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, 16 June 2021

Moving towards Trade Justice? Labour movements and ‘free trade’.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting global value chains and geo-political rivalry especially between China and the US, the global ‘free’ trade regime has come under increasing pressure. On 7 May 2021, trade union researchers, academics and activists came together for an online workshop co-organised by Oxford Brookes University and the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ), Nottingham University, to explore whether this could be the moment for labour movements from around the world moving towards an alternative trade regime, based on social justice. In this blog post, I will reflect on some of the key findings. 


Saturday, 12 June 2021

No Turning Back! Ten years after the victory of the Italian water movement against privatization.

Ten years ago on 12 and 13 June 2011, the Italian water movement gained a decisive victory against privatisation in a nation-wide referendum. For the first time in 16 years, it had again been possible to secure the quorum of at least 50 per cent plus one voter participating, necessary to make the referendum legally valid. In fact, just over 57 per cent of the electorate, more than 26 million Italians, cast their vote. The majorities in relation to the two questions on water were even more impressive. 95.35 per cent yes on the first question abolishing the legal obligation to privatise the management of water services; 95.80 per cent yes on the second question, removing the legal right of private investors to make seven per cent of profit on their running of water services (Fattori 2011). Together, both questions removed the rationale for private involvement in water distribution. In this blog post, drawing on my new book Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe (Zed Books/Bloomsbury, 2021) I will reflect on the underlying reasons of this success as well as the wider implications for the struggle over the human right to water. 


Thursday, 29 April 2021

Less is More? A review of Jason Hickel’s argument for degrowth.

In his book Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World (Penguin Random House, 2020), Jason Hickel provides a fascinating account of what is wrong with capitalism and how a shift to degrowth will allow us to move towards a post-capitalist world. There are a number of critical assessments of climate change and environmental destruction. Hickel stands out, however, by the way he clearly locates the roots of our problems in capitalism and acknowledges that overcoming these problems requires nothing else than transforming capitalism. In this blog post, I will draw out Hickel’s major contributions as well as provide a couple of critical reflections.

Friday, 9 April 2021

The Rise and Fall of Jeremy Corbyn

Three times, Jeremy Corbyn surprised his critics within the political establishment including many on the centre-right within the Labour Party and here especially the Parliamentary Labour Party as well as left-leaning journalists writing for newspapers such as the Guardian. First, nobody thought he would win the election to become party leader in 2015. This outcome had hardly sunk in, when people inside the party used the lost EU referendum in June 2016 to challenge his leadership. Again, Corbyn carried by a groundswell of grassroots support defied his critics and was returned as leader. Third, many had written Corbyn off prior to the June 2017 general elections, when Labour achieved one of its best results in years and the Conservatives lost their absolute majority in Parliament. The December 2019 general elections, however, brought this remarkable period in British politics to an abrupt end. In this post, I will reflect on the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn, the missed opportunities for radical, progressive change as well as the possible paths ahead. 

Monday, 29 March 2021

Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis: special review forum.

Global Capitalism, Global War, Global Crisis. Published by Adam D. Morton and myself in 2018, this book analyses how these conditions can be understood in terms of their internal relationship so as to capture capital’s connection to the states-system of uneven and combined development, social reproduction, and the contradictions facing humanity within world-ecology. In this blog post, I draw attention to a recently published Forum on this book by the journal International Relations with a range of exciting, critical interventions.


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The failure of Robin Hood Energy and the missing labour-centred perspective

The attempt to address energy poverty through a municipal, not-for-profit public company was as ambitious as it was path-breaking. And yet the failure of Robin Hood Energy, owned by Nottingham Council, in September 2020 has ultimately undermined all those, who work towards the re-municipalisation of utilities such as water, energy, the railways and postal services. In this blog post, I will reflect on a presentation by Steve Battlemuch about the failure of Robin Hood Energy to the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) in November 2020. While key reasons for the failure had already been known, this presentation revealed an additional, astonishing factor: a missing labour-centred perspective by the labour movement itself.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Call for Papers - Trade unions and Free Trade in the post-pandemic environment: moving towards trade justice?

Free trade has been criticised for some time as being an obstacle to independent development of countries in the Global South supporting working people’s real needs. The assumed benefits of free trade for people in the Global North too have come increasingly under scrutiny. Does COVID-19, which has demonstrated the fragility of the global free trade regime, open up new space for labour movements in their struggles for an alternative regime organised around principles of trade justice?


Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Labour Conflicts in the Global South

Against the background of the global economic crisis since 2007/2008 and increasing inequality across the world, we have experienced widespread, large-scale industrial action throughout the Global South, including in countries such as China, Brazil, India and South Africa, which had been hailed as the new growth engines of the global political economy as part of the so-called BRICS. In this blog post, I will introduce a new special issue of the journal Globalizations, dedicated to unravelling the underlying dynamics of these moments of contestation.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

An education system gone astray

On 5 January, the government cancelled all GCSE and A-level exams in England for the summer 2021, following similar decisions by the devolved governments of Wales and Scotland. The announcement was greeted with an outcry by many pupils and their parents. The cancellations were called a ‘big disappointment’ by some, apparently potentially preventing students to reach their full potential and endangering their future career prospects (BBC, 5 January 2021). Why is it that many pupils and their parents are so unhappy about the cancellation of an enormously intensive set of exams? 


Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Beyond “Koyaanisqatsi”: Reimagining Civilization

There is an emerging view in the present crisis, illustrated in recently burgeoning commentary across the globe, expressing a realization that our present form of world order and civilization has brought humanity and “nature” into a great crisis, and that we must act radically to transform the foundations. In this guest post, Barry Gills argues that the combination, or “triple crisis,” of the three Cs – Climate, Capitalism, and COVID-19 – has brought forward a momentum to address the fundamental causes of this crisis.