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Transforming Classes

Transforming Classes: Socialist Register 2020

LEO PANITCH
GREG ALBO
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 335
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1287jmh
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  • Book Info
    Transforming Classes
    Book Description:

    For more than half a century, theSocialist Registerhas brought together some of the sharpest thinkers from around the globe to address the pressing issues of our time. Founded by Ralph Miliband and John Saville in London in 1964, SR continues their commitment to independent and thought-provoking analysis, free of dogma or sectarian positions.Transforming Classesis a compendium of socialist thought today and a clarifying account of class struggle in the early twenty-first-century, from China to the United States.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-483-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Leo Panitch and Greg Albo
  4. PRECARIOUS MIGRANTS: GENDER, RACE AND THE SOCIAL REPRODUCTION OF A GLOBAL WORKING CLASS
    (pp. 1-23)
    SUSAN FERGUSON and DAVID MCNALLY

    Each of the quotes above speaks to a distinct aspect of contemporary capitalism in North America: the first refers to America’s migrant labour system; the second references Mexico’smaquiladorafactory zone and the epidemic of murders of women working there. In truth, these apparently distinct systems form a unity. North America’s ‘guestworker’ programmes and Mexico’s deregulated labour regimes are interlocking spaces in the social geography and political economy of neoliberal capitalism. These zones of precarity comprise reconfigured spaces of capital, work, gender, race and social reproduction in late capitalism. Linked in obvious ways by flows of capital they are equally...

  5. THE LANGUAGE OF CLASS IN CHINA
    (pp. 24-53)
    LIN CHUN

    The post-Mao regime’s mantra ofJiegui(‘getting on the global track’), or willing participation in the latest round of capitalist globalization, has redirected China’s development path. The country has now become the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment, largest trade-dependent exporter, largest energy consumer and largest producer of carbon emissions, mostly at the low end of the global productive chain. As its economy – including its finance and other strategic sectors – becomes ever more open, a deeply problematic national growth pattern based on officially endorsed ‘cheap labour’ becomes entrenched in the international division of labour, vastly favouring global...

  6. INDIA’S LANDMARK ELECTION
    (pp. 54-72)
    ACHIN VANAIK

    There are numerous reasons why the 2014 general elections to India’s lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, constituted a post-independence landmark event. But the most important is that it signifies for the first time ever the replacement of the Indian National Congress by the Hindutva-motivated Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as thecentral point of referenceof the Indian polity. Add to this a Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who as Chief Minister of Gujarat state in February-March 2002 oversaw (and for many was directly implicated in) the eruption and prolongation of one of the worst anti-Muslim pogroms since independence. If...

  7. BRINGING CLASS BACK IN: INFORMALITY IN BANGALORE
    (pp. 73-92)
    SUPRIYA ROYCHOWDHURY

    While the exclusivist nature of capitalist growth, both in developed and developing countries, continues to be a shared concern, the political subjectivity of the poor in the current phase of capitalist development is a relatively unexplored domain. How does one relate economic hardship and deprivation to political action? This essay pursues this question in the context of urban poverty in developing countries. Informal work in which most urban poor seek their livelihood provides the lens through which the question of the poor’s political agency is seen.

    This question is important to ask in the present juncture for a number of...

  8. NUMSA, THE WORKING CLASS AND SOCIALIST POLITICS IN SOUTH AFRICA
    (pp. 93-113)
    SAM ASHMAN and NICOLAS PONS-VIGNON

    The South African election on the 7 May 2014 marked 20 years since the end of apartheid and the achievement of democracy. The result was hardly surprising, with the African National Congress (ANC) winning 62 per cent of the vote. But the idea of unchanging ANC hegemony is far from accurate. Only 35 per cent of those eligible to vote backed the ANC, a decline from 54 per cent in the first post-apartheid election in 1994. In Gauteng, the biggest centre of industry and most populous province which contains the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, the ANC’s share of the...

