Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Kees van der Pijl
Chapter 1: Labour, war and world politics: contemporary dynamics in world-historical perspective
During the last decade of the twentieth century, there was an almost complete consensus in the social science literature that labour movements worldwide were in a general and severe (some argued terminal) crisis. By the turn of the century, however, a growing number of observers were suggesting that labour movements were on the upsurge, most visible as a mounting popular backlash – from Seattle to Genoa – against the dislocations provoked by contemporary globalization. Yet, in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, with demonstrations and strikes being cancelled around the world, questions were raised about the future of movements that had appeared to be on a strong upward trajectory. Then, on 15 February 2003, with war looming in Iraq, some of the largest demonstrations in world history – with strong labour movement participation – were held in hundreds of cities throughout the world.