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, 16 November 2018

Bilbao European Forum: The European left re-grouping towards another Europe?

Calling every European citizen! EUROPE MUST BE ON ALERT AND CALLED UP! Let’s recover over future! For a permanent collaboration and a convergent action between leftists, green and progressive forces in Europe – this was the call by left parties across the EU for their meeting in Bilbao, 9 to 11 November 2018. Over three days, representatives from across Europe met and discussed the danger of the rise of the far right, the possibilities for an ecological transition as well as a new economic order based on social justice and solidarity. In this blog post, I will critically reflect on this meeting.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Is Capitalism Associated with Different Forms of Exploitation?

In his book Theory As History (Brill Academic Publishers, 2010), Jairus Banaji makes the claim that we should not reduce a particular mode of production to one specific form of exploitation, such as the capitalist mode to wage labour. ‘Relations of production are simply not reducible to forms of exploitation, both because modes of production embrace a wider range of relationships than those in their immediate process of production and because the deployment of labour, the organisation and control of the labour-process, “correlates” with historical relations of production in complex ways’ (Banaji 2010, 41). Instead, Banaji introduces the notion of commercial or merchant capitalism from at least the 13th century onwards, based on the availability of finance and functioning institutions of long-distance trade, i.e. a ‘capitalism that invested widely in a range of economic sectors beyond commerce in its narrower definition’ (Banaji 2018). What this, however, overlooks is the centrality of wage labour in the capitalist mode of production and Marx’s insistence on exploitation taking place in the ‘hidden abode of production’ (see Modes of Production and Forms of Exploitation).

Distinguishing between a capitalist social formation and a capitalist mode of production, in this guest post Tony Burns provides a way of how we can retain the focus on the centrality of wage labour for capitalism, without overlooking the possibility of several forms of exploitation co-existing at the same time.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Capitalism in the Web of Life: Jason Moore on the exploitation of nature.

With the global economic crisis being anything but over, there are continuing struggles over how to respond to economic stagnation. While the right continues to push for austerity and neo-liberal restructuring and a new extreme right combines this with blaming migrants for economic woes, the left envisages a new role for the state in reviving economic fortunes. As different as these positions are, what they have all in common, though, is this view of nature as an external resource. In his fascinating book Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso, 2015), Jason Moore critically engages with this understanding and contrasts it with a dialectical position emphasising the internal relations between humans and nature. In this blog post, I will provide an overview of some of the key aspects of Moore’s argument.

Monday, 22 October 2018

The everyday life of Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis

Earlier this year, Adam D. Morton and I published our jointly-authored book Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis with Cambridge University Press. The book is wide-ranging and moves from meta-theoretical, to theoretical, to fine-grained empirical analysis of the agents and structures and thus the relations of force shaping class struggle in the contemporary world. In this blog post, we argue that the conceptual focus offered in the book is also relevant for activist struggles in everyday life.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Ryanair strike against low labour standards. Made simple.

“Ryanair must change”. This simple message, emblazoned on T-shirts in the familiar shades of yellow and blue, stood out loud and clear in airport lobbies of at least seven countries on 28 September. Workers gathered as early as 5.30 a.m. around placards and coffee thermoses to denounce Ryanair’s “low fares made simple” business model. In this guest post, Sara Lafuente Hern├índez, Stan De Spiegelaere and Bethany Staunton from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) report on an unprecedented transnational strike which involved thousands of employees and resulted in 250 cancelled flights across Europe.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Privatising Water as an Effective Route Towards Development?

In June 2010, the UN declared safe access to ‘clean drinking water and sanitation’ a human right. For many this highlighted the importance of water as the world’s most important natural resource for human life. Nevertheless, today many homes lack direct access to safe drinking water and rely on external, purified sources. This situation is all too common throughout the global south. By contrast, for the overwhelming majority in developed societies, access to safe water and sanitation is commonplace. Therefore, improving access to water is a global development issue. Accordingly, a central aim of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals was to halve ‘the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation’. In this guest post, Carlos Kassman assesses the possibilities of private water companies to assist in this respect by investigating cases of water privatisation in France, Argentina and West Africa.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Rupturing the Dialectic: Harry Cleaver on continuing class struggle against the imposition of work.

In his latest book Rupturing the Dialectic: The Struggle against Work, Money and Financialization (Chico/CA: AK Press, 2017), Harry Cleaver makes an emphatic case for the importance of a continuing focus on class struggle and here in particular the role of the working class rather than capital. Building on his seminal work Reading Capital Politically (1979), he re-asserts the key role of agency in our understanding of resistance against capitalist exploitation. In this blog post, I will assess the fundamental contributions of this volume.