  9. FROM GEZI RESISTANCE TO SOMA MASSACRE: CAPITAL ACCUMULATION AND CLASS STRUGGLE IN TURKEY
    (pp. 114-135)
    FUAT ERCAN and ŞEBNEM OĞUZ

    On 31 May 2013, a local demonstration against the destruction of Gezi Park in Taksim, İstanbul as part of an urban renewal project turned into a spontaneous countrywide uprising. In the course of a few weeks, 2.5 million people filled the streets of 79 Turkish cities, with the slogans ‘everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance’, and demanding the government resign. The Gezi resistance can be considered as part of the global wave of uprisings that started in 2009, centred in countries around the Mediterranean, as reactions against various facets of the deepening of capitalist social relations and the corresponding rise...

  10. THE EGYPTIAN WORKERS’ MOVEMENT BEFORE AND AFTER THE 2011 POPULAR UPRISING
    (pp. 136-156)
    JOEL BEININ and MARIE DUBOC

    Continuing a cycle of contention over economic demands that began in the late 1990s, Egyptian workers sharply escalated the pace of their strikes and collective actions in early 2014. The movement has been in large measure a response, albeit for the most part not articulated in these terms, to the neoliberal transformation of the Egyptian economy.

    In January and February 2014, about 100,000 workers participated in strikes and other collective actions. The pace of protest escalated further in March when thousands of public sector doctors, dentists and pharmacists declared a full strike, as did thousands of Alexandria Public Transport workers....

  11. TRANSNATIONAL SOLIDARITY? THE EUROPEAN WORKING CLASS IN THE EUROZONE CRISIS
    (pp. 157-177)
    ANDREAS BIELER and ROLAND ERNE

    European labour movements are under severe pressure as a result of the global financial and eurozone crises, which have been used by capital to attack unions and workers’ rights. In this essay, we will assess the response of European labour movements to this attack and discuss to what extent relations of transnational solidarity have been established in this process. Germany has been at the core of discussions about the eurozone crisis. While peripheral European Union (EU) member states have run into severe problems, the German economy appears as the clear winner, the example to follow due to its booming exports....

  12. THE NEW MORPHOLOGY OF THE WORKING CLASS IN CONTEMPORARY BRAZIL
    (pp. 178-198)
    RICARDO ANTUNES

    Contemporary capitalism is bringing profound changes to the composition of the working class on a global scale. While the industrial proletariat is declining in many parts of the world due to the new international division of labour, particularly in the advanced capitalist countries, new cohorts of male and female workers in the service industries sector are expanding significantly, alongside employment in agribusiness and manufacturing, especially in many countries in the Global South.¹ The enormous expansion of work incall centresand telemarketing in information and communication technology (ICT) companies, ever more involved in the valuation process of capital, has also...

  13. CLASS TRANSFORMATIONS IN CHILE’S CAPITALIST REVOLUTION
    (pp. 199-215)
    TIMOTHY DAVID CLARK

    As in much of Latin America, the history of capitalism in Chile is one of profound unevenness and halting advance. One of the chief reasons for which capitalist social relations expanded in such a faltering manner was the absence of clas0s forces and institutional configurations conducive to the acceleration and deepening of capitalist development.¹ In response to the revolutionary capitalist pressures emanating from the foreign owned nitrate fields in the north and the world market of the late nineteenth century, the dominant segment of Chilean landlords and industrialists sought to contain and control pressures for capitalist transformation by retreating into...

  14. THE OLYMPIC RULING CLASS
    (pp. 216-234)
    GEORGE WRIGHT

    The International Olympics Committee’s main functions consist of overseeing National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and Olympic Games Organizing Committees (OGOCs), cooperating with affiliated international sports federations (IFs), selecting the host city for the Olympic Games and enforcing the operational guidelines for organizing the Games.¹ The formation and institutionalization of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the modern Olympic Games in the 1890s was carried out by European aristocratic and capitalist elites at a time when industrialization, monopoly capitalism and the republican-democratic project were coalescing. They were motivated by a commitment to educational reform involving physical education and sport so as to...

  15. THE MIDDLE CLASS IN HOLLYWOOD: ANXIETIES OF THE AMERICAN DREAM
    (pp. 235-249)
    JOHN MCCULLOUGH

    In American liberal political discourse, the middle classes are routinely portrayed as foundational to democratic order and economic growth. It is argued that they extol virtues such as individual drive, humility and social conformity that are crucial for building strong communities. Thus, ‘crises’ in the middle classes engender a variety of strong responses and are taken note of as though they impact on everyone. This is reinforced by the many middle-class crises represented in mass media, including popular films and television. In what follows, I provide an admittedly anecdotal overview of the expansive history of Hollywood’s representations of middle-class characters,...

