Exploitation Isn’t the Only Thing Wrong With Work: An Interview with Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck

Interview by John-Baptiste Oduor, Jacobin, June 17, 2021.

Many people’s social status and identity are intimately bound up with the jobs they do. That’s not just pernicious capitalist ideology, Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck argue: it can offer the basis for worker resistance to the power of employers.

In a recent paper, Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck discuss the now quite arcane concept of industrial citizenship and the changing status of work in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For many on the Left, concern with the social status accompanying work takes second place to an interest in the exploitation that takes place within the workplace. This dismissal is understandable, given that the social status of work has often been used to justify forms of oppression.

However, earlier this month, Dukes and Streeck spoke with Jacobin’s John-Baptiste Oduor about the complexity, and the political necessity, of defending a vision of the status of work and workers. The authors reflect on several issues important to the Left, including the legacy of left-wing opposition to social democracy and the possibility of combating the low-waged and ostensibly status-free gig economy.

The ideas discussed here emerge out of the authors’ ongoing joint research project on the social and legal norms governing work. Part of this project will take the form of a forthcoming book, Democracy at Work: Contract, Status, and Post-Industrial Justice, from Polity. (…)

Continue reading on jacobinmag.com

The EU’s war in Africa

Interview by Jonas Elvander, Brave New Europe, June 15, 2021.

Planned was an interview concerning European military intervention in the Sahel. It turned out to become a very interesting conversation about European defence policy in general, and the ongoing attempts by France to establish a (French-led) European army post Brexit.

Jonas Elvander: You have previously spoken about the role of the French army in European politics, especially about how it is deployed in conflict zones as a kind of ersatz European army in exchange for favours from other member states, especially Germany. Can you explain how this system works?

Wolfgang Streeck: To begin with the fundamentals, since Brexit France is the only EU member country that has nuclear arms and a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. There can be no doubt that France sees this as a natural entitlement to European leadership on national or “European” security. Here French national interests tend to transform, from a French perspective, into common European interests. More precisely, there is a French national interest in turning French security interests into European ones, in others words, slip in the role of a European hegemonic power. For this France needs Germany, which is by far the strongest economic power in Europe. It also needs to escape from American supremacy over European security policies, by establishing a French-led Europe as an independent world power between the United States and China, more or less equidistant from the two. Here France as  using the EU as a front would claim Northern Africa and large parts of the Middle East as an area of principal interest where it would bear responsibility for what is called „political stability“, the keeping in office of friendly governments that would listen to France when it comes to access to their raw materials or for military alliances and interventions. (…)

Continue reading on braveneweurope.com

Arm, alt, ausländische Wurzeln

Interview mit Monika Nellessen, Allgemeine Zeitung Mainz, 13. März 2021, Seite 3.

Der Soziologe Wolfgang Streeck sagt, warum die Corona-Risiken ungleich verteilt sind und warum er findet, dass ein weiterer Lockdown nichts bringt.

KÖLN/MAINZ. Wenn es um die Pandemiebekämpfung geht, kommen meist Virologen und Mediziner zu Wort. Soziologen, die von Politikern ansonsten gerne übers Wahlvolk ausgefragt werden, finden in den Expertenrunden bislang wenig Gehör. Das führt zu mehreren Fehlschlüssen in der Anti-Corona-Strategie, meint Wolfgang Streeck, der bis zu seiner Emeritierung das Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung in Köln leitete.

Herr Prof. Streeck, gibt es eine unbequeme Wahrheit, die lautet: Alte, Arme und Menschen mit ausländischen Wurzeln haben das höchste Risiko, an Corona zu erkranken?

Das ist wohl wahr, und unbequem ist es auch. (…)

Weiterlesen [PDF]

“I definitely prefer a cooperative over an empire”

Interview by Noémi Lehoczki, LeftEast, February 11, 2021.

NL: For many Hungarians Germany is a socioeconomic and political model to aspire to. In the current structure of the European Union, however, could the German model even be transposed into the context of the European periphery?

WS: Generally speaking, one should be highly suspicious of the idea that national systems can be transplanted to other countries. Each country has to find its own way to peace and prosperity. This applies in particular in the present case. Germany, highly industrialized and export-dependent, can be and is the growth and prosperity pole of the EU because its currency, the euro, is heavily undervalued, due to it being not just the German currency but also that of the entire Eurozone. While Germany has a huge export surplus, the Eurozone as a whole has an even trade balance. This is an ideal situation for a national economy whose prosperity depends on exports and therefore on a favorable exchange rate. Consider also that the European monetary union makes the markets of the other member countries effectively captive to the German economy: however high the German export surplus with, say, Italy may be, Italy cannot devalue against the German currency as it is also the Italian currency, foreclosing this path towards improving the competitiveness of Italian economy and its firms. (…)

Continue reading on criticatac.ro/lefteast/

Also published on braveneweurope.com

The interviewed first appeared in Hungarian on the left-wing news website merce.hu

Interview on „Critical Encounters: Capitalism, Democracy, Ideas“

Podcast by Aufhebungabunga, November 10, 2020.

