Marxist Sociology Blog: Theory, research, politics2023-12-08T10:30:41-05:00

System change, not return to the same: A comment on Tooze’s ‘Hegemony Notes’

Adam Tooze recently dissected Gramsci’s famous line: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Tooze’s central criticism is that the application of this idea to our times betrays a repetitive logic of regnum-interregnum-regnum and that, as a result, scholars operating in a Gramscian tradition—most notably, Giovanni Arrighi with his formulation of “cycles of world hegemony”—produce schemas that are “dangerously” simplistic and transhistorical. […]

By |Jul 21, 2024|Categories: Blog article, Commentary, Research|Tags: , , , |Comments Off on System change, not return to the same: A comment on Tooze’s ‘Hegemony Notes’

The Home and the Reproduction of Society: On Work, Rent and the Reach of Capital

The early twentieth century saw a wave of anti-colonial struggles that took the form of the labour strike. In the 1930s, Palestinian workers went on a general strike that turned into a three-year revolution to resist the settler colonial project orchestrated by the British Mandate. In Egypt, workers also went on general strikes demanding the end of British colonial occupation, and in the 1930s workers demanded lower rents in working-class neighbourhoods. After a general strike in 1946, Indian dock workers went on strike against British colonialism. And the list goes on. The strike has been historically extended to attend to anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles, housing injustices, and other social issues. The history of the labour strike is a reminder that capitalism operates as a totality that—while defined by relations of exploitation—encompasses broader social processes than simply production.

Capitalist social relations structure circulation, consumption, rent, and debt, all elements that bring in colonialism, access to housing, financial markets, migration, and social reproduction as central tenants in the functioning of capitalism. Accounting for the vastness of capitalism’s reach entails thinking about the preconditions that make its accumulation possible, for example, through capitalism’s reliance on unpaid […]

By |Jul 15, 2024|Categories: Blog article, News & Announcements, Research|Comments Off on The Home and the Reproduction of Society: On Work, Rent and the Reach of Capital

Marxism, Social Movements and Collective Action

Since the world crisis of 2008, we have been living in a phase characterized by poor growth, political instability, and geopolitical tension.  In this context, large waves of class struggle, like that in 2010-2012 and 2018-2019 along with the rise and advance of far-rights and authoritarianism in the world pose once more the question of the formation of the working class. However, the new forms of social struggle and political domination call for an update as to how to tackle this issue. This task becomes more complex due to insufficient development of these categories in Marxism.

Strikes, occupation of factories, marches and demonstrations, riots, uprisings, revolutions… the gap between the category class struggle and this motley set of terms speaks of a lack of conceptual framework: the development of a theory of class struggle. Such a task thus coincides with the building of mediations -intermediate categories- that could enable the understanding of the struggles in their specific diversity and in their connection with the processes of class formation. Despite the central nature of this category for Marxism and its long-standing history, attempts to develop the theory ended up in fragmentary results of difficult systematization. Looking back into […]

By , |May 27, 2024|Categories: Blog article, New book, News & Announcements|Comments Off on Marxism, Social Movements and Collective Action

Are Public and Private Sector Workers of a Different Nature?

Public-sector unions are becoming the hegemonic labor actor in many contemporary democracies. Despite the recent comeback of some unions in the private sector in the US, when one looks at the 21st century in perspective, the trend in unequivocal: while private-sector unions are generally in retreat, public-sector labor is a consistent force in much of the democratic world. Structural trends that undermine non-state labor amid globalization, such as enhanced international economic competition, widespread flexibilization of employment conditions, and retrenchment in traditional manufacturing strongholds have had far less of an effect on public unions outside the industrial sector.

During the last fifteen years, public-sector unions and teachers (the largest state workers’ group in almost every country) have staged notorious strike waves in places as diverse as the US, South Africa, Israel, Nordic countries, China, and Argentina. The president of Peru elected in 2021 built his career in a teacher union. Teachers’ and public-sector unions became the organizational backbone of Tunisian revolution that sparked the Arab Spring in 2011.  Government unions have been the main force behind massive strikes in the UK and France in the first half of 2023, the largest in at least two decades. The current rise of public-sector unions […]

By , |May 16, 2024|Categories: Blog article, News & Announcements, Research|Comments Off on Are Public and Private Sector Workers of a Different Nature?

Legitimacy and Vanguards in Revolutionary Struggle

Since 2011, one of the most important revolutionary projects of the twenty-first century has been taking roots in the north of Syria. In this region most commonly known as Rojava, a group of Kurdish revolutionaries and their various allies have been trying to establish a new and alternative way of governing our collective lives. Rojava has broad political implications, both theoretically and practically, which is why it was one of the cases for my dissertation. Yet I was also fascinated – for reasons I will discuss below – by the rather swift success of revolutionaries in taking power. After all, the PYD – the political party behind the movement – and the YPG/J – its military arm – were able to fill in the void left by the central government in a manner of months, and I was convinced that this had critical implications for revolutionary struggles everywhere. This eventually led me to explore how the PYD and YPG/J managed to outrival everyone else so quickly in Rojava, resulting in the article Competing Revolutionaries: Legitimacy and Leadership in Revolutionary Situations.

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By |May 3, 2024|Categories: Blog article, News & Announcements, Research|Comments Off on Legitimacy and Vanguards in Revolutionary Struggle
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