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How Liverpool’s working class fought redundancies, closures and cuts in the age of Thatcher

The last quarter of the twentieth-century brought forth enormous change to the lives of working-class Britons. This transformation came mainly in the form of widespread industrial closure and the impoverishment associated with permanent unemployment. No British city bore closer witness to this phenomenon than Liverpool. The despair of joblessness and economic deprivation blighted Merseyside to a significantly greater extent than any other major British conurbation. Liverpool had frequently been prone to industrial unrest since 1945, but it was the dawn of Thatcher and the rise of neoliberal economics which made this city a nucleus of resistance against the encroaching tide of monetarism and sweeping de-industrialisation. This critique explores six case studies which illustrate how elements of a highly mobilized and politicized working-class fought against the rapid rise in forced redundancies and increasing industrial closures. Some of their responses included strikes, factory occupations, organising and politicizing the unemployed, effecting radical left-wing municipal politics, and sadly, even surrendering to violent civil unrest. This critique concludes that in the range, intensity and use of innovative tactics deployed during these conflicts, Liverpool stood out from every other British city. Liverpool was distinctive mainly because of its own unique history which involved a long, tortured, familiarity with poverty and mass unemployment.

Abstract only

This book sees Keynes as neither villain nor hero and develops a sympathetic ‘left’ critique. Keynes was an avowedly elitist and pro-capitalist economist, whom the left should appropriate with caution. But his analysis provides insights at a level of concreteness which Marx’s analysis largely ignored and which were concerned with issues of the modern world which Marx could not have foreseen. A critical Marxist engagement can simultaneously increase the power of Keynes’s insight and enrich Marxism. To understand Keynes, whose work is liberally invoked but seldom read, the book first puts Keynes in context, explaining his biography and the extraordinary times in which he lived, his philosophy and his politics. The book describes Keynes’s developing critique of ‘the classics’, of mainstream economics as he found it, and summarises the General Theory. It shows how Keynes provides an enduringly valuable critique of orthodoxy but vital insights rather than a genuinely general theory. The book then develops a Marxist appropriation of Keynes’s insights. It argues that Marxist analysis of unemployment, of money and interest, and of the role of the state can be enriched through such a critical engagement. The book addresses Keynesianism after Keynes, critically reviewing the practices that came to be known as ‘Keynesianism’ and different theoretical traditions that have claimed his legacy. It considers the crisis of the 1970s, the subsequent anti-Keynesian turn, the economic and ecological crises of the twenty-first century, and the prospects of returning to Keynes and Keynesianism.

The past, present and future of social democracy and the welfare state

This book outlines the reasons for the development of and need for social democracy and the welfare state. It begins with the reaffirmation that post-2008 Anglo-America has seen the greatest concentration of wealth since the Great Depression, some nine decades earlier. The book reviews the thought of classical liberals like Adam Smith, democratic theorists like Alexis De Tocqueville and Matthew Arnold, and early social democrats like John Stuart Mill and Beatrice Webb. It further details the reasons for the derailing of the welfare state. Milton Friedman's ideas about the free market were institutionalized by Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in the UK, both of whom dismantled the welfare state, or as much of it as possible. The book talks about the collapse of the Grand Narrative of the Left in the 1980s and 1990s. How this led to the 'great forgetting' in Anglo-America, and to a lesser extent in continental European social democracies and welfare states as well, is discussed. The book argues that 'forgetting' the past success of social democracy has been costly. It highlights that globalization does not explain unemployment in Anglo-America; nor is it the cause of inequality in either the US or the UK. A comparison of Anglo-America's social model with the European social model of the welfare and social democratic states of continental Europe, follows. Even with the high unemployment rates of the European Union, most of Europe is still as economically efficient as the US and the UK.

