The online journal Organizing Work includes a review by Marianne Garneau of The Feminism of the 99%: A Manifesto by Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya and Nancy Fraser. Garneau centres on the concept of a “women’s strike” heavily promoted by the authors and others. She challenges firmly, but sympathetically, many of the authors’ key assumptions, pointing out that, far from union membership being about white heterosexual males, black women are proportionately over-represented. Probing the roots of current union weakness, Garneau argues for the unions’ potential for fighting sexism and for women’s reproductive rights precisely because women can wield economic power in the workplace.
She raises pertinent questions about who the “strikes” are directed at, as well as the lack of concrete demands, pointing to a symmetry between “flexible, nonspecific, non-withdrawal of labour” and neoliberalism: “‘This isn’t the same old, boring economic strike that you’re used to’ beautifully mirrors the ‘We don’t really employ you’ of contemporary casual employment arrangements.” An excellent, thought-provoking read. Go to http://organizing.work/2019/03/the-womens-strike-reconsidered/
In June’s Monthly Review, Ian Angus shows how the drive for profits on the part of the pharmaceutical giants, willing to hand out large quantities of antibiotics for all ailments in humans and animals, has led to the terrifying rise of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. For Angus, the new superbugs that have evolved in the past few decades may define the Anthropocene epoch just as much as the warming climate and, like climate change, will affect the world’s poorest people the most.
The same issue contains a critical account, by Jean-Claude Paye, of the French Gilets Jaunes movement. Paye is particularly sceptical about the movement’s rejection of leaders, which has allowed the media to define for themselves who the leaders are, and for its contradictory claim to represent “the people”, while expressing demands over wages that are inevitably working class demands: “The way in which the movement defines itself is problematic. While the expressed demands concern wages and purchasing power, the actions are identified as coming from a citizens’ movement. While the wage question is at the centre of the demands, employers are completely removed from the equation.”
The Gilets Jaunes are also the subject of a major article by Stathis Kouvelakis in the latest issue of New Left Review (II/116.117). He too focuses on the political ambiguity of the movement, which he tries to capture by a comparison with the Chartists, seeing both as essentially movements of the politically excluded but not class-based. This is a contribution to a special double issue of NLR, which includes much of interest—for example, an interview with Christine Buchholz, Die Linke MP and leading figure in Aufstehen gegen Rassismus, Evgeny Morozov on how the digital resources currently monopolised by big capital could help animate a decentralised planned economy, Cédric Durand’s excellent review of Adam Tooze’s great history of the financial crisis, and a debate among Democratic Socialists of America activists.
John Molyneux reaffirms the necessity of revolutionary party-building elsewhere in this issue, in part in response to the self-dissolution of the International Socialist Organization in the United States. Paul Le Blanc, who has written extensively on what he has called “unfinished Leninism”, and who was a member of the ISO, has written some thoughtful reflections on its implosion: https://tinyurl.com/LeBlancISO
SM, CR & AC