review

An injury to all

‘An Injury to One is an Injury to All’. This slogan of the Industrial Workers of the World has come to represent the claim that trade union activities should extend beyond the interests of the unions’ members and to a broader ‘community of fate’, as John S. Alquist and Margaret Levi call it.  Indeed, rather than looking at organisations in general, their book focuses on trade unions, US and Australian transport trade unions in particular.

‘But it hardly needs saying…’

The seating arrangements in the French Estates-General assumed two sides, left or right, for or against, this or that. Seats have to go somewhere, but the division of politics into two ‘sides’ has certainly encouraged glaring and shouting. It encourages us to believe that this is a practice which requires firm distinctions, and to express disappointment when all available options on a ballot paper converge on focus group centrism. For most people, to recognise something distinctive called Politics, we need to see assertion, struggle, and antagonism.

New spirit of critique?

du Gay and Morgan’s edited collection, comprising of thirteen chapters, focuses on the seminal and similarly titled The new spirit of capitalism (TSC), co-authored by Boltanski and Chiapello, originally published in France in 1999, and later translated into English in 2005. Boltanski and Chiapello argued that from the mid-1970s onwards, capitalism began to reorganize and abandoned hierarchical Fordist structures that epitomised earlier periods of production, in favour of network-based forms of organizing within the workplace.

What is this thing?

Introduction

Non-ephemeral nomads

Protest camps is an inside look at various protest camps all over the world, from Resurrection City in Washington, DC to Greenham Common in the United Kingdom and to Horizon in Stirling, Scotland; from Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt to OccupyLSX in London. The book provides a detailed account on how protest camps work to achieve their goals. More specifically, it provides both inside and outside accounts of protest camps. The book thereby takes into account several theoretical approaches, such as a sociological, a political science, and a communications approach.

Corruption, abuse of power and lack of trust in Sweden: Does NPM corrupt?

Erik Wångmar’s book on corruption presents an astonishingly thorough and methodical historical analysis of five corruption cases set in the world of Swedish local politics, i.e. on a municipal level. While impressive in its laboriously scope, archival accuracy and extensive time frame, the book does not counterbalance this empirical focus with an equally rewarding theoretical analysis and development.

Can democracy survive austerity?

Armin Schafer and Wolfgang Streeck, two scholars at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany, have edited a remarkable volume that attempts to address a political-economic touchstone of modern democratic-capitalism: how to reconcile democratic political processes with the increasing governance of global economic life by economic institutions – corporate and transnational governmental – that are politically nonresponsive to the demands of ordinary citizens and which are dedicated to often unpopular economic policies of austerity (cf. Edsall, 2012).

Of mice and man

*Aim of the book

‘What can strike mean for the creative workers, and industrialists, whose punch clocks know no on and off, but only countless versions of on?’ (142). The essay Factories of knowledge, industries of creativity by Gerald Raunig deals with the Occupy movement and today’s forms of existence and production. According to Raunig, the Occupy movement is a temporary ‘reterritorialization’, as a form of resistance in a ‘deterritorialized society’ (13).

Alternative organizations in a global context: Tensions, challenges and potentialities

While cooperation exists since times immemorial, in its modern form it constitutes a 'product' of specific socio-economic and political conditions. Within this context, cooperatives and other alternative experiments have offered an opportunity to challenge existing capital-labour relations and inter-work relationships and rethink the way we relate everyday practices to political organization in general. This in turn implies an effort to reconceptualise the links between the economic and social field of action.

‘Why did it work this time?’ David Graeber on Occupy Wall Street

It has been two years since Occupy emerged on the global scene, inspired by an on-going wave of protest movements and upheavals. Like its predecessors, the movement was met with great skepticism – not least by many self-acclaimed leftist academics and journalists. How could a political movement, one objection went, be of any significance and endurance if it failed or refused to produce a clear, univocal agenda? How could it affect society or politics beyond the border of its own tent camp?

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