We are joined by leading German public intellectual Wolfgang Streeck to discuss the role of Germany at the end of the End of History. How is it and the EU faring under the assault of Covid-19? We cover Germany’s economic miracles – postwar and post-2008 -, Merkel’s tactical brilliance and strategic ignorance, and how France retains more of a sense of history. (…)

Podcast [link]


Book reference

Critical Encounters: Capitalism, Democracy, Ideas. London and New York: Verso 2020.

For more information see Verso website [link].

Capitalism and Democracy Are at Odds

Interview by Mohnsen Abdelmoumen, American Herald Tribune, June 9, 2020.

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: Can Europe survive the Covid-19 crisis?

Wolfgang Streeck: It depends on what you mean by “survive“. Complex societies don‘t “die“; something always remains—the question is: what? If you mean the European Union or the European Monetary Union, will they still exist when the virus has left? Of course. If you ask if the virus is undermining them, I think one must not forget that both EU and EMU were already undermining themselves before the pandemic; remember Brexit? Also remember the tensions between Germany and the Mediterranean countries, and between Germany in particular and the new, peripheral member states in the East. The pandemic may or may not have accelerated the decay of “Europe“ as an international organization, or institution; but apart from this and more importantly, the virus has not derailed older tendencies of development that are too deeply rooted politically and economically to be undone by a tiny virus. (…)

Continue reading on ahtribune.com

Die Zeitbombe ist der Zerfall Italiens

Interview mit Thomas Thiel, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung, Mai 6, 2020.

Die nächste Euro-Krise steht bevor. Reichen die alten Instrumente? Ein Gespräch mit dem Soziologen Wolfgang Streeck über die Folgen von Corona für die Europäische Union.

Die Krisen der letzten zwanzig Jahre waren globale Phänomen mit hoher Ausbreitungsgeschwindigkeit. Dadurch hat sich eine gewisse Exekutivlastigkeit im politischen Handeln etabliert. Sind die Staaten dem Tempo der globalen Entwicklungen nicht gewachsen?

Die Staaten sind gegenüber dem rapiden Globalisierungsprozess nicht wetterfest gemacht worden. Globalisierung hat nicht nur Nutzen, sondern auch Kosten. Staaten in der Globalisierung müssen nicht nur ihre sozialen Sicherungssysteme und ihre Bildungssysteme ausbauen, sondern auch ihre Gesundheitssysteme. Die meisten Regierungen haben das heruntergespielt oder die fälligen Ausgaben in die Zukunft verschoben. So wurden in den letzten dreißig Jahren die Kosten der Globalisierung immer mehr durch Schulden statt durch Steuern finanziert. Es wurden und werden riesige Schuldenberge aufgebaut, die von Krise zu Krise gewachsen sind. (…)

Weiterlesen auf zeitung.faz.net

Traducción española

Investitionsstau ist Ergebnis neoliberaler Politik

Radio-interview mit Jürgen Zurheide, Deutschlandfunk, Februar 29, 2020.

Die Infrastruktur in Deutschland ist in keinem guten Zustand. Angesichts des enormen Investitionsstaus stehen derzeit sogar Schuldenbremse und Schwarze Null zur Disposition. Eine Neuverschuldung des Staates sei jedoch an bestimmte Bedingungen geknüpft, auf die die Regierung keinen Einfluss hat, gibt emeritierte Direktor des Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung in Köln, Wolfgang Streeck, zu bedenken. Zudem seien mit neuen Schulden allein längst nicht alle Probleme gelöst.

Jürgen Zurheide: Herr Streeck, wir diskutieren gerade in Deutschland wieder heftig über Schuldenbremse oder möglicherweise die Abschaffung für Investitionen. Wie groß ist der Investitionsbedarf in Deutschland?

Wolfgang Streeck: Also daran kann ja gar kein Zweifel bestehen: Auf kommunaler Ebene gibt es einen gewaltigen Investitionsstau. Wir hier im Rheinland sehen ja auch, wie die Brücken anfangen, für Lastwagen gar nicht mehr passierbar zu sein, weil man die nachrüsten muss. Wir haben in den Jahren der neoliberalen Revolution, wenn man das so nennen will, einfach vergessen, dass Dinge laufend gewartet werden müssen, um auf diese Weise Geld zu sparen. Die Bahn ist ein wunderbares Beispiel dafür, da gibt es einen Investitionsstau von Ausmaßen, die man überhaupt nicht beschreiben kann, weil die Stellwerke nicht mehr funktionieren, die Technologie veraltet ist und so weiter. (…)

Weiterlesen und hören auf deutschlandfunk.de