Crisis, reform and recovery

The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 shook the foundations of the global economy and what began as a localised currency crisis soon engulfed the entire Asian region. This book explores what went wrong and how did the Asian economies long considered 'miracles' respond, among other things. The combined effects of growing unemployment, rising inflation, and the absence of a meaningful social safety-net system, pushed large numbers of displaced workers and their families into poverty. Resolving Thailand's notorious non-performing loans problem will depend on the fortunes of the country's real economy, and on the success of Thai Asset Management Corporation (TAMC). Under International Monetary Fund's (IMF) oversight, the Indonesian government has also taken steps to deal with the massive debt problem. After Indonesian Debt Restructuring Agency's (INDRA) failure, the Indonesian government passed the Company Bankruptcy and Debt Restructuring and/or Rehabilitation Act to facilitate reorganization of illiquid, but financially viable companies. Economic reforms in Korea were started by Kim Dae-Jung. the partial convertibility of the Renminbi (RMB), not being heavy burdened with short-term debt liabilities, and rapid foreign trade explains China's remarkable immunity to the "Asian flu". The proposed sovereign debt restructuring mechanism (SDRM) (modeled on corporate bankruptcy law) would allow countries to seek legal protection from creditors that stand in the way of restructuring, and in exchange debtors would have to negotiate with their creditors in good faith.

Trade union benefits and the advent of state policy
Noel Whiteside

4 Transforming the unemployed: trade union benefits and the advent of state policy Noel W hiteside Introduction: defining unemployment In his early work, Chris Wrigley wrote extensively on the relationship between the Liberal Party and the labour movement in general and on David Lloyd George and the trade unions in particular, notably during the years surrounding the First World War. The present chapter revisits this relation­ship – less to revise Chris’s original contribution than to add to it, by reviewing the pre-war Liberal governments’ well known welfare

in Labour and working-class lives
Work camps in Britain, 1880–1940

The book provides a comprehensive account of work camp movements in Britain before 1939, based on thorough archival research, and on the reminiscences of participants. It starts with their origins in the labour colony movement of the 1880s, and examines the subsequent fate of labour colonies for the unemployed, and their broadening out as disciplined and closed therapeutic communities for such groups as alcoholics, epileptics, tuberculosis sufferers and the ‘feeble-minded’. It goes on to examine utopian colonies, inspired by anarchist, socialist and feminist ideas, and designed to develop the skills and resources needed for a new world. After the Great War, unemployed camps increasingly focused on training for emigration, a movement inspired by notions of a global British national identity, as well as marked by sharp gender divisions. The gender divisions were further enhanced after 1929, when the world economic crisis closed down options for male emigration. A number of anti-industrial movements developed work camps, inspired by pacifist, nationalist or communitarian ideals. Meanwhile, government turned increasingly to work camps as a way of training unemployed men through heavy manual labour. Women by contrast were provided with a domesticating form of training, designed to prepare them for a life in domestic service. The book argues that work camps can be understood primarily as instrumental communities, concerned with reshaping the male body, and reasserting particularistic male identities, while achieving broad social policy and economic policy goals.

Theories and evidence
Josep Banyuls
Albert Recto

7 Labour segmentation and precariousness in Spain: theories and evidence Josep Banyuls and Albert Recio Introduction Spain is a country with strongly marked contrasts in the labour market. Since the economic crisis of the 1970s until today it is the European country that has experienced the greatest fluctuations in the volume of employment. During periods of recession, unemployment rates have been among the highest worldwide, but conversely, during recovery periods, employment growth has been very intense. It is also the European labour market with the greatest

in Making work more equal
Norman Flynn

2 Fiscal policies, social spending and economic performance in France, Germany and the UK since 1970 Norman Flynn Introduction This chapter looks at the post-1970 development of social policy, its fiscal implications and economic consequences in three European countries. Its purpose is to test a stereotypical ‘left’ proposition, formulated in defence of European social democracy against neo-liberalism, such as: There is a ‘European Social Model’, incorporating a high level of social protection for unemployment and retirement, which, since 1973, has been

in In search of social democracy
Philip J. O’Connell

increase participation in society. Job loss may be associated with poverty, psychological distress and more general social exclusion. Less than 40 per cent of adult African nationals in Ireland are employed, far less than the average for Irish ‘natives’ or for other immigrant groups. 2 They also suffer much higher rates of unemployment than the national average. The pattern is similar in other European labour markets. This chapter explores the underlying reasons for African disadvantage in the Irish labour market. Previous research has generated a substantial body

in Immigrants as outsiders in the two Irelands
David Madden

an association between the incidence of mental stress and individual-level ­socioeconomic factors, such as age, gender, principal economic status (PES), education and income. ­ Time-series studies, on the other hand, look at ­aggregate historical data for ­factors such as suicide or hospital admissions and examine the degree to which we observe over time an association between these measures and ­macroeconomic aggregates such as GDP growth, ­unemployment, inflation etc. It is crucial to note that for both types of data it is often the case that the best we can hope

in The economics of disability