"Regulatory theater in the pork industry: How the capitalist state harms workers, farmers, and unions."


The United States pork sector generates billions of pounds of food and billions of dollars of sales and tax revenue per year. This industry has also generated hundreds of workers’ deaths from covid infections, thousands of workers’ injuries from hazardous working conditions, economic and environmental depletion of communities near production sites, and the massive decline of small hog farming operations – not to mention over a billion tons of fecal waste per year. Although pork companies, like most firms in the food industry, portray state regulation as a burden for commercial interests, we identify how the pork industry enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the state to create favorable conditions for three interrelated processes: 1) monopoly and monopsony power; 2) hyper-efficient but injurious working conditions; 3) union busting. Using structural contradictions theory, we explain the failure to protect workers, farmers, and communities as a feature of the fundamental contradiction between protection and accumulation within the capitalist state.


Ivy Ken · Kenneth Sebastian León

Crime, Law and Social Change