  16. WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE PROFESSIONAL MANAGERIAL CLASS?
    (pp. 250-269)
    RANDY MARTIN

    The Professional Managerial Class (PMC) was once positioned to hold the promise of a knowledge-based capitalist society to resolve the deeper antinomies of social division and conflict. Accordingly, credentialized knowledge was the basis of a new category of commodities that would deliver expertise over a specialized domain. The resulting professionalization was to be meritocratically achieved and autonomously governed so as to make capital’s claims for growth, progress and development mappable onto the appropriately privileged individual career. As such, the PMC was a class that was not one, comporting with a conception of class that disavowed its significance. From this perspective,...

  17. CLASS THEORY AND CLASS POLITICS TODAY
    (pp. 270-292)
    HUGO RADICE

    In the spring of 2013, the BBC unveiled a major survey of the class structure of modern Britain, prepared by a team of sociologists led by Professor Mike Savage of the London School of Economics. The survey sought to broaden the traditional occupational analysis of class by more fully taking into account ‘the role of cultural and social processes in generating class divisions’, and the authors argued that ‘this new seven class model recognises both social polarisation in British society and class fragmentation in its middle layers’.¹

    These two observations – of polarization and fragmentation – will certainly strike a...

  18. Labour and the left in the USA:: a symposium

    • THE POLITICS OF US LABOUR: PARALYSIS AND POSSIBILITIES
      (pp. 295-317)
      KIM MOODY and CHARLES POST

      After nearly thirty years of political and economic retreat, the US labour movement is facing what is possibly its most serious crisis since the early 1930s. Historically, the US labour officialdom has practiced what we have called ‘bureaucratic business unionism’.¹ Conceiving themselves as business people engaged in the sale of their members’ labour-power, the leadership of the US unions have relied upon the National Labour Relations Board, and the resulting alliance with the pro-capitalist Democratic Party, to insure the regulation of labour-management relations since the late 1930s. The framework of industry-based pattern bargaining over wages, hours and working conditions (and...

    • FORGING NEW CLASS SOLIDARITIES: ORGANIZING HOSPITAL WORKERS
      (pp. 318-335)
      JANE MCALEVEY

      In 1935, the US Congress, under pressure from an angry and increasingly activist labour force passed the Wagner Act, the legal framework that made it possible for workers who fought hard and smart to form strong unions. Twelve years and one world war later, Congress, under pressure from big business, passed the Taft-Hartley Act, which essentially gutted the Wagner Act. US workers have been slipping backward ever since. Over the past several decades, that slide became an avalanche, and today workers and the unemployed are all but buried. Amid the acrimonious debates about unions’ future direction, too little attention is...

    • NEW WORKING-CLASS ORGANIZATION AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT LEFT
      (pp. 336-350)
      STEVE WILLIAMS and RISHI AWATRAMANI

      New organizations are seeking to build power and organization from sectors of the working class previously relegated to the side stage of history. In these organizations, working-class African American, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous communities are at the centre alongside working-class women, young people, queer and transgender people as well as organized white working-class communities. The constituencies of these organizations include service workers, bicycle messengers and fast food workers; informal workers including street vendors, day labourers and sex workers; unemployed workers and welfare recipients; people who have immigrated to the United States and people who are incarcerated; people fighting...

    • THE CRISIS OF LABOUR AND THE LEFT IN THE UNITED STATES
      (pp. 351-375)
      MARK DUDZIC and ADOLPH REED JR

      The 2008 economic crisis and its aftermath were viewed by many as the ‘Lazarus moment’ for the US left. After all, here was a crisis brought about by the classic contradictions of capitalism playing out on a political landscape shaped by vast and growing disparities of wealth and power. In familiar left foundational mythologies, this was a moment that would give rise to revolution or, at the very least, a ‘new New Deal’. And there was no shortage of commentary proclaiming no less than neoliberalism’s death agonies.¹ Yet the left has been spectacularly unsuccessful in crafting a coherent response to...

  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 376-377)