Adventures of Emancipatory Labour Strategy as the New Global Movement Challenges International Unionism

Peter Waterman

Abstract


First suggested in the Netherlands, in the late-1980s, the notion of Social Movement Unionism was ?rst applied in South Africa, where it had both political and academic impact. The South-African formulation combined the class and the popular: a response to this combined class and new social movement theory/practice. The Class/Popular understanding was, however, more widely adopted, and applied (to and/or in Brazil, the Philippines, the USA, internationally), receiving its most in?uential formulation in the work of Kim Moody (USA). A Class/New Social Movement response to this was restated in terms of the New Social Unionism. The continuing impact of globalization and neo-liberalism has had a disorienting e?ect on even the unions supposed by the South African/USschool to best exemplify SMU, whilst simultaneously increasing trade union need for some kind of such an alternative model. Use and discussion of the notion continues. The development of the global justice and solidarity movement (symbolized by Seattle, 1999), and in particular the World Social Forum process, since 2001, may be putting the matter on the international trade-union agenda. But is this matter a Class/Popular alliance, a Class/New Social Movement alliance? Or both? Or something else? And are there other ways of recreating an international/ist labour movement with emancipatory intentions and e?ect? What is the future of emancipatory or utopian labour strategy in the epoch of a globalized networked capitalism, and the challenge of the Global Justice and Solidarity Movement?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2004.315

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