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.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Trade unions as a battleground for the minds of workers: Trotsky and the role of the vanguard party.

The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci was not very optimistic about the potential transformative, revolutionary role of trade unions. ‘Trade unionism’, he argued, ‘stands revealed as nothing other than a form of capitalist society, not a potential successor to that society. It organises workers not as producers, but as wage-earners’ (Antonio Gramsci, 'Trade Unions and the Dictatorship' (25 October 1919), in SPWI, 1910-1920, p.110). In this blog post, I will critically engage with a collection of Trotsky’s writings on trade unions - Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay (Pathfinder Press, 1990) – to establish whether he was more optimistic about the potential role of trade unions in resistance to capitalist exploitation.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The white terror – Déjà vu about fascism and the reactionary turn of our time.

In the summer of 1980, Italian fascists blew up the central station in “red” Bologna. 85 people were killed, more than 200 were wounded. The terrorists had close ties to the Italian military intelligence and NATOs secret stay-behind groups. In Norway in the summer of 2011, two fascist lone wolf terrorist attacks were carried out against the government square block and the Youths Labor party summer camp, claiming the lives of 77 people and wounding more than 300. August 2nd in Italy and July 22nd in Norway are both markers of the worst terrorist acts in post-war Western Europe. In this guest post, Idar Helle, a member of the Transnational Labour Project in Oslo, reviews the book by Eystein Kleven 22. juli-terroren: Angrepet på arbeiderbevegelsen [The terror of 22nd of July: The attack on the labor movement] (Marxist publishing 2011, 42 pages).

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Si, se puede - New forms of resistance in Spain: the case of the anti-eviction platform PAH!

During the last two days, I have attended the conference Keys to the Crisis in Europe, organized by ATTAC Norway in Oslo. In this blog post, I will report on the presentation by a representative of the Spanish social movement PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), organizing in support of those, who are threatened with eviction from their homes, because they can no longer service their mortgages.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Poverty of Capitalism and the struggle for another world.

The current global economic crisis has been covered extensively within academic literature and the wider (social) media alike. Few, however, have tackled the topic with the ambition of questioning capitalism itself. John Hilary’s book The Poverty of Capitalism: Economic Meltdown and the Struggle for What Comes Next (Pluto Press, 2013) is a welcome exception here. In this blog post, I will provide a critical engagement with this excellent analysis of capitalist crisis and moves towards alternatives. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Why socialism can be nothing else than ‘real’: Lessons from ‘really existing socialism’ – Part II.

In Part I of this essay, we have seen some of the oppositions used in thinking about socialist economies (static vs. dynamic, closed vs. open economies, plan vs. market coordination). In this second part, I will deal with some of the premises on which thinking about the social consequences of socialist economies is based. I will look more particularly at the role of consumerist desires and informal networks of relations as a way to challenge how we think about both socialism and capitalism today.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Why socialism can be nothing else than ‘real’: Lessons from ‘really existing socialism’ – Part I.

There is widespread consensus today, right and left of the political spectrum, that ‘really existing socialism’ in the Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe was a proven historical failure to construct society on the basis of collective property and common access to resources produced in a society. In this guest post, Sabina Stan from the Transnational Labour Project in Oslo critically questions this understanding and asks what the real lessons from ‘really existing socialism’ are for the understanding of today’s capitalism.