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 April 2022

The Critique of Commodification: Moving towards a use-value society?

In his new book
The Critique of Commodification – Contours of a Postcapitalist Society (OUP, 2021) Christoph Hermann critical investigates the concept of commodification and relates the associated dynamics to current political economy developments. Importantly, he demonstrates how production for profit instead of human needs results in enormously harmful consequences for humanity and nature alike. In this blog post, I will discuss some of the key contributions of this highly important book.

 

Friday, 11 March 2022

The Limits to Commercial Capitalism

In his latest book A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism (Haymarket Books, 2020), Jairus Banaji provides a masterful overview of historical trading relationships in Europe. At the same time, this book also reveals once more the limits of an understanding of capitalism, focused on market exchange relations. In this blog post, I will provide a critical review drawing out the weaknesses of such an approach.


Friday, 4 March 2022

Capitalist expansion, the war in Ukraine and three decades of missed opportunities in Europe

There had been huge hopes for a peaceful, prosperous future in a united Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Three decades later, the war in Ukraine has brought these hopes to an end. In this post, I will argue that the seeds for the current crisis were sown right at the beginning of the post – Cold War period in the 1990s, when capitalist social relations of production were imposed on Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) backed up by NATO military power.

 

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Workers solidarity in the EU multilevel system: When and where can it occur?

Trade unions have the task to organise collectively and establish relations of solidarity amongst working people. And yet, they have often found it difficult to extend this solidarity across borders within the European Union (EU). In this blog post, I will argue that while the capitalist dynamics of Uneven and Combined Development (U&CD) make transnational solidarity often difficult, it is not impossible either. Especially if we expand our understanding of labour movements beyond trade unions and also include social movements such as environmental groups in our definition, then labour movements have on a number of occasions demonstrated their ability to defend the interest of society against capitalist exploitation. Most notably, I will refer to the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) ‘Water and Sanitation are a Human Right’ as well as the resistance against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).


Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Engaging the Imperial Mode of Living

In their powerful book The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism (Verso, 2021), Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen demonstrate how our life in the capitalist centres and its dominant forms of production, distribution and consumption can only be maintained, because the related social and ecological costs are externalised to other parts of the world. Published originally in German in 2017, this volume is now also available to the English reading audience. In this blog post, I will draw out some of the authors’ crucial findings.

 

Friday, 24 December 2021

Business as usual: on re-establishing ‘order’ in British politics.


There is a sense of excitement in the current reporting on developments in British politics. The Labour Party is leading in opinion polls vis-à-vis the Conservative government (politics.co.uk, 22 December 2021), a big back bench rebellion against the Prime Minister Boris Johnson over Covid measures adds to the tensions (The Guardian, 14 December 2021), and then a massive swing in a byelection results in a new Liberal MP (The Guardian, 17 December 2021). Earlier, the media reported positively on Labour Party Keir Starmer’s re-shuffling of his shadow cabinet, who has ‘chosen shadow ministers for their perceived ability’ (Peston, 29 November 2021). Apparent disagreements between Starmer and the deputy party leader Angela Rayner provide further excitement (Kuenssberg, 29 November 2021). The message is clear, we are back to business as usual. 

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Staff working conditions are student learning conditions – more than just a slogan!

Yet again, staff at universities across the UK are out on strike to defend their working conditions and pensions. Unsurprisingly, university management tries to pit students against staff. Students, however, are not falling for this. They realise that drastic cuts to staff pay and working conditions is mirrored in a deterioration in student learning conditions especially since the 2007/2008 global financial crisis.