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Guestworkers: A Taxonomy
A typology of Gastarbeiter programmes and their function in capitalist labour regimes, from Wilhelmine Prussia to the Gulf monarchies. Side effects of attempts to import a disposable reserve army of labour, and the tensions they provoke between capital accumulation and state legitimacy.
A meditation on the peculiar relations of power between customers and retail staff, informed by direct experience. Required to enforce the logic of a system over which they have no control, shopworkers take refuge in forms of tacit resistance, distancing themselves from their ambiguous role in the circuits of modern capitalism.
Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History
Do feminism and neoliberalism share a secret affinity? Nancy Fraser on the co-option of gender politics by the ‘new spirit’ of post-Fordist capitalism, and subordination of its radical critique to a World Bank agenda. Might a neo-Keynesian shift offer prospects for socialist-feminist renewal?
Labour in the Levant
Against celebrations of the messianic potential of migrant labour, John Chalcraft presents the case of Syrian workers in Lebanon, where porous borders and hybrid identities serve to reproduce exploitative conditions. What motivations and aspirations underpin migration—and what routes might lead out of commodification’s web?
To be taken abruptly from school at 15 and thrust into a mammoth factory is a second weaning. Leaving a secondary school system which offers little more than a taste of the fruits of intellectual civilization before being thrust into the relative barbarity of the industrial system, ensures that personal . . . read more
After 21 years as a guard and active trade unionist on the London underground, I can say that I enjoy being a railwayman. I started before the war when London Transport Board used to take on temporary staff for the annual leave season, and I became a temporary porter. I . . . read more
‘To be effective, trade unionism must be militant, immediate and democratic,’ writes a shop-stewards’ convenor in this account of his job in a highly skilled Midlands aeroengine plant. A study in the workings of militant shop floor organization, his article clearly articulates both the need and the struggle for workers’ . . . read more
The Print Jungle
‘In the jungle one has to defend oneself as best one can.’ This is the experience of a militant in the printing industry where, after a succession of take-overs, the monopoly confronts the worker with its ‘rational’ demands for modernizution and closures. From the shop floor the irrationality is obvious: . . . read more
At the Office - 2
After leaving school jag worked for six months in a solicitor’s office and then became a clerk in a north country psychiatric hospital for three years. He is single, aged 23, and was a Labour candidate in this year’s General Election. Like pc he reflects on the dreadful boredom of . . . read more
The author of this description of the nothingness of a nightwatchman’s existence—‘a negative-image of day-time work’—is now a teacher and journalist. Thirty-three years old t.c.n. recently graduated to these professions after many years of travelling, studying and passing from one job to another.read more
Unemployed Europe and the Struggle for Alternatives
On 19 January, Tony Blair gave an interview to the European newspaper. He made plain his belief that ‘not just socialism but social democracy as practised in most of Europe is past its sell-by date’. The reason for this judgement is said to be that social democracy has been unable . . . read more
Paul T-- Investigates
James Markham did not have many hidden powers. Only quietly manifest ones. European Director of the major construction company, Contrac, he made £60 million sound like the price of an evening newspaper. ‘If I decide that something needs doing, it gets done,’ he said, matter-of-factly. Across the expanse of an . . . read more
Domestic Labour: Reply to Critics
The real merit of the critique made by Margaret Coulson, Branka Magaš and Hilary Wainwright of my analysis of domestic labourfootnote1 is that it focusses discussion about the strategic relation of women’s liberation to socialist revolution upon women’s double labour condition under capitalism. The fact that working-class women, in greater . . . read more
The Housewife and Her Labour Under Capitalism
The re-emergence of a women’s movement in the late sixties brought with it a flood of radical literature on the oppression of women. The bulk of this writing was descriptive in character. While the portrayal of women’s life-circumstances was often vivid and accurate, the analysis was generally very thin. The . . . read more
Introduction to 'Work' Series
‘The worker feels himself at home only outside his work and feels absent from himself in his work. He feels at home when he is not working, and not at home when he is working. His work is not freely consented to, but is a constrained, forced labour. Work is . . . read more
Immigration under Capitalism
The authors of Immigrant Workers begin by observing that ‘The race relations approach has dominated research on immigration in Britain’. footnote1 This approach has been mainly liberal in outlook, and frequently followed American models; ‘few British social scientists have paid any attention to . . . immigrants in the far . . . read more
Beyond the Domestic Labour Debate
It is nearly a decade since the first texts in the recent domestic labour debate appeared, and since then over fifty articles have been published on the subject of housework in the British and American socialist press alone.footnote1 This interest in domestic labour has arisen from a wide range of . . . read more
Feminism at Work
The most important political phenomenon of the last two decades and one that will continue to mark the politics of the next has been the development of a new feminist consciousness and a movement for women’s liberation.footnote1 In Canada and Quebec, as elsewhere in the advanced capitalist world, fifteen years . . . read more
The Function of Labour Immigration in Western European Capitalism
The domination of the working masses by a small capitalist ruling class has never been based on violence alone. Capitalist rule is based on a range of mechanisms, some objective products of the economic process, others subjective phenomena arising through manipulation of attitudes. Two such mechanisms, which received considerable attention . . . read more
The New Agenda
The socialist movements, and later the socialist parties, developed out of the struggle against the exploitation and oppression of the wage-earning masses, but also against the social goals and conceptions of the bourgeois leading strata. The socialist project of a new society at first contained two elements. On the one . . . read more
There is no Western European country where immigrant labour is a negligible force, or even a marginal quantity fluctuating with the economic conjuncture. Nowhere do immigrant workers provide simply a ‘regulator’ of employment, or merely an instrument for the bourgeoisie to increase the ‘industrial reserve army’. They comprise 6 per . . . read more
Note on 'Work' Series
With the present essay we are ending the series on Work which nlrinaugurated nearly four years ago. Since then we have published some 50 personal work accounts—half in the Review and the remainder in Work (Pelican Original, January 1968) and its successor Work Volume 2 which has just appeared from . . . read more
'Labour and Monopoly Capital'
In a recent issue of nlr, Bob Rowthorn called Harry Braverman’s Labour and Monopoly Capitalfootnote1 ‘one of the two most important works of Marxist political economy to have appeared in English in the last decade’.footnote2 The book’s apparently untheoretical approach is deceptive. In a simple style, but with great attention . . . read more
A Labour Process to Nowhere?
What has come to be known over the last ten years or so as ‘the labour process debate’ has been, literally, very much an academic exercise. And now its academic participants are pronouncing its end: ‘It is not perhaps an exaggeration to claim that the labour process bandwagon has run . . . read more
if the difficulty of a problem is to be measured by the scarcity of ideas for its solution, then the problem of securing workers’ control of industry is the most intractable facing the British working class movement. In this century the struggle for workers’ control has passed through one heroic . . . read more
The 'Prison Factory'
Try putting 13 little pins in 13 little holes 60 times an hour, eight hours a day. Spot-weld 67 steel plates an hour, then find yourself one day facing a new assembly-line needing 110 an hour. Fit 100 coils to 100 cars every hour; tighten seven bolts three times a . . . read more