The Socialist Register 2015

Transforming Classes

By Leo Panitch and Greg Albo  

Paperback $36.00

Are you a student?

By devoting the 2015 Socialist Register to investigating class formation and class strategies on a global scale, as we also did the 2014 volume marking the Register’s fiftieth anniversary, we were going against fashion in quite deliberately emphasizing the fundamental importance of class analysis, class discourse and class politics for the twenty-first century. It has unfortunately been the case that even in left circles over the past several decades any talk of class, let alone class struggle, became decidedly unfashionable. Of course, this was in many ways a very old story. When the Register was founded in 1964, the irrelevance of class had already been proclaimed in mainstream intellectual circles, and this was increasingly echoed by the leaders of social democratic parties. Twenty years later, as the political compass of even the more radical left began to swing to a proliferation of ‘other’ identities, Ralph Miliband faced this head-on in the 1983 Register: ‘Socialist work means intervention in all the many different areas of life in which class struggle occurs: for class struggle must be taken to mean not only the permanent struggle between capital and labour, crucial though that remains, but the struggle against racial and sex discrimination, the struggle against arbitrary state and police power, the struggle against the ideological hegemony of the conservative forces, and the struggle for new and radically different defence and foreign policies’. Yet, amidst an endless stream of images across the new communication technologies, the left’s attention became more and more focused on those very spaces of ‘civil society’ and the ‘global economy’ in which class relations and class struggles seemed all too little visible.

The current volume, Transforming Classes, takes as its departure point class relations in this latter sense – the way working classes are being made and remade in the struggles against neoliberalism, austerity and authoritarian governments. Indeed, the purpose here is to take an account of the balance of class forces, the old and emerging forms of workplace and political organization, and the strategies being debated and adapted in different zones of the world. The volume begins with an essay that cuts new ground in theorizing the working-class experience from the prism of social reproduction, wherein race, gender, ethnicity and migration are all constitutive of class and necessarily define key features of the terrain of class struggle. As much in the advanced capitalist countries as in the most imperialized zones of the Global South – in fact, through their mutual imbrication in global labour markets – workers’ livelihoods, particularly those of migrants, are directly connected to household formation across borders. Taking up this concern to develop a truly global awareness of the transformations of social classes and class politics, the essays that follow – as authoritative in their appraisals as in their range – focus not only on such key developing capitalist countries as India, South Africa, Turkey, Egypt, Brazil and Chile, but also on the momentous political and discursive dimensions of the capitalist transformation of class relations in China under the auspices of the ruling Communist Party. And no less indispensable to the overall assessment of global capitalism are the essays here that attend to the advanced capitalist world. In both trying to understand the transformations which the so-called new middle classes have been going through as well as the state of trade unionism in Europe and North America, these essays focus on the need to develop an adequate class theory and class politics for today. In this respect, the four essays that compose the symposium on ‘Labour and the Left in the USA’, with which this volume concludes, provide not only sober readings but also shed light on promising campaigns for new working-class organizations in and beyond the workplace even in the imperial centre of world capitalism.

Request Exam Copy

Contents

  • Class and the Capitalist Corporation in the 21st Century (Greg Albo)
  • China’s Ruling Class (Lin Chun)
  • China’s Working Class (Lu Zhang)
  • The Working Classes in China and India (Jens Lerche)
  • India’s New Trade Union Initiative (Gautam Mody)
  • Class in the Slums (Supriya Roy Chowdhury)
  • The Egyptian Working Class (Joel Beinin)
  • NUMSA and the Class Struggle in South Africa (Nicolas Pons-Vignon & Sam Ashman)
  • The Transformation of Chile’s Class Structure (Tim Clark)
  • Class and Politics in Turkey (Sebnem Oguz)
  • The European Working Classes (Andreas Bieler)
  • Class Analysis and the British Working Class (Hugo Radice)
  • Labour’s New Morphology: From Informality to Infoproletariat (Ricardo Atunes)
  • What Happened to the New Middle Class? (Randy Martin)
  • Social Class and its Global Reproduction in the Age of Austerity (Sue Ferguson & David McNally)
  • On Decent Work: A Global Perspective (Ben Selwyn)
  • The International Olympic Committee: Class and Neoliberal Globalization (George Wright)
  • Money in American Politics (Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgenson & Jie Chen)

Authors

  • Leo Panitch

    York University

    Leo Panitch was a Distinguished Research Professor, renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register. He received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984. He was a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984. He was the Chair of the Department of Political Science at York from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of State and Economic Life series, U. of T. Press, from 1979 to 1995 and is the Co-founder and a Board Member of Studies in Political Economy. He was also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism (1997). He was a member of the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada, 1973-1975, the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, 1975-1984, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute and the Royal Society of Canada. He was an ardent supporter of the Socialist Project.

  • Greg Albo

    York University

    Greg Albo teaches political economy at the Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto. He is currently co-editor of the Socialist Register. He is also on the editorial boards of Studies in Political Economy, Relay, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Canadian Dimension, The Bullet and Historical Materialism (England). Co-editor of A Different Kind of State: Popular Power and Democratic Administration and author of numerous articles in journals such as Studies in Political Economy, Socialist Register, Canadian Dimension, and Monthly Review.

Subscribe to our newsletter and take 10% off your first purchase.