Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck. Social Europe, March 10, 2021.
Important legal victories for workers against platform corporations remain partial and limited in the absence of legislative and institutional change.
The decision of the UK Supreme Court in the case of Uber v Aslam has caused a great deal of excitement, understandably so. The question before the court was whether Yaseen Aslam and others, for some time drivers with Uber, had been self-employed or, alternatively, ‘workers’ with statutory rights to a minimum wage and paid holidays. (…)
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Sidecar, February 16, 2021.
Whatever else you may think about Angela Merkel, one thing you must allow her: she knows a hot potato when she sees one, and she can pass it on to someone else in no time. In the summer of 2020, Germany having just taken over the presidency of the EU27, it appeared that by the end of the year there might be a vaccine or two, to end the lockdowns once and for all. To Merkel this must have smelled like an approaching pack of rats: delays in research, delays in production, extortionist prices, conflicts over national shares and distribution – and above all the nightmare of nightmares: Germany, rich from monetary union, getting the vaccine first and vaccinating its citizens faster than the others, thereby undermining the ‘ever closer union among the peoples of Europe’. What to do? Move it to Brussels, and fast. (…)
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Pasar patatas calientes: las guerras de las vacunas
El Salto, 22 de febrero de 2021.
Nunca se sabe con seguridad quién hace qué y por qué en Bruselas y en torno a Bruselas, el sociotipo político más impenetrable desde la desaparición de la Unión Soviética.
Con independencia de lo que podamos pensar de Angela Merkel, hay una cosa que debemos concederle: identifica una patata caliente nada más verla y es capaz de pasársela a un tercero en un abrir y cerrar de ojos. En el verano de 2020, apenas habiendo asumido Alemania la presidencia de la UE27, pareció que a finales de año podría haber una o dos vacunas disponibles, lo cual permitiría poner punto final a los confinamientos de una vez por todas. (…)
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In: New Left Review 123, May-June 2020, pp. 75-88.
Friedrich Engels famously spent his working life in the shadow of Karl Marx, a position he now occupies for posterity, and one in which he willingly placed himself. Born in 1820 in the Rhineland town of Barmen, he left school a year before his Abitur on the say-so of his father and, as the eldest son, entered the family business. An autodidact, then, his encounter with Marx left him profoundly impressed by the systematic-philosophical brilliance of the young Hegelian, whom he hailed as a world thinker. By comparison, he himself was no more than, perhaps, a talent. Among the German philosophizing classes of the time, the type of speculative thinking at which Marx excelled was considered the highest form of scientific endeavour; Engels, who shared this outlook, may have seen his own contribution, grounded in positivism, as pedestrian by comparison. In the collaboration with Marx, he understood his role to be that of editor, reader, publisher, translator, publicist and hence also popularizer of Marxian (not Marxist-Engelsian) theory, making it comprehensible to the socialist movement for which it was intended. That the act of translation resulted at times in simplifications and reductive formulations was not only unavoidable but desirable, though the price to be paid for it was the still-lingering suspicion that Engels was incapable of greater complexity. […]
Engels sociologo empirico: tecnologia, guerra e crescita dello Stato
Pubblicato su MicroMega, 8/2020.
Friedrich Engels ha sempre vissuto nell’ombra di Karl Marx. Oggi, nel bicentenario della sua nascita, vale la pena riscoprire l’originalità di un pensiero che alla concezione materialistica della storia ha dato un contributo determinante sottolineando come i mezzi di distruzione esistano accanto ai mezzi di produzione e mettendo l’accento sulla formazione dello Stato, che si inquadra e si sovrappone a quella della classe. Ripercorriamo qui gli approfonditi e rigorosi studi sulla guerra e la tecnologia di colui che può essere definito come uno dei primi sociologi empirici.
Traduzione dall’inglese di Ingrid Colanicchia.
In: Chu, Yun-han and Yongnian Zheng, eds., The Decline of the Western-Centric World and the Emerging New Global Order: Contending Views. Routledge 2020, 37-57.
More than a quarter century after the end of the Cold War, the international state system is in turmoil, both within and between states. The fundamental cause of the growing disorder is the rapid progress of capitalist “globalization”, outpacing the capacity of national societies and international organizations to build effective institutions of political-economic governance. Increasing debt, rising inequality and unstable growth, especially but not exclusively in capitalism’s core countries, indicate a general crisis of governability. As states have become embedded in markets, rather than the other way around, they are governed more by politically unaccountable “market forces” than by their citizens and governments. Global markets and corporations, on their part, are governed only weekly if at all by improvised and often non-governmental institutions of so-called “global governance”. New problems – political conflicts over interests, values and identities, as well as technocratic puzzles and dilemmas, in national and international politics – are appearing almost by the day. Systemic disarray gives rise to a widespread sense of uncertainty. What may be in store for the capitalist world is a period of extreme unpredictability in which structures that had been taken for granted are dissolving without new structures taking their place. (…)
Previously published as an article in Efil Journal of Economic Research, Vol. 1 (2018), No. 3, 30-47. To be downloaded here.
