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Labour Markets, Identities, Controversies

Reviews and Essays, 1982-2016

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Tom Brass

Debates about labour markets and the identity of those who, in an economic sense, circulate within them, together with the controversies such issues generate, have in the past been confined by development studies to the Third World. Now these same concerns have shifted, as the study of development has turned its attention to how these same phenomena affect metropolitan capitalist nations. For this reason, the book does not restrict the analysis of issues such as the free/unfree labour distinction and non-class identity to Third World contexts. The reviews, review essays and essays collected here also examine similar issues now evident in metropolitan capitalism, together with their political and ideological effects and implications.

The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68)

‘Neither Lenin nor Trotsky nor Stalin!’ - ‘All Workers Must Think for Themselves!’

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Philippe Bourrinet

The Dutch-German Communist Left, represented by the German KAPD-AAUD, the Dutch KAPN and the Bulgarian Communist Workers Party, separated from the Comintern (1921) on questions like electoralism, trade-unionism, united fronts, the one-party state and anti-proletarian violence. It attracted the ire of Lenin, who wrote his Left Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder against the Linkskommunismus, while Herman Gorter wrote a famous response in his pamphlet Reply to Lenin. The present volume provides the most substantial history to date of this tendency in the twentieth-century Communist movement. It covers how the Communist left, with the KAPD-AAU, denounced 'party communism' and 'state capitalism' in Russia; how the German left survived after 1933 in the shape of the Dutch GIK and Paul Mattick’s councils movement in the USA; and also how the Dutch Communistenbond Spartacus continued to fight after 1942 for the world power of the workers councils, as theorised by Pannekoek in his book Workers’ Councils (1946).

Antonio Gramsci

Towards an Intellectual Biography

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Alistair Davidson

Many large Italian cities have a main thoroughfare ‘via Gramsci’, showing that the Communist leader has become part of Italy’s ‘national patrimony’, while internationally, the interest in Gramsci’s writings is second to none.
As a consequence of this fame, Gramsci’s heritage is claimed by rival groups: on the one hand by those who hope to establish his writings as ‘sacred texts’ for their own policies and on the other by those who stress any differences with Lenin in order to prove Gramsci a ‘rebel’.
A great merit of this biography is that it lifts the study of Gramsci away from the sterile debate about whether he was or was not a Leninist; another achievement of the author has been to integrate the circumstances of Gramsci’s life – the childhood in Sardinia, the politics of the left in the 1920s, the years of exile and prison – with his developing political and philosophical ideas.

God, Guns, Gold and Glory

American Character and its Discontents

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Lauren Langman and George Lundskow

America, beginning as a small group of devout Puritan settlers, ultimately became the richest, most powerful Empire in the history of the world, but having reached that point, is now in a process of implosion and decay. This book, inspired by Frankfurt School Critical Theory, especially Erich Fromm, offers a unique historical, cultural and characterological analysis of American national character and its underlying psychodynamics. Specifically, this analysis looks at the persistence of Puritan religion, as well as the extolling of male toughness and America's unbridled pursuit of wealth. Finally, its self image of divinely blessed exceptionalism has fostered vast costs in lives and wealth. But these qualities of its national character are now fostering both a decline of its power and a transformation of its underlying social character. This suggests that the result will be a changing social character that enables a more democratic, tolerant and inclusive society, one that will enable socialism, genuine, participatory democracy and a humanist framework of meaning. This book is relevant to understanding America’s past, present and future.

