Volume 61 part 2 (August 2016)
Ju Li. Victory and Defeat: The Contentious Politics of One Generation of State Workers in China since the 1960s.
By analysing and comparing three waves of contentious collective action employed by the pioneering generation of Chinese state workers at one particular state-owned enterprise from the 1960s to the present, this study aims to explain its varying forms and to analyse its effectiveness in different historical periods. I argue that the changing political opportunity structure in various historical contexts has greatly conditioned workers' "repertoire of contention" at each moment and, hence, significantly affected the processes, strategies, and outcomes of workers' contentious collective action. This article highlights the paradoxical role of the socialist social contract as a potential but crucial component of "the repertoire of contention", by arguing that different interpretations of the contract, as conditioned by a certain political opportunity structure in different historical periods, could either empower or disempower workers. Both archival and oral history research are used in this study.
Peter Van Dam. Moralizing Postcolonial Consumer Society: Fair Trade in the Netherlands, 1964-1997
Decolonization challenged people across the globe to define their place in a new postcolonial order. This challenge was felt in international political and economic affairs, but it also affected daily lives across the globe. The history of fair trade activism as seen from the Netherlands highlights how citizens in the North grappled to position themselves in a postcolonial consumer society. Interventions by fair trade activists connected debates about the morals of their society to the consequences of decolonization. They reacted to the imbalances of the global market in the wake of decolonization, joining critics from the South in demanding more equitable global relations. It was around this issue of "fair trade" that a transnational coalition of moderate and more radical activists emerged after the 1960s. This coalition held widely dissimilar views regarding the politics of the left and the use of consumer activism. The analysis of their interventions demonstrates that during the postwar era attempts at transforming the global market were inextricably interwoven with visions of a postcolonial order.
Brian Shaev. Workers' Politics, the Communist Challenge, and the Schuman Plan: A Comparative History of the French Socialist and German Social Democratic Parties and the First Treaty for European Integration
The Schuman Plan to "pool" the coal and steel industries of Western Europe has been widely celebrated as the founding document of today's European Union. An expansive historiography has developed around the plan but labor and workers are largely absent from existing accounts, even though the sectors targeted for integration, coal and steel, are traditionally understood as centers of working-class militancy and union activity in Europe. Existing literature generally considers the role coal and steel industries played as objects of the Schuman Plan negotiations but this article reverses this approach. It examines instead how labor politics in the French Nord and Pas-de-Calais and the German Ruhr, core industrial regions, influenced the positions adopted by two prominent political parties, the French Socialist and German Social Democratic parties, on the integration of European heavy industry. The empirical material combines archival research in party and national archives with findings from regional histories of the Nord/Pas-de-Calais, the Ruhr, and their local socialist party chapters, as well as from historical and sociological research on miners and industrial workers. The article analyzes how intense battles between socialists and communists for the allegiance of coal and steel workers shaped the political culture of these regions after the war and culminated during a mass wave of strikes in 1947-1948. The divergent political outcomes of these battles in the Nord/Pas-de-Calais and the Ruhr, this article contends, strongly contributed to the decisions of the French Socialist Party to support and the German Social Democratic Party to oppose the Schuman Plan in 1950.
Evan Smith. National Liberation for Whom? The Postcolonial Question, the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Party's African and Caribbean Membership
The Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) had a long tradition of anti-colonial activism since its foundation in 1920 and had been a champion of national liberation within the British Empire. However, the Party also adhered to the idea that Britain's former colonies, once independent, would want to join a trade relationship with their former coloniser, believing that Britain required these forms of relationship to maintain supplies of food and raw materials. This position was maintained into the 1950s until challenged in 1956-1957 by the Party's African and Caribbean membership, seizing the opportunity presented by the fallout of the political crises facing the CPGB in 1956. I argue in this article that this challenge was an important turning point for the Communist Party's view on issues of imperialism and race, and also led to a burst of anti-colonial and anti-racist activism. But this victory by its African and Caribbean members was short-lived, as the political landscape and agenda of the CPGB shifted in the late 1960s.