'Work hard, get paid.' It's simple. Self-evident. But it's also a lie - at least for most of us. For people today, the old assumptions are crumbling; hard work in school no longer guarantees a secure, well-paying job in the future. Far from a gateway to riches and fulfillment, 'work' means precarity, anxiety and alienation.
Discussing everything from the history of work under capitalism, to social reproduction and the trade union movement, our panel are:
Amelia Horgan, author of Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism; Sarah Jaffe, a reporting fellow at Type Media Center and the author of Work Won't Love You Back; and Orlando Lazar, a political theorist and college lecturer at the University of Oxford, whose research focuses on power and domination at work.
More episodes from "Radicals in Conversation"
Repealed: Ireland‘s Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights
1:08:06Content warning: rape, suicide On 25 May 2018, the Irish people voted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution. This amendment, which had been introduced in 1983, not only made abortion illegal in Ireland, but equated the life of a pregnant woman to the life of a fertilised embryo. Despite this criminalisation, the ban on abortion was always resisted and circumvented. In the years leading up to the 2018 referendum, a grassroots movement pushing for repeal emerged on an unprecedented scale, sending tens of thousands of people out canvassing in villages, towns and cities around the country. This victory for the Irish Repeal movement set the country alight with euphoria. But, for some, the celebrations were short-lived – the new legislation turned out to be one of the most conservative in Europe. People still travel overseas for abortions and services are not yet commissioned in Northern Ireland. This month Pluto published a new book, Repealed: Ireland's Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights, by Camilla Fitzsimons, with Sinéad Kennedy, and a foreword by Ruth Coppinger. We are joined on the show by Camilla, Sinéad and Ruth to discuss the history of the Catholic Church and women’s oppression in Ireland, the introduction of the Eighth amendment in 1983, and the qualitative turning points in the long road to repeal. We also consider the lessons from the campaign, and the challenges that still remain, more than three years later.
Join the Union!
52:54The trade union movement in Britain has existed for nearly two centuries: from the Tolpuddle Martyrs, to the 1888 Matchgirls’ strike, to the militant action of Women machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham in 1968 - organised labour has a rich, if complicated, history. But in the ebb and flow and workers’ power over the decades, we find ourselves at a historic low point. Union membership is declining, with young workers in particular less likely to be part of a trade union than ever. In every year since 1991 the number of strikes has been lower than in any year prior to that point. Much of this decline can be laid at the door of successive rafts of anti-union legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher, and more recently by David Cameron, raising the legal bar for strike ballots and outlawing secondary action. But as our guests on this month's show argue, reports of the trade union movement’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Not only is the need for unions more urgent than ever as we face our second winter of the Covid-19 Pandemic, but workers are taking action across the economy and winning. And it is women, young people and migrant workers who are leading the charge. We are joined on the panel by: Eve Livingston, author of Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions; Jane Hardy, author of Nothing to Lose But Our Chains: Work and Resistance in 21st Century Britain; and Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). --- Find out more about the IWGB: iwgb.org.uk
Fighting for Climate Justice and a People‘s Green New Deal
59:41Throughout 2021 we have witnessed a number of devastating and deeply disturbing extreme weather events across the globe. From flooding and forest fires, to soaring temperatures, it is abundantly clear that global warming is accelerating faster than anticipated, and our window of opportunity to combat its worst effects is shrinking commensurately. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in Glasgow at the end of October, but many of us would question whether the process is capable of delivering the radical emissions reductions we need in the timescale required, or indeed if any process so dominated by the rich nations of the global north is likely to result in an agreement that has the principles of climate justice at its core. Training our gaze elsewhere, this month we consider the framework of the Green New Deal, in its myriad formations: from largely status-quo visions of green capitalism, to the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez GND resolution, to more radical programmes founded on the principles of anti-imperialism, agroecology, and just transition. Joining us on the panel are: Max Ajl, author of A People’s Green New Deal; Chris Saltmarsh, author of Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice; and Adrienne Buller, a Senior Research Fellow at Common Wealth, and author of the forthcoming book The Value of a Whale: On the Delusions of Green Capitalism (Manchester University Press, 2022).
1:09:25In May 2021, Pluto published a new edited collection from Jules Joanne Gleeson and Elle O’Rourke, titled Transgender Marxism. The book offers a groundbreaking synthesis of transgender studies and Marxist theory. Exploring trans lives and movements, the collection’s contributors delve into the experiences of surviving as transgender under capitalism. They explore the pressures, oppression and state persecution faced by trans people living in capitalist societies, their tenuous positions in the workplace and the home, and give a powerful response to right-wing scaremongering against ‘gender ideology’. Joining us on the panel to discuss the themes of the book, are: Jules Joanne Gleeson, a writer, comedian and historian who has published essays in outlets including Viewpoint Magazine, Invert Journal and VICE. She has performed internationally at a wide range of communist and queer cultural events, and is co-editor of Transgender Marxism; and Farah Thompson, a Black, bisexual trans woman who lives in San Diego. She advocates for anti-imperialism, LGBT rights, decriminalisation of drug use and sex work, and self-determination of Black and colonised peoples. Farah is the author of one of the book’s chapters, titled ‘The Bridge Between Gender and Organising’. Listeners of Radicals in Conversation can get an exclusive 50% off Transgender Marxism through plutobooks.com. Just enter the coupon PODCAST at the checkout.