In: Ali, Tariq, Heiner Flassbeck, Rainer Mausfeld, Wolfgang Streeck und Peter Wahl, Die extreme Mitte: Wer die westliche Welt beherrscht. Eine Warnung. Wien: Promedia 2020, 43-61.
Makroskop, 26. Mai 2020.
Das PSPP-Urteil hat einen grundlegenden Konflikt zwischen Bundesverfassungsgericht und Europäischen Gerichtshof ausgelöst. Es geht um nichts weniger als die Frage, ob die EU eine internationale Organisation oder ein Bundesstaat ist.
Das PSPP-Urteil (Public Sector Purchasing Program) des Bundesverfassungsgerichts hat eine weitere Bruchlinie im Aufbau der Europäischen Union freigelegt, nämlich die zwischen Rechtsordnungen mit unterschiedlichen Verfassungsrechtskonzepten. Hier gibt es Parallelen zum Vereinigten Königreich, wo ein Konzept nach EU-Muster, nach dem eine Verfassung Schritt für Schritt von einem letztinstanzlichen Gericht forteschrieben wird, mit der tief verwurzelten Tradition des Regierens durch das Parlament kollidierte, was zum Brexit beitrug. (…)
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¿Construir el Estado a hurtadillas?
El Salto, 20 de mayo de 2020.
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State-building by stealth?
Letters from Europe, May 20, 2020.
In: Crisis and Critique 7 (1), 2020, 214-234.
Abstract: In 1945 Karl Polanyi outlined a vision of a peacetime global state system with a political economy in which small countries could be both sovereign and democratic. The present essay reviews developments between then and now in the light of Polanyi’s analytical framework. Particular attention is paid to the history of the European Union, which after the end of Communism turned into a mainstay of the neoliberal project, culminating in its restoration of an international gold standard under Monetary Union. In the crisis of 2008 the advance of neoliberalism got stuck due to “populist” resistance to austerity and the shift of governance from the national to a supranational level. The paper explores the prospects of current attempts to replace the “Social Europe” and “trickle-down” narratives of European superstate formation, which have lost all credit, with a story about a European army as a necessary condition of a successful defense of “the European way of life”.
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In: New Left Review 118, July-August 2019, pp. 117-139.
Has any polity in world history undergone such a rapid and far-reaching series of transmogrifications as the European Union? Founded as an organization for joint economic planning among six adjacent countries, in the context of the state-managed capitalism of the post-war era, it grew into a free-trade zone, increasingly devoted to neoliberal internationalism under the rubric of the ‘Internal Market’. As the number and heterogeneity of member states grew, ‘positive integration’ was replaced by ‘negative integration’, in effect market-building: the removal of national regulations impeding trade, in an ever-broader sense, within the union. After the fall of the Soviet bloc in 1989, the EU became in addition a geostrategic project, closely intertwined with American strategy in relation to Russia. From a handful of countries jointly administering a small number of key economic sectors, the EU developed into a neoliberal empire of 28 states, obliged under union treaties to allow for freedom of movement for goods, services, capital and labour, and to refrain from ‘anti-competitive’ intervention in their economies. (…)
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First appeared as MPIfG Discussion Paper 18/11. To be downloaded here.
Vorwort zur Foundational Economy Collective, Die Ökonomie des Alltagslebens. Für eine neue Infrastrukturpolitik. Suhrkamp Verlag: Berlin 2019, 7-30.
Das hier einzuleitende Buch handelt von dem alltäglichen Kommunismus, der unserem alltäglichen Kapitalismus unterliegt und ihn überhaupt erst ermöglicht. Gemeint sind die großen Netze der physischen und sozialen Infrastruktur, die moderne Gesellschaften zusammenschließen und ihre Mitglieder produktiv machen. Zu den Ersteren zählen die fest installierten Leitungs- und Schienensysteme, die uns mit Wasser, Strom, Heizung und Transportleistungen versorgen; zu den Letzteren kollektiv institutionalisierte Leistungsbeziehungen,die Gesundheit, Bildung, Pflegeund soziale Sicherheit liefern. Kommunistisch sind diese in mehrfacher Hinsicht. (…)
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In: Johannes M. Kiess and Martin Seeliger, Trade Unions and European Integration. A Question of Optimism and Pessimism? Routledge, London and New York 2019, pp. 46-50.
This is a useful chapter. It summarises the state of the art on an often-overlooked subject, listing the relevant literature in case readers want to explore the matter further. And it supplements this with concise case accounts of recent developments in the relationship between social movements and trade unions in a number of countries. I have nothing to hold against or add to Donatella’s piece. So I will limit myself to one specific aspect of what now tends to be called the “framing” of an issue before I proceed to several, more or less related general remarks on social movement and trade union politics in, and in relation to, the European Union (EU). The intention here is to sketch out a baseline for research and theory on this subject, in the sense of a list of fundamental conditions underneath whatever conjunctural, sectoral, topical, etc., modulations may be observable on top of them. I am doing this because I suspect that much of the work on and discussion of “European integration” is far too occupied with minor fluctuations in current events, to the neglect of deeply rooted priors that remain importantly in force regardless of what happens on the surface.
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