The purpose of this blog is to provide analytical commentary on formal and informal labour organisations and their attempts to resist ever more brutal forms of exploitation in today’s neo-liberal, global capitalism.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Greece, the Eurozone crisis and the end of European solidarity?

Image by Wikimedia Commons
After five years of imposed austerity, the Greek economy is on its knees. GDP has declined by 25 per cent, unemployment is at 26 per cent with youth unemployment above 50 per cent. And yet, all the EU has got on offer for Greece is yet more austerity in exchange for a third bailout agreement (BBC, 13 July 2015). Pension reform will be part of the deal agreed at the marathon meeting of eurozone leaders on July 12, as is further privatisation and labour market liberalisation. EU agents will be given oversight of Greek government spending, including a new independent fund that will monetise €50bn in state assets to repay debts.

There is no sign of European solidarity in this deal. It is a punishment handed down to Greece for daring to say no to austerity. The EU was established on the principles of cooperation and mutual support – and many are now wondering what has happened to those aspirations. But solidarity fell by the wayside some time ago in Europe. This is just the most recent example of how European integration today is about profit maximisation for capital – not about cooperation between European people.


Monday, 6 July 2015

Axis of Evil or Access to Diesel? Reflections on the Iraq war.

Photo by Mark Rain
Did the Iraq war simply reflect the unitary decision by the U.S. state to assert its interests in the global political economy or was it the result of co-operation by a group of allied capitalist countries to secure access to oil in the Middle East? Alternatively, did the use of military force reflect the interests of an emerging transnational state? My latest article with Adam Morton, entitled ‘Axis of Evil or Access to Diesel? Spaces of New Imperialism and the Iraq War’ is now published in the journal Historical Materialism and attempts to address these questions.

We analyse the relationship between geopolitical and capitalist dynamics underlying the decision to go to war. Importantly, we argue that only through a focus on the internal relation between geopolitical and global capitalist dynamics can we begin to comprehend the way the Iraq War contributed to the continuation of capitalist accumulation through what we refer to as a strategy of bomb and build.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance.

While movements of resistance against neo-liberal globalization have increasingly become subject of analysis, there is little agreement on how to conceptualize such agency. In my recent article Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance, published in the on-line, open access academic journal Spectrum: Journal of Global Studies, I argue that a historical materialist analysis is necessary to capture the historical specificity of capitalism (see also Analysing exploitation and resistance). Nevertheless, a focus on class struggle does not imply a reductionist, economic determinist account. In order to include divisions along ethnicity and gender into analyses of class struggle, I suggest four concrete ways of how to conceptualise expanded forms of class struggle beyond the work place, including (1) Robert Cox’s focus on non-established, informal labour; (2) Harry Cleaver’s emphasis on the ‘social factory’; (3) Kees van der Pijl’s analysis of the extension of exploitation into the sphere of social reproduction; and (4) Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s grounding of analysis in the experience of the most exploited female workers in the Global South.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Going Beyond Academia: The Challenges of Engaged Research.

What is engaged research? How can it be made acceptable within academia and be useful for social movements? What is the relationship between engaged researchers and activists? Over 50 scholar-activists gathered at the University of Nottingham for the workshop on Going Beyond Academia, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) to discuss these issues and related themes. In this blog post, I will make some personal observations on some of the themes discussed at this fascinating and extremely productive workshop.


Friday, 5 June 2015

The Future of the Left – Where next for Britain’s labour movement?

‘The Conservatives are not invincible – splits over the forthcoming EU referendum and their small majority in parliament are only two signs of their weakness. Together, the Left can stem the tide of austerity’, these were the words of the TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. In front of a full lecture theatre with 300 people, she delivered the first Ken Coates memorial lecture, organised by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) and the local University and College Union (UCU) association. In this post, I will draw out some of her key points.


Friday, 15 May 2015

Austerity and Resistance – Greece in the Eurozone crisis.

Concerns over Greece’s ability to pay back its debt continue unabated, with another crisis meeting of Eurozone finance ministers having taken place in Brussels on Monday, 11 May. While the media focuses on Greece’s ability to meet the conditions by the European Union, in this post Jamie Jordan and I have another look at some of the key underlying dynamics of the crisis.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Organising the Unorganisable? Voices from the Bottom Up.

As a result of neo-liberal restructuring, the informalisation of work in the global economy has been intensified. While precarious forms of labour have always been predominant in the Global South, they have increasingly also spread into the Global North. As a result, trade unions are under pressure, as it is much more difficult to organise a workforce in temporary, vulnerable and constantly changing employment relations. And yet, there are also examples of successful organising campaigns by precarious workers. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key themes, which were discussed at the excellent workshop Organising the Unorganisable, brought together by Maurizio Atzeni and held at Loughborough University on 23 and 24 April 2014.