Reflections on Marxism and Welfare: East and West

Video of lecture and text of presentation. The text originally appeared on Paul Stubb’s website, Paul’s thoughts on the multi-level, complex and contested nature of everything. Presentation for “Marx and the Modern History of Welfare”, University of Trier 24 May 2018 Introduction Let me start by saying what an honour it is to have been invited to this event. I hope, however, that the rather pretentious title of my intervention will not raise your expectations too high. In the time available, I really want to present some personal, even idiosyncratic, reflections only on two moments – one involving Marxi ..

Romanian Agriculture and its Discontents: Its Social Importance, Its Economic Insignificance

This article has been published in collaboration with Bilten. According to the Eurostat statistics for 2016, one third of all farms in the EU can be found in Romania- roughly 3,600 thousand agricultural holdings. Similarly, the country boasts the largest share of labor force employed in agriculture in the EU, a staggering 26% of the population working in the sector, way beyond any possible European average. By contrast, France features a puny 2.14 %, Croatia, 9.16 %, and Poland 11.5 %. Even compared with non-EU European countries, the figures are outstanding: only 6.71 % of Russia’s labor force is employed in a ..

The crisis of capital, money and state in Turkey: An attempt at demystification

‘If they have their dollars, we have our Allah’ – This is how the President of Turkey responded to the historic drop in the value of the lira in August this year before calling for boycotts of US products and discouraging the citizens from exchanging their liras into foreign currency in the name of defending the national economy against the so-called interest rate lobby and foreign powers. Only a few days later a swap agreement between the central banks of Qatar and Turkey was announced amidst an extreme hike in inflation and continual fall in the value of the domestic currency. There was a pron ..

A Freight-ening Tale: Bulgaria Finally Stands up to the EU

This article has been published in collaboration with Bilten. The following is an overview of a recent episode in the relentless war on social rights in Bulgaria. I will focus on the aborted reform of freight drivers’ work conditions as it presents us with a rare case of a clear internationalization of the extremely exploitative industrial relations prevalent in Bulgaria within the international freight sector. In 2017, during a trip to Eastern Europe, French President Emmanuel Macron drew attention to one of the obvious effects of the market integration of nations as distant and divergent in economic developme ..

Transformations of housing provision in Romania: Organizations of subtle violence

This article is based on empirical data and is a small part of an ongoing research project on housing struggles and transformations in housing policies in Romania. We look at these transformations within the wider historical and economic context, outlining some of the links between privatization and austerity measures, individualization and privatization of housing provision, and the role of NGOs as subtle facilitators of such (often violent) processes. Waves of housing policy in the context of “transition” In Romania, as in other ECE countries, “the implementation of housing reform became one of the first ..

Class and minority struggles in Iran today: Interview with Kamran Matin

Following Donald Trump’s repudiation of the Iran sanctions deal and threats of war and the economic protests that brought thousands of people out to the streets against the country’s government, the Islamic Republic is now increasing its repression in the predominantly Kurdish Northwest. LeftEast’s interview with Dr. Kamran Matin of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex begins with the Kurdish question, but touches on the relationship between all three phenomena from a leftist perspective. LE: Can you give us a timeline of the general strike in Iranian Kurdistan following ..

Scrap mines, call centers and hashish plantations: The grim options facing Albanian workers

Editors’ Note: Over the last three decades or so, the workplace has receded from visibility in scholarship and in cultural productions. This disappearance is a global phenomenon of the neoliberal era, but the shift in East European societies, which used to valorize labor in many ways, has been particularly extreme. To the outside observer, it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine what people do upon entering the gates of their workplace. This is why articles such as the following one by Arlind Qori, about the employment options Albanians face and the attendant forms of violence, oppression, and expl ..

Russia’s Electoral Circus

September 9, 2018 saw regional elections on a massive scale in Russia, with 4,000 representative seats, at various levels of government, at stake: special elections for 7 deputies in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma; 26 of the 85 heads of regional governments across Russia; as well as elections to regional parliaments and representative organs of administrative centers. Elections in Russia long ago ceased to generate any hopes of real, practical potential for change. The results, as a rule, are known in advance – and in the unlikely chance of an authentic “struggle,” it’s i ..

The Only Way to Fight Fascism Is United in a Front (Interview with Onur Hamzaoglu)

As Turkey entered the new presidential system in the June 2018 elections, with sweeping new powers granted to its re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the repression of the opposition continued, now without the pretext of the State of Emergency that officially ended on July 18 this year. Shortly after that, I interviewed one of the vocal critics of Erdogan’s regime, Onur Hamzaoglu, co-spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK) and an internationally known academic. Hamzaoglu was released from five months of pre-trial detention at a court hearing in Ankara on July 19, 2018. He had been arrest ..

The putsch that never was: Romanian PSD in turmoil

Note from the LeftEast editors: this article has been published in collaboration with the Balkan web-portal Bilten.org. The original publication can be found here. Liviu Dragnea, the head of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), recently survived a small rebellion. A few of his colleagues asked him to resign his positions as head of the party and head of the Lower House in Parliament. However, Dragnea, whose nickname Daddy evokes the patriarchal atmosphere of a famous Tennessee Williams play, managed to win this battle. Or at least this is what is visible publicly: the internal vote went heavily in favor for Dragne ..