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

Women's Lives in the New Global Economy

Penny Duggan & Heather Dashner (editors)

IIRE Notebook for Study and Research no. 22 (68 pp. €2.75, £2, $3.25)

 Women's Lives in the New Global Economy links together transformations that are affecting women in factories and farms, as peddlers and professionals, as neighbours, mothers and wives, in old age and even in the womb. Twelve feminist activists and scholars on five continents describe sweeping changes that are being brought about by the growth of world trade, regional economic integration (EU/NAFTA/ MERCOSUR) and austerity policies that respond to pressures for 'competitiveness'. Focusing sometimes on working conditions, sometimes on family life, sometimes on the interaction of gender, class, race and caste, they show how much capital's projects for economic reorganization depend on women's cheap labour in the Third World, 'flexible' labour in advanced capitalist countries and unpaid labour in homes everywhere. And they show how from Sweden to Malaysia new forms of women's oppression are stimulating new forms of women's resistance.

These contributions are the product of several years of sessions at the IIRE devoted to examining women's place in society. In all their diversity, they illustrate how activists collaborating within a shared frame of reference can use their different experiences to develop a truly international analysis of the processes at work today.

€7 including postage