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, 24 April 2014

Marxism, Social Movements and resistance to capitalist exploitation!

In the Theses On Feuerbach, Marx famously wrote that ‘the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it’ (Marx 1845). In their edited volume Marxism and Social Movements, Colin Barker, Laurence Cox, John Krinsky and Alf Gunvald Nilsen have lived up to this demand in that the contributions are directly informed by, and related to, concrete struggles. The collection of essays succeeds at not only assisting us in understanding, in interpreting the role of social movements in current struggles. It also helps us to reflect on strategies of resistance in order to improve them.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Trade Union Solidarity and Free Trade: The case of COSATU.

Do trade unions matter in the Twenty-First Century? How are they responding to ongoing processes of neoliberal restructuring? In particular, what obstacles do they face in developing transnational solidarity against the rise of free trade? What is clear is that national labour movements in different parts of the world have, at times, responded differently to the deepening of trade liberalisation in recent years. This is because the immediate impact they face differs depending on their place within the structure of the global economy. In his new academic article ‘The Congress of South African Trade Unions and Free Trade: Obstacles to Transnational Solidarity’, which is part of a special issue on Free Trade and Transnational Labour, Stephen Hurt explores these questions through a study of how the biggest trade union federation in South Africa – the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) – has reacted to both multilateral and bilateral trade liberalisation. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Another trade policy is possible! The proposals by the Alternative Trade Mandate.

Trade policy has been one of the great battle grounds for progressive movements around the globe. Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage, as elegant in principle as it can be dangerous in practice, has underpinned the spread of global neo-liberal ideology over the last century. Free Trade is now established as an unquestionable ‘good’ in the world and any attempt to question the wisdom of ever more open borders and ever fewer barriers to the rapid movement of goods and capital is seen in mainstream circles as nothing short of heresy. The few informed voices (such as that of the inestimable Ha Joon Chang) that have been raised to question the idea that ever freer trade is the fast track route to success for developing countries have been simply ignored. In this guest post, Toby Quantrill discusses the Alternative Trade Mandate and its efforts of putting forward proposals for an alternative European trade policy to the neo-liberal ‘free trade’ model, which is currently also dominating the EU.