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.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Wellsprings of resistance – struggles over water in Europe

The question of who controls water and for what purpose makes water inherently political. Whether it’s water sources, water production such as desalination plants and waste treatment, or water services, private industry and financial markets are approaching water as the “it” commodity of the coming decade. Water grabbing is a form of accumulation by dispossession. Risk is shifted from private investors to the public whilst profits are siphoned off in the opposite direction. In this guest post, Madelaine Moore draws on her recent Rosa Luxemburg publication Wellsprings of Resistance.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

“Europe is at a crossroad, and so are trade unions”. Interview with Andreas Bieler.

From the early 1980s onwards workers’ rights across Europe have been greatly cut back, especially with regards to collective bargaining and trade unions’ involvement in government decision-making. GDP kept growing, but the distribution has been so uneven that many people have lost out as a result. Is there an alternative to this that might lead to greater social equality? I was recently interviewed by the Italian online magazine ytali. We discussed neo-liberal restructuring across the EU, the related increasing social inequality, the rise of nationalism and potential progressive alternatives underpinned by social justice. I argued that “organised labour has realised it needs a much broader agenda to stay relevant, so it is starting to participate on issues such as water, energy and democracy”.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

What's wrong with post-Keynesian accounts of the Eurozone crisis?

Photo by UggBoy - Ugg Girl
There is general agreement that the Eurozone crisis has had a devastating impact on countries in Europe’s periphery, especially in the south. This is expressed in record levels of unemployment, social inequality and widespread social deprivation. However, there is little agreement amongst academic accounts on the causes of the crisis, nor on how this can be resolved. In this guest post, Jamie Jordan reports on the recently published article in the Journal of Common Market Studiesco-authored by him, Andreas Bieler and Adam David Morton. The article ‘EU aggregate demand as a way out of crisis?’ critically engages post-Keynesian accounts on both the economic causes of the crisis and the political possibilities for realising a European-wide recovery.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Witch-Hunt and the Birth of Capitalism: reflections on Federici’s re-interpretation of primitive accumulation.

In her powerful book Caliban and the Witch (Autonomedia 1998/2014), Silvia Federici makes the important claim that the medieval witch-hunt across Europe constituted part of the processes of primitive accumulation, preparing the ground for the emergence of capitalism. While the enclosures put an end to people’s access to the commons, the witch-hunt resulted in the loss of women’s control over their bodies. In this blog post, I will reflect critically on Federici’s assessment of the role of the witch-hunt in the emergence of capitalism.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

European integration and the Global Crisis: What prospects for a social Europe?

How does the project of European integration relate to globalization? Is a revival of the project of social Europe still possible and what role can social movements and class based movements play in these struggles? I met Cat Moir (CM) from the University of Sydney on the fringe of this year’s Historical Materialism Sydney conference in December 2018. In this post, I re-publish the interview she conducted with me during that meeting. It was originally published on the Progress in Political Economy blog on 10 January 2019. We talked about class, social reproduction, and the crisis in the European project, thereby also drawing on my recently published, co-authored book with Adam D. Morton Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis (CUP, 2018).

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

A social dimension to ‘free trade’? TUC Strategies and the GATT Social Clause, 1973–1994.

The rise of ‘new generation’ trade agreements such as TTIP and CETA, the ongoing debates surrounding Brexit, and the Trump administration’s aggressive protectionism have seen the issue of trade move away from being merely the preserve of pro-liberalisation lawyers and economists towards a much more public debate on the social costs of free trade policies. Alongside this debate, trade unions and civil society organisations have taken to the streets to oppose free trade agreements in record numbers. Trade is most certainly now a mainstream issue. Nonetheless, such opposition has still failed to curb the overwhelmingly neoliberal tendencies of world trade in general. In this guest post, Andrew Waterman discusses efforts to include a social dimension in trade agreements.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

100 years on – Rosa Luxemburg’s legacy continues!

Memorial to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
100 years ago, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered in Berlin by right-wing Freikorps troops. When I participated on Sunday, 13 January in a march in memory of both revolutionaries in Berlin, it was clear that their legacy lives on. Thousands of people walked to the Memorial of the Socialists (Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten) to show their respect as well as their commitment to carry on the struggle against capitalist exploitation and for social justice. In this blog post, I will reflect on Luxemburg's key intervention about 'socialist democracy' in the organisation of revolutionary struggle.