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Class Matters

Abhay Kumar

Edited by Leo Panitch  and Greg Albo
Leftword, New Delhi, 2014, pp. xii 375, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXIX NUMBER 9 September 2015

Noted Marxist theorists Leo Panitch and Greg Albo have edited the latest annual issue of The Socialist Register (2015) and devoted it to the analysis of class on a global scale. Comprised of as many as eighteen chapters, Transforming Classes covers various manifestations of classes in different parts of the world such as India, China, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa, Chile, Brazil, the USA and the regions of Europe. The major argument running through all the essays is that class matters. Unlike the recent ‘fashion’ among a section of academia to deny the category of class or their reluctance to use it as a framework, the essays of the volume have stressed the continuing relevance of class. These essays have ably studied ‘growing social inequality’, ‘deepening’ capitalist social relations and ‘changing configuration of the capitalist classes’ (p. x). While showing the high level of exploitation and corruption embedded in the process of neoliberalism, most of the essays document intensification of class struggles in many parts of the world. While the themes of these essays are mostly about economy and politics, the domains of culture, sports and cinema are also explored from a class perspective. The book opens with the essay by Susan Ferguson and David McNally, which studies the exploitation of working classes in North America. Departing from social reproduction theorists who operate within the nation-state framework, Ferguson and McNally argue that workers are ‘hierarchically and racially differentiated in the global labour market’ and for a genuine working class politics, the workers’ solidarity has to be wider. Much in the same way, Jane McAlevey article bats for collective unity and developing a common vision. Similarly, Lin Chun, another contributor, studies the ‘making, unmaking and remaking of the major classes in China since the Communist Revolution’. Chun’s paper, with a focus on peasants-turned workers, draws our attention to structural inequality based on regional, sectoral, ethnic, and gender lines. One of the key reasons for this, as Chun contends, is the political strategy of the Chinese ruling classes ‘to make way for reform and opening’ in which labour laws are tailored to serve the interests of capital (p. 25). Besides Chun, the process of transformation of classes has also drawn the interests of another contributor to the volume, Randy Martin, who has hinted at the phenomenon of the decomposition of professional managerial class (PMC). Similarly, the essay by Hugo Radice shows the ‘demise’ of ...

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