Andreas Bieler, Ingemar Lindberg, and Devan Pillay (eds.): Labour and the Challenges of Globalisation: What Prospects for Transnational Solidarity?

Author:Novelli, Mario
Position:Book review
 
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Andreas Bieler, Ingemar Lindberg, and Devan Pillay (eds.) Labour and the Challenges of Globalisation: What Prospects for Transnational Solidarity? Pluto Press: London, 2008; 330 pp: 9780745327570 65 [pounds sterling] (hbk); 9780745327563 19.99 [pounds sterling] (pbk)

In this current period of global economic crisis and financial austerity, it is more important than ever to ensure that it is those that have feasted at the banquet of neoliberal globalisation, and not those who have suffered, who are squeezed. If that is to be achieved, workers organisations of all colours and stripes need to build a fight-back. After thirty years of setbacks and attacks on the global labour movement, this is by no means an easy task. This excellent edited volume provides us with a real sense of the 'global' nature of the difficult situation of workers movements, whilst also presenting a picture of the 'regional' and 'national' particularities of these struggles and the spaces and possibilities for change. It also manages to locate these labour-movement struggles within a context of other resisting subjects (peasant movements, social movements, etc.) and attempts to understand their relationality and the possibilities for alliance building.

The book's structure reflects the editors' attempts to bring coherence to this huge topic, with big globally focused introductory chapters followed by national and regional case studies, and concluding with chapters that project forward to the global struggles ahead. The book project itself emerged out of an initiative linked to the World Social Forum process, The World Forum For Alternatives (led by Samir Amin, the Egyptian radical and dependency thinker), and many of the chapters are revised interventions taken from seminars at the 2007 WSF in Nairobi, Kenya. It is therefore fitting that the substantive content begins with a broad and expansive foreword by Samir Amin that seeks to locate the theme within its structured context. In his classical manner, he maps out the global shifts from rural to urban living, subdivides centres from peripheries, and distinguishes between the 'stabilised' and 'precarious' popular classes to present a useful tabular depiction of the uneven geography of contemporary capitalism. What he highlights is both the massive migration of the world's population from rural to urban areas (from a 70:30 distribution to 50:50), the massive increase in the 'precarious' popular classes (which has risen from...

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