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, 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 a drastic fall in staff pay and working conditions is mirrored in a deterioration in student learning conditions especially since the 2007/2008 global financial crisis.

 

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Nothing to Lose but our Chains: reflecting on workers’ key role in resisting capitalist exploitation.

There is widespread pessimism about workers’ potential to take successful industrial action in the UK today. Structural transformation from manufacturing into services and increasing precarisation would make resistance almost impossible. Not so writes Jane Hardy in her fascinating new book Nothing to lose but our chains: Work & Resistance in Twenty-First-Century Britain (London: Pluto Press, 2021). Workers continue to organise and challenge capitalist exploitation. There are no 'no go' areas for trade unions. In this post, I will review the key contributions and major claims made by Hardy.

 

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Our History is the Future: On Indigenous peoples' central role in overcoming capitalism!

In the autumn of 2016, a large alliance of Indigenous peoples and their non-Indigenous supporters blocked the path of yet another oil pipeline in North America, the Dakota Access Pipeline. At Standing Rock, people opposed the fossil fuel industry and protected water as the essential source of life. It is this moment of contestation, which is at the heart of Nick Estes' book Our History is the Future (Verso, 2019). In this blog post, I will outline several of Estes' key contributions.

 

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Is capitalism structurally indifferent to gender?

A sweep through key arguments about the abstracting logic of capital will yield a common emphasis, which is a stress on the “indifference” of capital to those it exploits. For sure this is evident in some of Marx’s own writings. Witness points in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts on how capital stands in an indifferent relationship to labour, with the latter existing as ‘liberated capital’. Or, equally, Marx’s more sophisticated point in Grundrisse that ‘since capital as such is indifferent to every particularity of its substance’ then ‘the labour which confronts it likewise subjectively has the same totality and abstraction in itself’.

 

More widely, though, this emphasis crops up in the writings of others, such as Moishe Postone, William Clare Roberts, or Martha Giménez. At first blush it may seem reasonable to contend at an abstract level that capitalism is “indifferent” to the social identities of the people it exploits. But does adhering to this form of abstraction result in a flawed theory of labour and social mediation under capitalism? As Doreen Massey reminds us, is there an abstracting logic here that fails to recognise that the world is not simply the product of the requirements of capital? Adam D. Morton and I pursue these questions (and more) in our latest article in Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space through an engagement with debates in Marxist Feminist social reproduction theory.

Monday, 2 August 2021

The fight over USS pensions and the role of the so-called ‘independent’ pensions regulator

Yet again, university employers (UUK) and the University and College Union (UCU) are at loggerheads over the future of the sector’s USS pension scheme. Interestingly, the ‘independent’
Pensions Regulator (TPR) has increasingly assumed a rather hawkish position deepening further the alarmist and reckless policies of USS managers. In this blog post, I will reflect on why TPR adopts such an interventionist position. 

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Transformation beyond Capitalism? The case for Degrowth!

The global pandemic of the coronavirus has demonstrated the dangers of continuing economic growth. Relentless human encroachment on nature has facilitate the transfer of dangerous viruses from animals to humans. Kallis, Paulson, D’Alisa and Demaria’s new book The case for Degrowth (Polity Press, 2020) makes an important argument for why humanity can no longer pursue economic growth policies. In this blog post, I will highlight some of the authors' key contributions.

 

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Fighting for Water book launch: Recording and Responses to questions.


In my new book Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe (Zed Books), I am investigating the underlying dynamics of the successful struggles against water privatization around the Italian referendum in 2011, the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Water and Sanitation are a Human Right’ in 2012/2013, the ongoing struggles against water privatization in Greece as well as the struggles against water charges in Ireland between 2014 and 2016. The online book launch hosted by the Fives Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham, UK on 7 July generated several interesting questions. In this blog post, there is first a link to the recording of the book launch, before I will address these questions.