Accounts of the great Chicago Teamster strike of 1905 tell us that when the employers attempted to move the wagons driven by non-union workers through the streets of the city, working class women went to their windows and threw garbage, boiling water, and whatever else was available on the heads of the scabs below.
In the left-academic circles in which I travel, the March release of Vivek Chibber’s book-length critique of Subaltern Studies caused quite a stir. Chibber debated one of his antagonists, Partha Chatterjee, at a plenary session of the Historical Materialism conference in May, a confrontation which provided endless fodder for debates on FB and within the Left blogosphere.
Adaner Usmani: I wanted to begin by asking you about the history that precedes the crisis, and specifically about the evolution of European social democracy. On the one hand we have seen social democratic governments in Greece, France and elsewhere entirely complicit in the evisceration of the welfare state, and in the imposition of austerity. On the other hand, the tradition of which they’re a part brought many benefits to Europe’s working classes. The welfare state is a real achievement, after all, and it’s arguably held up better than many radicals argue. Certainly there’s a strong current of academic literature, known as the Varieties of Capitalism (VOC) school, which argues that its degeneration has been overstated.
It would hardly be an exaggeration to suggest that, today, in the baleful shadow of the Great War on Terror, one central site of intra-progressive discord has been the question of the broad Left’s relation to political and militant Islam.