Marxism and trade unionism

What is the “social strike”?

Published on: Wed, 08/03/2017 - 11:02

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.

Some on the radical left confer a particular significance on these sort of strikes and have coupled them with the notion of “the social strike”. This idea, for instance by the group Plan C, has been put forward as a way to overcome the current weakness of organised labour as a

Further debate on the "social strike" and workplace organisation

Published on: Mon, 12/09/2016 - 02:15

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. Their response, and mine, substantially move away from discussion of the “social strike” issue, into a more general discussion of perspectives and strategies. Although the focus is now rather wider, I think the debate is worth

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

Published on: Fri, 26/08/2016 - 21:57

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.

Recent strikes by Deliveroo and UberEats drivers are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that workers in the so-called "gig economy" can't organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

Some on the

Democracy, direct action, and socialism

Published on: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 10:53

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.

This pamphlet deals with the clash of ideas

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

Published on: Wed, 20/01/2016 - 11:59

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.

She first came to a wide left audience with The Retreat from Class: A New “True” Socialism (1986). This was a collection of her

The old new

Published on: Tue, 09/06/2015 - 16:42

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.

If John believe socialists must undertake a “radical rethink of just about everything”, it’s no good just saying so. He has a responsibility to at least make some broad

Marxism at Work: What are Trade Unions?

Published on: Tue, 18/11/2014 - 21:25

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.

The purpose of trades unions is to fight for the betterment of workers within the system and many unions fall into an acceptance of the capitalist

1864: the First International

Published on: Tue, 23/09/2014 - 17:54

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”.

In 1848, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ended their Communist Manifesto with the famous and ringing declaration: “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!” But in many ways, their theoretical elaboration of an international proletarian

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