The Trade-Union Left and the Birth of a New South Africa

Claude Jacquin

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 26 (92 pp., €2.75, £2, $3.25)

 In the 1970s and '80s a wave of industrialization contributed to the greatest political and social mobilization in South African history, of which the trade-union movement was one of the central driving forces. One particularly interesting current that emerged was the 'independent trade-union left' that played a key role in the birth of the union federation COSATU. In The Trade-Union Left and the Birth of a New South Africa, Claude Jacquin follows the political, social and economic changes that ultimately brought an end to apartheid. All the forces that tried to combine 'democratic' emancipation with social liberation ultimately failed, he says. The current ANC government's choice for neo-liberal management of South African society is very remote from the options defended in the debates of the 1980s: not only from the socialism once advocated by the trade-union left, but also from the 'national democratic revolution' advocated by its adversaries in the South African Communist Party. Jacquin's account of how these two currents converged as they abandoned their original perspectives should contribute to lively debates.

Claude Jacquin covered South African events for the fortnighly International Viewpoint and carried out research during ten visits to South Africa between 1982 and 1992. His other works include studies of the Angolan revolution and the independence movement in New Caledonia.

€7 including postage

World Bank/IMF/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco

Susan George, Michel Chossudovsky et al.

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 24/25 (116 pp.) [OUT OF PRINT]

 The International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization have managed to impose neo-liberal policies on virtually the entire world. The 16 authors of the anthology IMF/World Bank/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco explain how the IMF and World Bank prevail on governments to sacrifice their inhabitants' health, education and nutrition in order to funnel money to Western banks. Despite rhetoric about 'ecologically sustainable development' and 'social safety nets', pressure to respect 'intellectual property rights' and devote 'everything to export' is pushing the Third World deeper into dependency. Nowhere have these policies slowed global impoverishment: neither in the disaster area that is Africa; nor in Latin America, where the 'lost decade' of the 1980s still drags on; nor in the ruins of Russia's half-dismantled economy.

IMF/World Bank/WTO: The Free-Market Fiasco raises disturbing questions about how unelected institutions are pre-empting democratic decision-making. Its aims are to inform, analyze, provoke thought and discussion, and increase awareness of international initiatives that advance democratic alternatives.


Lean Production - A Capitalist Utopia?

Tony Smith

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 23 (68 pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

Sample ImageAre innovative ways of organizing production and marketing eliminating antagonisms between capital and labour, between producers and consumers, and between different companies? Does 'lean production' unite companies, workers and consumers in the harmonious pursuit of common interests? In Lean Production: A Capitalist Utopia?, Tony Smith explains how lean production is transforming many of the earlier, 'Fordist' ways of organizing the economy. He examines changing relationships between employers and employees, between producers and consumers, and between different firms. In the end he concludes that the real changes brought about by lean production do not alter the exploitative, alienating and anarchic character of capitalism. A socialist economy based on grassroots participation and democratic coordination, he suggests, could match the dynamism of lean production while keeping lean production's broken promises of cooperation and harmony.

Tony Smith is professor of philosophy at Iowa State University and advisory editor of the magazine Against the Current. His books include The Logic of Marx's 'Capital'.

€7 including postage

Do the Workers Have a Country?

José Iriarte 'Bikila'

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 16 (48pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

Download the Notebook

 Marxism has contributed much to the understanding of the national question: its class dynamics, its relationship to internationalism, its political importance and the importance of the slogan of self-determination. Lenin's role in this was particularly significant. But José Iriarte 'Bikila' thinks we should also take other theorists into account, like the Austro-Marxist Otto Bauer and the Irish socialist and patriot James Connolly. Above all, it is important to re-examine a number of issues in the light of contemporary experience. In what circumstances can there be a fusion of Marxist and nationalist traditions? What is the particularity of an oppressed nation in advanced capitalist Europe? Should the borders of a radical left party necessarily be the same as those of the existing states? What is the present significance of independence?

José lriarte 'Bikila' was born in 1945. His thinking on the national question has drawn on his personal involvement and intimate knowledge of the struggle of the Basque people. In 1964 he joined the ranks of the pro-independence organization ETA, leaving in 1973 as part of a current that took part in a regroupment of the radical left. In 1991 he helped found the independent Basque revolutionary organization Zutik.

€7 including postage