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.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Britain and the EU: a merchant’s perspective.

On Wednesday, 8 March a high profile panel discussed the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU at Nottingham University. Nottingham’s Vice Chancellor Professor David Greenaway was joined by Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary under Labour, Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in the coalition government of the Conservatives and his Liberal Democrats in 2010. Professor Panicos Demetriades, former governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, complemented the panel. Professor Jagjit Chadha of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research was the chair. In this blog post, I will briefly comment on the discussions, highlighting how they were a perfect reflection of Britain’s general merchant's perspective on European integration.


Photo by Mike Licht

Friday, 17 March 2017

Reactionary working class?

Large parts of the western working class now seem to gather around right-wing populists, demagogues and racists. They vote for reactionary and fascistoid political parties. They helped to vote the UK out of the EU, to make Trump president of the world's superpower number one, and they vote so massively for the far right political parties so that they have government power in sight throughout several of Europe's most populous countries. In this guest post, Asbjørn Wahl assesses these developments from a labour perspective and reflects on a progress way forward.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Betraying Europe and the danger of collapsing integration.

Photo by Wolf Gang
Brexit demonstrated clearly what many had perceived to be impossible: European integration is reversible. The potential breakup of the European Union (EU) has been welcomed by people on the political right as well as some on the left. While the former hail the return of national sovereignty, the latter often perceive Brexit as an important blow to neo-liberal, austerity Europe. In this blog post, I will critically assess these claims and highlight the dangers implicit in current developments. What many opponents overlook is the historical achievement of the EU to overcome long-standing, historical tensions and rivalries between different countries, which had resulted in two brutal world wars in the first half of the 20th century. Why is it, that European integration, which had been so popular amongst the involved peoples in the 1950s and 1960s, has lost so much attraction now in the 21st century?


Thursday, 9 February 2017

Training for Exploitation? Politicising Employability & Reclaiming Education.

Employability is a powerful and increasingly dominant word within the universities. Nottingham University is proud to be “ranked in the world top 100 Universities for employability”. This is because students are now the main funder of universities. And employability provides the answer to why the £9.250 tuition fees per year are worth it – even if one needs to in-debt oneself for this investment. Consequently, employability services are not only spreading like wildfire but also academic staff is increasingly pressurised to demonstrate in what ways their course facilitates students' employability. For these employability educators the Precarious Workers Brigade just published a book called “Training for Exploitation? Politicising Employability and Reclaiming Education” (a free pdf is available online). The book offers a “critical resource pack to assist teachers and students in deconstructing dominant narratives around work, employability and careers, and explores alternative ways of engaging with work and the economy”. In this guest post Vera Weghmann introduces the book by explaining what employability is and why it needs to be politicised.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Class Sentiment of the Precariat: Reflections on social movements in Portugal 2011-2013.

In 2011, analysing new and ever more widely spread practices of informal work Guy Standing made his important intervention announcing the emergence of the precariat as a new class-in-the-making (see The Precariat – a new class agent for transformation?). In this guest post, Florian Butollo critically engages with Standing’s claim through an examination of social movements in Portugal between 2011 and 2013. He demonstrates that provided we have a broader and more political understanding of class, these movements can still be understood in class terms, providing us with a better way of thinking about the possibilities of collective resistance against exploitation.  

Sunday, 18 December 2016

How the West came to Rule? Challenging Eurocentrism.

The notion of uneven and combined development (U&CD), introduced by Leon Trotsky in his assessment of the Russian political economy and the possibilities of transformation toward communism in the early 20th century, has gained increasing attention within International Relations. In this blog post, I want to engage critically with the recent book How The West Came To Rule (Pluto Press, 2015) by Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancioğlu, which draws extensively on U&CD in its analysis of the emergence and spread of capitalism.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Future of UK-China Relations post-Brexit - China as a Hope Project

With Brexit on the horizon, the UK is currently in search for alternative trade agreements, not only with European countries, but also other economies around the world. The emerging market of China plays a key role in this strategy. In this blog post, I will assess the potential and implications of future UK – China relations.


Photo by Sergeant Paul Shaw LBIPP/MOD