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, 22 December 2019

Talking about Resistance – inside Bolsonaro’s Brazil

Photo by gaby_bra
From 3 to 10 December, I visited Sao Paulo/Brazil for several lectures and also had the opportunity to speak to representatives of the local metalworkers’ trade union as well as the Florestan Fernandes National School (ENFF) of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), outside the city. In this blog post, I will reflect on comrades’ perceptions about how the rise of the right in Brazil around Bolsonaro can be contested and what the future may hold for radical social movements. 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Where next for Labour?

The outcome of the 2019 UK general elections dealt a huge blow to the Labour Party and its policy programme around issues of social justice. In this post, I am reflecting on the causes of the defeat, the things to come as well as possible next steps for the party. I will argue that we must not succumb to the vilification of Jeremy Corbyn, be it by the right-wing media, be it by the right inside our own party.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Revisiting the 'Mode of Production': Enduring Controversies over Labour, Exploitation and Historiographies of Capitalism

The Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at the University of Nottingham organised a one-day workshop Revisiting the ‘Mode of Production’: Enduring Controversies over Labour, Exploitation and Historiographies of Capitalism on the 1st July 2019. The event was dedicated to the re-examination of two important debates in historical materialism related to the conceptualisation of the mode of production and domestic labour that were thriving in the 1970s and attracted fresh interest more recently. The organisers of the event were delighted to host two distinguished contributors, Jairus Banaji and Silvia Federici as keynote speakers who presented alongside other prominent authors, including Andreas Bieler, Tony Burns, Neil Davidson, Jens Lerche, Alessandra Mezzadri and Benno Teschke. In this guest post Jokubas Salyga and Kayhan Valadbaygi share video-recorded proceedings of the event.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Public Water for the Many

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to turn the current general elections into a contest over Brexit, it is Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which offers a real political alternative including wide-ranging plans for renationalizing key services such as the railways, energy, postal services and water. In this blog post, I discuss the lessons to be learned from struggles over public water across Europe.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Don’t write Labour off just yet! The UK 2019 general elections

Greg Marshall, Labour
With a bit more than three weeks to go until the general elections on 12 December, the Labour Party trails the Conservatives in the polls. As two years ago, many election observers write off the party’s chances to form the next government. To what extent are these assessments based on developments on the ground?

In this blog post, I reflect on Labour's chances in the forthcoming elections based on my own campaign experience in Broxtowe. 

Friday, 25 October 2019

SIGTUR – Labour Internationalism in the Global South

In his recently published monograph Labour Internationalism in the Global South: The SIGTUR Initiative (Cambridge University Press, 2019) Robert O’Brien has made a major contribution to our understanding of the possibilities for, but also obstacles to, transnational solidarity across borders in the 21st century. In this blog post, I will provide some reflections on this fascinating book.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Understanding Neoliberalism

Forty years after Mrs Thatcher’s first election victory, the term ‘neoliberal’ remains the basic shorthand term for the new form of capitalism that replaced the post-1945 settlement in all parts of the world. When the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, for a brief period it seemed that this new form might be challenged, but the threat to international trade and finance was headed off by a coordinated effort in which the major powers, joined in the G20 by a wider group of states, intervened on a massive scale in the money markets.

Their success in re-establishing order, and even resuming economic growth, was however aimed at propping up the world of high finance and global corporations, with the costs imposed on the rest of us. In this guest post, Hugo Radice reflects on the following two questions: 

- First, why did so few experts predict such a devastating breakdown in financial markets? 

- Second, why were our rulers able to re-establish business as usual with such ease?

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis: first reviews available online.

In May 2018, Adam D. Morton’s and my co-authored research monograph Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis was published with Cambridge University Press (see New Research Monograph Published). Since then a number of reviews have been published, all freely available on the internet. This blog post brings them together.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Global Climate Emergency: Preventing fatal “future facts” from becoming reality

Photo by Friends of the Earth Europe
Just after millions of people had protested across the world demanding urgent action on the ecological emergency of climate change on 20 and 27 September (The Guardian, 27 September 2019), the IPCC released yet another devastating report. According to this report on oceans and the cryosphere (the frozen parts of the planet), the average global sea level rose by 15 cm during the 20th century. Nevertheless, if carbon emissions do not reduce sufficiently to achieve the COP21 Paris goal of 1.50C then sea level rises could exceed 1 metre by the end of the century, and 5.4 metres by 2300 under “high emissions scenarios”. Not only would this threaten coastal populations (and many of our megacities are coastal), the change to oxygen levels and acidity of the oceans would have dire consequences for ecosystems. In this guest post, Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan reflect on the climate crisis drawing on their recently published Globalizations “Global Climate Emergency” special editorial essay.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The reality of precarious work in Brexit Britain

While the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson praises the country’s golden future as soon as Brexit has been accomplished by 31 October, increasing social inequality in the UK has dropped off the agenda. However, nine years of Conservative and Conservative-led governments have left their mark with many people stranded in abject poverty. The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty Philip Alston recently referred to government policy as "designing a digital and sanitised version of the 19th Century workhouse, made infamous by Charles Dickens" (BBC, 22 May 2019). In this blog post, I will look at precarious employment as one of the key causes of inequality.

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.