Marxism and trade unionism

What is the “social strike”?

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Recent strikes by “gig economy” workers (e.g. Deliveroo) are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that so-called precarious workers can’t organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

A fetishisation of novelty can sometimes blind us to the fact that what’s required is not “new kinds of strike action”, or new forms of organisation, but rather a rediscovery and relearning of old lessons, ideas, and strategies, now forgotten or lost.

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Further debate on the "social strike" and workplace organisation

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Cautiously Pessimistic's[1] thoughtful reply to my critique of Plan C's "social strike perspective" is very welcome. Many of its themes were telegraphed in an exchanged of comments between me and Cautiously on the AWL website, under my original article (click the link above and scroll to the bottom). I'll try to focus here on issues I haven't already responded to.

A reply to anarchist blogger "Cautiously Pessimistic".

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On the "social strike": a response to Plan C

Author: 

Daniel Randall

For a response to this article by the anarchist blogger "Cautiously Pessimistic", click here.

For a further response from Daniel Randall, click here.

Plan C comrades have told us they also plan a collective response, which we will link to once it is published.

Does the concept of the "social strike", promoted by the left-wing group Plan C, have the capacity to overcome the current weakness of organised labour?

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Democracy, direct action, and socialism


There are decisive turning points in history that shape the future for many years ahead. The British labour movement was brought to such a turning point by the victory of the Thatcherite Tories in the 1979 general election and the events that came after it. The defeat of the labour movement then shaped the social, political, and ethical world we live in now. Was that defeat unavoidable? The revolutionary left argued then that it wasn’t: that if we mobilised our strength we could defeat Thatcher, as we had defeated her Tory predecessors in 1972-4.
Is direct action undemocratic? What methods should the labour movement use to defeat the bosses? Should we stick within the law? This new pamphlet discusses these issues and more.

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Ellen Meiskins Wood (1942-2016): a Marxist who put class centre

Author: 

Andrew Coates

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, was a noted intellectual figure on the international left who influenced several generations of thinkers and activists.

Born in New York as Ellen Meiksins one year after her parents, Latvian Jews active in the Bund, arrived as political refugees, Wood studied in California before establishing herself as an academic in Canada, based at York University in Toronto.

Her writings were thought-provoking and luminous.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who has died aged 73, influenced several generations of left academics and activists. She was a Marxist who combined creative and original thinking with a powerful defence of the centrality of class and class struggle to socialist politics.

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The old new

Are Amazon’s warehouses “post-industrial”? Does not, in fact, even a large university or hospital have rather a lot in common with an old-fashioned industrial complex? Agency working, casualisation, and precarity have disrupted and to some extent atomised the relationship of workers to their work, and to each other. But while those things are now more common, they are not entirely new.

Unlike many who emphasise the novelty of any given period, and insist that some innovative new approach must be adopted, John Cunningham (“It is not ‘business as usual for the left”, Solidarity 366, 3 June 2015) at least has the honesty to admit that he doesn’t know what that new approach is. “I take no pleasure from the comments I make here”, John says, “as I have no alternative to offer.” Honest, but nevertheless frustrating.

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Marxism at Work: What are Trade Unions?

In the day to day functioning of capitalist society, workers are exploited. On an individual basis workers are weak and cannot fight back against the bosses so we have formed trades unions – organisations where workers combine together to fight for better conditions.  

Workers have common interests – better pay, better working conditions – around which we can unite in trades unions.  The only power we have is in our numbers, we are strong together.

In the day to day functioning of capitalist society, workers are exploited. On an individual basis workers are weak and cannot fight back against the bosses so we have formed trades unions – organisations where workers combine together to fight for better conditions.  

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1864: the First International

Author: 

Michael Johnson

A hundred and fifty years ago, on 28 September 1864, the working-class movement took a huge step forward with the founding of the International Working Men’s Association.

A meeting at the St Martin’s Hall in London brought together radical and socialist delegates from around Europe, to set up the organisation which would become known as “The First International”.

A hundred and fifty years ago, on 28 September 1864, the working-class movement took a huge step forward with the founding of the International Working Men’s Association.

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