New edition

Workers of the World

Volume 1 – Number 10

October 2022

Letter from the editor

This tenth issue of Workers of the World – International Journal on Strikes and Social is being published after a long time hiatus for which the pandemic situation and its procession of miseries is partially, although not solely responsible. However, we would like to associate this “renaissance” of our journal with the full recovery of Sjaak van der Velden, member of our Editorial Board, who for many months struggled with Covid 19 and its effects, for a long and healthy life.

Along this path, we were forced to replace the dossier previously announced for this issue with another one, coordinated by Raquel Varela and Roberto della Santa, focused on the history of revolutions in the 20th century, with a particular emphasis on what we can call history from bellow and people’s history. To this dossier also contributed Verity Burgmann (University of Melbourne), Attila Melegh (Corvinus University, Budapest), and Michael Seidman (University of North Carolina Wilmington). The issue is completed with articles by David Mandel (University of Québec at Montreal) and Eddie Cottle (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa) – a real journey around the world, although it certainly took us more than 80 days to complete it.

We are also pleased to announce the Fifth International Conference on Strikes and Social Conflicts, which will take place in Rotterdam at the headquarters of the Dutch Trade Union Confederation in 22-24 June, 2022. It will be focused on the lessons learned from the approaches and strategies of trade unions and social movements in terms of responses to the social and economic changes that accompanied globalisation. See you there!

António Simões do Paço, Executive Editor

in this edition…

Michael Seidman

May ’68 Fifty-One Years Later

The French workers’ strikes of May 1968 reflected traditional working-class demands for less work and more pay. The student movement of the sixties confronted both left and right by advancing a cultural revolution of gender equality, expansion of personal freedoms, and eventually multiculturalism. During the long sixties, antiwork ideologies gained popularity and unprecedented public exposure by attempting to synthesize the New Left’s desire for simultaneous personal and social liberation. Antiwork movements also provoked a powerful counterrevolution that endorsed labor and the work ethic. Nevertheless, in France, Spain, and other Western nations, much of the sixties’ cultural revolution has survived, even if challenged. 

Eddie Cottle

Lenin and Trotsky on the Quantitative aspects of Strike Dynamics and Revolution

Lenin and Trotsky took a keen interest not only of the qualitative aspects of strike dynamics but also the quantitative aspects to examine the changing levels of consciousness, the organisational capacity of the working class and the overall temporal dynamics of the class struggle. They examined the close connection between the strike weapon and economic fluctuations and the detailed movement from the economic to the political strike in order to gauge the path to revolution. The main purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the quantitative method used by Lenin and Trotsky’sintegration of the quantitative aspects in explaining the qualitative dimensions of strikes and protest.

Attila Melegh

The Betrayal of Workers. Counterrevolution in the 1980s: the Transitory Class and their Hegemony

In dismantling a socialist, non-capitalist mixed economy Hungarian elites were following a clear line of neoliberalism with an almost unconditional West-centrism. In this process intellectuals and expert technocrats played a specific role and the paper argues that they formed a transitory “new class” which could start a large-scale privatization process in the name of “Europe”. This formation in a specific global historical moment can explain how the voices opposing the capitalist transformation and the critical left were silenced already in the 1980s. We can also see the specific circumstances of how and why the new class could establish hegemony through civilizational discourses for a while, and how their later control collapsed. This betrayal of workers by a supposedly socially minded professional and intellectual elite needs further analysis in order to understand how through a historic dialectic logic the later authoritarian/illiberal rule can consolidate its positions so easily at the end of a globalization cycle.