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.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Brexit Britain – A World Turned Upside Down!

Photo by Tim Reckmann
Since the EU referendum in June 2016, Britain has tumbled from one extreme to another. Positions have hardened. Any compromise solution has become increasingly unlikely. The move by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament is only the most recent development in a string of drastic events. While legal in itself, the clear attempt to side-line Parliament in a decision of national importance goes completely against long-held democratic conventions, intensifying further the deep division across British society. A world turned upside down!

Friday, 30 August 2019

Globalisastion and Resistance: Explorations in Global Contestation

Photo by Robyn Jay
During the Spring semester 2019, students on the module Globalisation and Resistance in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham-UK carried out independent research projects. In addition to writing a 4000 word essay, they also composed shorter blog posts about their research projects for a wider audience. This post provides a brief introduction to the various posts, which are published on the blog Globalisation and Resistance.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Climate Struggle – a Struggle for Social Power!

Photo by Karlis Dambrans
Humanity is currently faced with a number of deep and challenging crises: economic, social, political, over food – and, of course, over climate change, which is threatening the very existence of millions of people. These crises have many of the same root causes, going to the core of our economic system. Both the economic crisis and the climate crisis are thus embedded parts of the capitalist economy. A system which is geared toward making profits rather than producing use values; dependent on economic growth (capitalism without growth is capitalism in crisis); a system exploiting workers and over-exploiting natural resources – one that is also about to destroy planet earth as a place to live for future generations.

In this guest post, Asbjørn Wahl reflects on how this multiplicity of crises does not only represent a threat, but also an opportunity. It can contribute to strengthening the mobilisation of social forces needed to break the current trend – in favour of a democratic and planned development of society.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Why Social Movements Matter: fighting for social justice.

In his recent book Why Social Movements Matter: an introduction (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2018) Laurence Cox provides a fascinating and highly stimulating engagement with social movements and popular struggles. He does much more than simply providing an accessible introduction. He develops a way of analysing and understanding social movements, which is fundamentally different from traditional, academic approaches. In this blog post, I will provide a critical engagement with Cox’s key contributions.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Marx at the Margins: towards a multilinear theory of history.

In his book Marx at the Margins: On Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Non-Western Societies (Chicago University Press, 2016) Kevin B. Anderson clearly demonstrates that Marx did not embrace a unilinear, economic determinist position on historical development. Rather, especially in his later writings he demonstrated a nuanced understanding of multilinear development including the possibility of transformation to communism without going first through a capitalist stage of development. In this blog post, I will engage with this highly important contribution to Marxist scholarship.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Higher Education for the Many!

The increase in tuition fees to £9000 per year and the removal of the cap, allowing Universities to recruit as many students as they want and can, has had dramatic consequences for Higher Education (HE) in the UK, limiting education to those who can pay for it. Developments at Nottingham’s universities are no exception in this respect. Only Labour’s policy of abolishing tuition fees, as outlined in the party’s 2017 Manifesto, can reverse this trend.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Crisis in the Eurozone: the illusion of development?

Post-Keynesians have delivered an important advance in providing explanations of the Eurozone Crisis, not the least in demonstrating how the formation of the European integration project lacked the means to manage effectively the macroeconomic imbalances between ‘core’ and ‘peripheral’ spaces across the region. In our recent article ‘EU aggregate demand as a way out of crisis?’, published in the Journal of Common Market Studies, Jamie Jordan, Adam David Morton and I provide a critical engagement with such descriptions. We argue that it is necessary to focus on the uneven and combined development of Europe’s ‘peripheral’ spaces and here in particular their integration into an expanded free trade regime since the 1980s in order to get a better understanding of the roots of the current crisis.

Photo by Chris Goldberg

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Labour’s woes over Brexit or No Brexit: don’t lose sight of the real problem - inequality!

Photo by ChiralJon
With all eight alternative options rejected by MPs tonight, the search for a way out of the Brexit impasse continues. As governing party, the splits in the Conservative party have been in the limelight, but Labour too is deeply divided. And positions become more entrenched. At local party meetings it is not uncommon to hear statements such as ‘if Labour backs a People’s Vote and betrays the electorate, I’ll never vote Labour again’ or ‘I would never forgive the Labour Party, if it ended up facilitating Brexit’. And yet, is there not the danger that we overlook the most pressing problem in this country, the exploding inequality in society?

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.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

'We are ready to defend ourselves!' Letter by indigenous nations to the new President of Brazil.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro as new President of Brazil has put indigenous people under renewed pressure. Only recently, loggers invaded indigenous territory and attacked indigenous people in the Xingu region in Para. This blog post reprints the letter of three indigenous nations from Brazil to President Bolsonaro, asserting their rights.