dynamic of capitalist restructuring more in the working class’s favor as the long-wave cycle matures. Building autonomous class organization – at Amazon and in other workplaces and working class neighborhoods - is crucial for not just winning reforms, but also generating a counter-hegemonic force that, in the long-run, may challenge bourgeois political hegemony in an era of increasing calamity.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2022. Major: Geography. Advisor: Bruce Braun. 1 computer file (PDF); 336 pages.

Related to




Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Cox, Spencer. (2022). Neoliberalism’s Last Days: Amazon and the Rise of America’s New Working Classes. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.