Wednesday, 25 November 2015

"We Make Our Own History" discussion event and book launch

How are social movements doing in Ireland? What kind of real change might be on the cards, here and in Europe or further afield? What are the key issues that we should be thinking about if we want to see it happen?

Co-written with Norwegian researcher on Indian movements Alf Gunvald Nilsen, CEESA team member Laurence Cox's book We Make Our Own History: Marxism and Social Movements in the Twilight of Neoliberalism  (Pluto Press) draws on the Maynooth tradition of activist research in social movements to read Marxism as a reflection of the learning of popular struggles and uses this approach to explore how movements grow out of the struggle to meet human needs, how they develop, how the collective agency of the powerful and wealthy works and what all this means for the struggle against neoliberalism today.

To mark the Dublin launch of the book there will be a discussion with Irish activists about the state of movements and our possible futures. The event will be chaired by John Bissett (community worker and activist) with short talks from Margaret Gillan (Community Media Network), Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement) and Fergal Finnegan (MA Community Education, Equality and Social Activism) to open a wider discussion.

The event takes place in Connolly Books (East Essex St, Temple Bar) at 6 pm on Wednesday 9th December. Admission is free and all are welcome. A poster for the event is available here.

About the book:

We Make Our Own History gives us, for the first time, a serious, comprehensive and unapologetically Marxist theory of social movements – of what they are, of where they come from, of how to understand their successes and failures, and of where they stand in relationship to the larger historical development of human society. More than a welcome response to a new conjuncture, We Make Our Own History is a major challenge to the reigning theoretical perspectives in the study of social movements. - Chris Gunderson, Interface

Cox and Nilsen set themselves the audacious goal of reclaiming activist knowledge through filling a void in studies of social movements. They have succeeded: We Make Our Own History is recommended reading for activists serious about bringing into being a better world. – Pete Dolack, Counterpunch

At once handbook and provocation, We Make Our Own History will reach a broad spectrum of readers in many parts of the world, benefiting analysis, strategy, and action. – Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California

A stunning read, one that every activist – and anyone concerned with the world around us – should read. – Jai Sen, Critical Action: Centre in Movement, New Delhi

Readers will be vastly rewarded by this outstanding book and its understanding of the class struggles of social movements and their campaigns and projects across the past, present, and future transformations of capitalism. – Adam David Morton, Professor in Political Economy, University of Sydney

In We Make Our Own History the authors provide an inspiring analysis of the contradictions and struggles that have shaped our society under capitalism, with an emphasis on the social forces that have opposed one another and contributed to its concrete development. The result is an extraordinarily interesting and insightful book. – Asbjørn Wahl, International Transport Workers’ Federation

A hugely important book, a must-read for those interested in movement-relevant theorising with the goal of engaging in praxis leading towards a future beyond capitalism. – Andreas Bieler, Professor of Political Economy, University of Nottingham

Cox & Nilsen provide us with a ‘movement-relevant’ Marxism that is a welcome alternative to ‘structuralist’ or ‘autonomist’ accounts of contemporary neoliberal capitalism which either marginalise or celebrate existing social movement mobilisations rather than helping move them forwards. – Andy Mathers, Social Movement Studies

Essential reading for labour and trade union studies students who wish to gain some sense of the historical and contemporary relevance and interrelationship of workplace inspired/based protest/action and wider protest/action/movements for social justice and of oppositional politics.” – Ian Manborde, International Labour and Trade Union Studies, Ruskin College Oxford

Cox and Nilsen, then, self-consciously attempt to resituate … the activist element inherent within critical thinking by attempting to position Marx within a humanist framework, and to shift the balance of emphasis from an interest in social structures and formations to the conflictual encounters of movement struggles. The book is a valuable contribution to the growing field of social movement theory, clearly written and cogently argued. - Andrew Rowcroft, Marx and Philosophy

We Make Our Own History by Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilsen makes a spirited case for the enduring relevance of Marxism to understand protest movements, however ‘new’ they may aspire to be. The strength of the writing however lies in the necessity the authors recognise for Marxism, and Marxists, to change if it is to retain its unique combination of analysis and action. – Mark Perryman, Philosophy Football