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Mobilisation and Class Struggle: A Reply to Gall

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When I began writing Rethinking Industrial Relations: Mobilization, Collectivism and Long Waves during the mid-1990s, die leadership of die British trade-union movement had already begun its romance with the class-collaborationist ideology of ‘social partnership’, successor to the ‘new realism’ of the 1980s. The Labour Party leadership was already moving to the right and was well on the road to consummating its marriage with neoliberalism, epitomised most starkly by Tony Blair's positive endorsement of two decades of Conservative anti-trade-union law. What remained of the world Communist movement was still reeling from the earth-shattering events of 1989. These developments exerted a growing influence amongst the intellectual community which studies ‘industrial relations’ (employment relations might now be a more appropriate term). Both in Britain and the US, the intellectual agenda shifted towards labour flexibility and competitiveness, variously represented in the literature as the study of labour-management ‘co-operation’, ‘social partnership’ or ‘human resource management1. Rethinking Industrial Relations was a re-assertion of the continuing relevance of Marxist theory at a time when it had become distinctly unfashionable, and it is fitting that the extended review in a recent issue of this journal should have been written by another Marxist active in the field of industrial relations.


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