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.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Privatisation by stealth: ongoing struggles for public water in Italy.

On 12 and 13 June 2011, the Italian Water Movements Forum secured a clear victory in the referendum against water privatisation. More than 57 per cent of the Italian electorate cast their vote and both questions related to water had been approved by a majority of more than 95 per cent (see Road to Victory). And yet, the implementation of the referendum outcome, legally binding according to the Italian Constitution, has been slow ever since (see La lotta continua). Based on a series of interviews with water activists carried out at the end of May 2018, in this post I will assess the current situation in the struggle for public water in Italy.

Friday, 22 June 2018

A Resurgence of Strikes? Workers’ Movements and Strikes in the Twenty-First Century.

Twenty-first century working class struggles have seen alliances of working people in response to issues such as climate change, immigrant rights, informalization of work and the political-economic crisis across the globe. A glance at protests over the recent years shows the increasing relevance of strike movements within social movements in general, but research and media reports on work and working conditions rarely look at this big picture. Rather, strikes are most of the time seen as “non-movements” (Asef Bayat). They are more often conceived of as spontaneous unrest in everyday life rather than as important political events. By contrast, in this guest post, Jörg Nowak, Madhumita Dutta and Peter Birke introduce their co-edited volume Workers’ Movements and Strikes in the Twenty-First Century (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018), which asks how to make sense of a seemingly decentralized, even fragmented, and massive although sometimes hidden, sometimes very visible world of labour conflicts.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A Crisis of Crisis Management Continues in Greece: “Sudden Death for the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko? We Say No!”

Over a period of eight years and three programmes of financial assistance Greece has never been far from the news. Recent reporting has become more positive in outlook, dominated by discussion about whether the Syriza-led coalition government will be able to make a clean exit from its third ‘Economic Adjustment Programme’. A clean exit would mean the Greek government being able to finance spending commitments and its enormous public debt through bond markets, without any further loans from European partners or even a pre-cautionary line of credit from the IMF. Greece’s ability to go it alone after 20th August (although with regular ‘post-programme surveillance’ as the likes of Ireland and Portugal have experienced) relies on perceptions from its creditors and financial markets about the government’s ongoing commitment to the types of austerity and so-called ‘structural reforms’ that have dominated all three programmes. In this guest post, Jamie Jordan assesses the implications of Greece going it alone with a particular focus on the future of the Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

The Labour governments 1974–1979: social democracy abandoned?

Drawing on his article 'The Labour governments 1974–1979: social democracy abandoned?’, recently published in the academic journal British Politics, in this guest post Max Crook questions the view that the Labour government in office from 1974 to 1979 started the transition to neo-liberalism in the UK. He, thus, challenges structural approaches to social democratic decline. In his focus on electoral politics, he makes two key claims: Firstly, Labour did not abandon the social democratic postwar consensus. Any fundamental challenge to it remained politically unthinkable. Secondly, the eventual collapse of the consensus was not the product of structural changes in the global economy, but was the highly contingent outcome of an electorally motivated gamble.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Global Capitalism. Global War. Global Crisis: new research monograph published.

Global Capitalism. Global War. Global Crisis. How can these conditions be understood in terms of their internal relationship so as to capture capital’s connection to the states-system of uneven and combined development, social reproduction, and the contradictions facing humanity within world-ecology? These are the puzzles Adam David Morton and I are investigating in our recently published book with Cambridge University Press.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Greece under the Troika: colonialism and resistance in the 21st century - the struggle for public water.

When in May 2014 98 per cent of Thessaloniki’s citizens voted against the privatisation of their municipal water company EYATH and the Greek constitutional court, the Council of State, ruled out the privatisation of Athens’ water company EYDAP as unconstitutional shortly afterwards, the public ownership of these two companies seemed to have been secured (see Resisting water privatisation in Greece and Portugal). And yet, when the Syriza government signed the third bailout agreement of Greece in July 2015, the privatisation of water was back on the agenda. In this blog post, I will report on the struggle over public water since July 2015, based on a set of semi-structured interviews with water activists in Thessaloniki and Athens in April 2018. 

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Serving the interests of capital: the role of economics as an academic discipline.

Photo by 401 (K) 2012
Two months ago, I sat in the coffee bar of the Quinn Business School, University College Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. While responding to some emails, I happened to overhear the conversation of some excited students at the neighbouring table. They had just learned about how private equity (PE) firms can come in, buy up ailing companies and still make high profits when they get rid of these companies again, even if these companies should ultimately fail. There was no concern about the implications for the workers of these companies, who would be made unemployed in the process. There was no concern for the wider community around this company, suffering from high unemployment in the area as a result of the PE firm’s involvement. In this blog post, I am reflecting on the role of economics as an academic discipline resulting in an education of this type. In particular, I will argue that instead of being an academic discipline focusing on the critical enquiry of societal developments, economics has deteriorated into an ideology in the service of capital.