The Mismeasure of Wealth

Essays on Marx and Social Form

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Patrick Murray

The Mismeasure of Wealth: Essays on Marx and Social Form gathers Patrick Murray’s essays reinterpreting Marx and Marxian theory published since his Marx’s Theory of Scientific Knowledge (1988), along with a previously unpublished essay and an introduction. Murray’s essays concentrate on Marx the historical materialist, the investigator of historically specific social forms of wealth and labour. There is no production in general; the production of wealth always involves specific social forms and purposes that matter in many ways. Marx’s attention to the dynamics and far-reaching consequences of historically specific social forms – in particular those that are constitutive of the capitalist mode of production – sets him off from classical political economy and traditional Marxism. In probing Marx’s dialectical accounts of the commodity, value, money, surplus value, wage labour and capital, The Mismeasure of Wealth establishes Marx’s singular relevance for critical social theory today.


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Martyn Ives

In Reform, Revolution and Direct Action amongst British Miners, Martyn Ives offers a new perspective on one of the most volatile periods in labour history. His research into the astonishing coalfield militancy of 1919 reveals it was a watershed year on a par with 1926. Indeed the General Strike was in many ways merely its dim echo.

Whilst historians have skated over the labour unrest of 1919, Martyn Ives uncovers a remarkable incidence of unofficial mass strikes in the coalfields, waged against mine-owners, government and trade union leaders alike. Led by revolutionaries, and infused with political radicalism, this mass movement offered a glimpse of an alternative road to socialism, based upon the organised industrial power of the working class.

The Rhythm of Thought in Gramsci

A Diachronic Interpretation of Prison Notebooks

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Giuseppe Cospito

Many scholars have recently shown great interest in a diachronic re-examination of Antonio Gramsci’s main theoretical-political categories in the Prison Notebooks. This method would uncover the origins and development of Gramsci’s concepts using the same method that Gramsci himself believed would allow us to grasp ‘the rhythm of thought’ in Marx. The present work embraces this perspective and puts it to work in two ways. Its first part analyzes the relation between structure and superstructure and the concepts of hegemony and the regulated society. Its second part extends the diachronic analysis to the conceptual pairings which represent alternatives to structure-superstructure, encompassing questions of political and cultural organisation as well as the relation between Gramsci and the major proponents of historical materialism (Marx, Engels, Lenin).

English translation of Il ritmo del pensiero: per una lettura diacronica dei «Quaderni del carcere» di Gramsci published by Bibliopolis, Naples (2011).

Althusser and Theology

Religion, Politics and Philosophy

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Edited by Agon Hamza

Religion has always been an object of philosophical analysis, as well as a platform for political practice. One cannot imagine a form of philosophical thinking without its relation to a religion, whether it negates or affirms the latter. In different philosophical orientations, religion also serves as a condition for philosophy.

Althusser and Theology intends not so much to fill a gap in Althusser scholarship as to make an important contribution to the contemporary radical left movement. In this regard, Althusser and Theology is of significant importance in the current debates on the Left concerning its relation to theology. It will also contribute to the ongoing debate on Althusser, as well as opening up a new perspective on his philosophical project.

Contributors are: Roland Boer, Stanislas Breton, Isa Blumi, Geoff Pfeifer, Agon Hamza, Warren Montag, Vittorio Morfino, Knox Peden, Panagiotis Sotiris, Ted Stolze, Jana Tsoneva, and Gabriel Tupinambá.

Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present

Space, Mobility, Aesthetics

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Edited by Esther Peeren, Hanneke Stuit and Astrid Van Weyenberg

This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present. Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.

The Horizon of Modernity

Subjectivity and Social Structure in New Confucian Philosophy

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Ady Van den Stock

The Horizon of Modernity provides an extensive account of New Confucian philosophy that cuts through the boundaries between history and thought. This study explores Mou Zongsan's and Tang Junyi's critical confrontation with Marxism and Communism in relation to their engagement with Western thinkers such as Kant and Hegel. The author analyzes central conceptual aporias in the works of Mou, Tang, as well as Xiong Shili in the context of the revival of Confucianism in contemporary China and the emergence of the discipline of philosophy in twentieth-century Chinese intellectual history. This book casts new light on the nexus between the categories of subjectivity and social structure and the relation between philosophy, modern temporality, and the structural conditions of the modern world.