The Information Proletariat and Globalization – Hookes

The Information Proletariat and Globalization – Hookes

Submitted for the International Conference:

The Working Class: What is it and where is it?

At the Economics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Moscow, 11-12 July 2006

Introduction: The fetishisation of manual labour

It is generally recognised that the character of work has changed considerably during
the 20th Century. The classical Marxist proletariat, manual factory workers, from
being the overwhelming majority, say, 70-80 % of the workforce, are now between
10-20% in advanced capitalist countries. Those members of the workforce who
provide services, especially information processing and delivery services, are now the
majority.1 A sub-group of the ‘information proletariat’ are sometimes called
‘knowledge workers’, that is,  those who jobs require high level of knowledge input
obtained from advanced schooling. They are now about one third of the workforce in
the US, more than twice as numerous as the manual factory proletariat. They are
expected to become at least 40% of the working population, say by, 2010. [1] This
latter group can be considered to be the new core proletariat of a knowledge-based
society. It contains many highly privileged groups such as university teachers and
researchers, and so on, whose level of alienation is, let us say, tolerable, as well as
less privileged technical knowledge workers.  The information proletariat as a whole
includes many highly exploited workers such as those in call-centres and data-input

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Doing: in-Against-and-Beyond Labour – Holloway

Peter Waterman sez: This is the first theoretical paper I have come across that attempts to reconceptualise labour in the light of 21st C capitalism and the new social movements. In so far as it draws (critically) on Marxist theory at its most abstract level, it makes for heavy reading. It invites popularization. And it provokes responses. Political-economists of the world, respond! Preferably on ReinventingLabour. Now read on…

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Of Human Greed – Taylor interviews Harvey

Of human greed: Laurie Taylor interviews David Harvey

The Humanist, Vol 125, Issue 4, July/August 201o

A search for the reasons for the economic meltdown has prompted a turn back to Marx. Laurie Taylor meets the “dialectical materialist” geographer David Harvey who, 40 years into his career, is suddenly being taken seriously Continue reading

Organizing for Defeat – Green

from Labour/ Le Travail no. 62, Fall 2008

Organizing for Defeat: The Relevance and Utility of the Trade Union as a Legitimate Question

Brian Green

The continuity of struggle is easy: the workers need only themselves and the boss in front of them. But the continuity of organization is a rare and complex thing: as soon as it becomes institutionalized it becomes used by capitalism….
Mario Tronti, Lenin in England
THE DECLINE AND RETREAT of the North American labour movement in the past two decades has been a matter of extensive commentary and scholarly and political debate.1 While these discussions have contributed immensely to our understanding of economic restructuring and strategic imperatives for the labour movement’s continued political viability, much of the literature is limited to either a “counting of the dead” or a focus exclusively on the aggressive strategy of capital in the post-Keynesian era. Surprisingly little has been said about unions themselves and the relationship between their organizational consolidation as partners of a once ascendant Keynesian class compromise and their subsequent paralysis in the face of the collapse of that compromise. This paper will attempt to initiate such a discussion by tackling these questions: how did the historical development of the trade union form render it particularly vulnerable to the ravages of capitalist restructuring? And what, then, might this suggest about the future viability of the union as we know it? Continue reading

Peter Hall Jones, New Unionism

Interview with Peter Hall-Jones, New Unionism (2009)

Interview: Dan Gallin
Bureaucratism: Labour’s Enemy Within
By Peter Hall-Jones*, for the New Unionism Network ( 2009

Where does bureaucratism in the union movement come from? More to the point, how can we get rid of it? In an attempt to answer this question we interviewed the outspoken Dan Gallin, current Chair of the Global Labour Institute. Prior to holding this position, Gallin served 29 years as General Secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant and Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF). He was also President of the International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations (IFWEA) from 1992-2003, and Director of the Organization and Representation Program of Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) from 2000-2002. (more on DG below*). Continue reading

The Ideological Legacy of the Social Pact – Wahl

International labour movement

The ideological legacy of the social pact – by Asbjørn Wahl (2004)

Asbjørn Wahl is an official of the Norwegian union for municipal and health sector workers and is vice chair of the Road Transport Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). He is also the national co-ordinator of the Norwegian Campaign for the Welfare State (For velferdsstaten), a trade union based alliance fighting against privatisation and deregulation, and to protect the social achievements of the welfare state. A version of this article was published in the US socialist magazine, Monthly Review, January 2004. See also his article: World Bank Policies and Labour Rights, on the GLI web site (go to: Issues, then to: WTO/WB/IMF).
The trade union movement in Europe is on the defensive. Not only that, it is also in a deep political and ideological crisis. The general picture is that the trade unions, for the time being, are not able to fill their role of defending the immediate economic and social interests of their members. They have lost ground in all sectors and industries. The strongest and most influential trade union movement in the capitalist world in the post W.W.II period is thus today openly confused, lacks a clear vision and hesitates in its new social and political orientation. The strange thing is that it is the same theories, analyses and policies which gave it its strength in the post War period that have now become its heavy burden. The ideological legacy of the social pact policies is now leading the trade union movement astray. Continue reading

New Proletarians – Antunes

MARXISM ALIVE 1 – June 2000

The New Proletarians of the World at the
Turn of the Century

Ricardo Antunes

This text corresponds to chapter VI of the book
“Los Sentidos del Trabajo: Ensayo sobre la Afirmación y la Negación del

Editora Bomtempo 1999, São Paulo

It is very curious that, while the numbers of social beings living
from selling their labour is increasing worldwide, there should be so many
authors who bade farewell to proletariat, defended the idea of
decentralisation of the category labour, defended the end of human
emancipation through labour. What I am going to present here is a way to
show how it is possible to go in the opposite direction with respect to
these tendencies that are very much present and very much mistaken. Continue reading