Gypsies, Roma and Travellers: The Policing Bill and Institutional Racism
1:05:15The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a far-reaching piece of legislation that would, if passed into law, result in an enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers, severely curtailing the right to peaceful protest. Over the summer, many people have taken to the streets in #KilltheBill protests to voice their opposition and alarm. One aspect of the Policing bill that is perhaps less discussed is the manner in which it will specifically threaten Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. In this episode we look at the histories, identities and lived realities of GRT people in Britain today, and the ways in which anti-GRT racism is already manifested institutionally. This episode is structured in two parts. Firstly we have an interview with Jo Clement, Managing Editor and Creative Director of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine. Jo is also a Roma Gypsy and a member of the Drive2Survive team - a grassroots campaign against Section 4 of the Policing Bill, that threatens Gypsy, Roma and Traveller life in Britain. In the second part of the show we are joined on the panel for a more in-depth discussion with two fantastic guests: Luke Smith, a Romani-Gypsy activist and founder of GRT Socialists; and Ben Smoke, Politics Editor at Huck magazine, and one of the Stansted 15.
Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism
52:26'Work hard, get paid.' It's simple. Self-evident. But it's also a lie - at least for most of us. For people today, the old assumptions are crumbling; hard work in school no longer guarantees a secure, well-paying job in the future. Far from a gateway to riches and fulfillment, 'work' means precarity, anxiety and alienation. Discussing everything from the history of work under capitalism, to social reproduction and the trade union movement, our panel are: Amelia Horgan, author of Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism; Sarah Jaffe, a reporting fellow at Type Media Center and the author of Work Won't Love You Back; and Orlando Lazar, a political theorist and college lecturer at the University of Oxford, whose research focuses on power and domination at work.
Dark Academia: How Universities Die
44:02Content warning: suicide Academia was once thought of as the best job in the world - a career that fosters autonomy, craft, intrinsic job satisfaction and vocational zeal. And yet you would be hard-pressed to find a lecturer who believes that now. Indeed, there’s a strong correlation between the marketisation and commercialisation of higher education over the last 30 years and the psychological hell now endured by its staff and students. In his new book, Dark Academia: How Universities Die, Peter Fleming delves beyond the glossy brochures of smiling students, and lingering misconceptions of intellectual life in the ivory tower, into the hidden underbelly of the neoliberal university. It is a world dogged by mental illness and self-harm, authoritarian managerialism, students as consumers and ever-more competitive individualism which casts a dark sheen of alienation over departments. We are joined on the panel by Peter Fleming and Simon Lilley, Professor of Information and Organisation at the University of Leicester’s School of Management.
'Border Nation' and the Case for Abolition
53:59Borders are more than geographical lines - they impact all our lives, whether it's the inhumanity of deportations, or a rise in racist attacks in the wake of the EU referendum. Border Nation, the new book by Leah Cowan, shows how oppressive borders must be resisted. Laying bare the web of media myths that vilify migrants, Leah dives into the murky waters of corporate profiteering from borders by companies like G4S, and the ramping up of everyday borders through legislation. She looks at their colonial origins, and explores how a draconian approach to border crossings damages our communities. This month we are joined on the show by Leah, for a discussion all about borders: their history, whose interests they serve, and how people are actively resisting them today. We also talk about the compelling case for border abolition. Find out more about the book: https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745341071/border-nation/ Listen to the unabridged version of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/plutopress
Empire's Endgame: Racism and the British State
44:26We are in a moment of profound overlapping crises. The landscape of politics and entitlement is being rapidly remade. As movements against colonial legacies and state violence coincide with the rise of authoritarian regimes, it is the lens of racism, and the politics of race, that offers the sharpest focus. The 'hostile environment' and the fallout from Brexit have, over the last few years, thrown the centrality of race into sharp relief, and yet discussions around racism have too often continued to focus on individual behaviours. Empire’s Endgame foregrounds instead the wider political and economic context, and the authors trace the ways in which the legacies of empire have been reshaped by global capitalism, the digital environment and the instability of the nation-state. We are joined on the show this month by four of the co-authors of Empire's Endgame - Gargi Bhattacharyya, Sita Balani, Nadine El-Enany and Luke de Noronha. Our discussion covers the state's deployment of racialised 'folk devils', the persistent allure of nationalism, a collective longing for authoritarian state intervention and the role of gender and sexuality in how the performance and functions of the state. Find out more about the book: https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745342047/empires-endgame/ Listen to the unabridged version of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/plutopress
Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb
1:36:25In the early hours of the morning of the 12th October 1984, a bomb exploded in the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Five people were killed and many more were injured. The bombing was an attempt by the Provisional IRA to kill the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and her cabinet. Patrick Magee, the man responsible for planting the bomb, was eventually apprehended, put on trial and imprisoned. He was released in 1999, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. The following year he met Jo Berry, the daughter of Sir Anthony Berry MP, one of the 5 people killed at Brighton. The conversation they started at their first meeting had a profound impact on both of them, and it has continued ever since. Their ongoing dialogue, and their friendship, is now more than 20 years in the making, and an extraordinary example of what is possible, even in the face of profound differences, when there is a genuine commitment to honesty, inclusion and dialogue. This month Pluto publishes Patrick Magee’s memoir, Where Grieving Begins: Building Bridges after the Brighton Bomb. The book recounts the influences and events of Patrick's life, reflecting on his motivations and the political context in which he acted; on armed struggle, the peace process and the legacies of the conflict. The book’s foreword is written by Jo Berry. This month we're joined on the show by Patrick Magee and Jo Berry, to talk about the Troubles, the Brighton Bomb and healing the wounds left by the conflict. --- Building Bridges for Peace: http://buildingbridgesforpeace.org/