The struggles of precarious youth in Tunisia

16 Feb

Friday 2nd March, 15:00-17:00

CSE Midlands proudly presents:

The struggles of precarious youth in Tunisia: the case of the Kerkennah movement


By Lorenzo Feltrin (University of Warwick)

Friday 2nd March, 15:00-17:00

ERI (European Research Institute) building [G3], room G52

University of Birmingham

Lorenzo Feltrin analyses the origins and the dynamics of the social movement against the energy corporation Petrofac that took place in the Tunisian archipelago of Kerkennah between 2011 and 2016. The Kerkennah movement is seen as part of a broader cycle of mobilisations for social justice that started in 2008 and continues to the present day. The main subjects of these mobilisation are young people lacking sources of regular income and their core demands are secure employment and local development. It is argued that communal solidarities were key in compensating for the lack of occupational cohesion among the protesters.

All welcome!


Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left

20 Nov

Capital and Class/CSE Midlands is hosting an evening with Ian Parker, author of “Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left” (Zero Books, 2017).


Tuesday 28 November
Centrala – Unit 4, Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, Birmingham B5 5RT

From the publisher: “Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left comprises short essays on fifty revolutionary keywords, each word being put to work on a contemporary political issue. With keywords ranging from academicisation to neoliberalism, from postcolonial to Zionism and with subjects including, Badiou, North Korea, sexual violence and Žižek, the book concludes with an essay mapping the development of progressive keywords before our century of revolution, which began in 1917, keywords that emerged in the fifty years of struggle between 1917 and 1967, and revolutionary keywords for the new left today”.

All welcome!

Picturehouse Strike Speaker Tour

20 Nov

Picturehouse Strike Speaker Tour
Thursday 23 November, 6-7.30pm
University of Birmingham, Arts Lecture Room 3


The ongoing Picturehouse dispute has seen over 300 cinema workers take strike action for over 12 months. In an event hosted by Capital and Class/CSE Midlands, Kelly Rogers, one of the trade unionists involved in organising the strike, will talk about the campaign and what we can do to support it.


Workers in the Picturehouse cinema chain have been demanding a real Living Wage since 2014. A series of strikes then resulted in a 26 percent pay rise and a commitment from Picturehouse to work towards implementing the Living Wage over the subsequent two years. The company reneged on this deal, and since September 2016 workers have been back out on strike. Running for over a year now, the renewed dispute has grown considerably: from one cinema on strike, to six; approximately 50 union members in the chain, to over 300. In addition to a real Living Wage, workers are demanding decent sick pay, company maternity and paternity pay, recognition for their chosen union, BECTU, and pay rises for their supervisors, managers, chefs and projectionists.

Predominantly young workers, many of them migrants, the Picturehouse dispute bucks the trend of a trade union movement in decline, and shows us that precarious, low-paid and migrant workers are leading the fight for better pay and conditions today.

Kelly Rogers is an organiser for the Picturehouse strike and one of four sacked union representatives from the Ritzy Picturehouse in south London.
More details:…/picturehouse-cinemas-…

Spring 2017 readings – The Econocracy

23 Mar

This term (Jan – April 2017) we are reading The Econocracy, by Joe Earle, Cahal Moran and Zach Ward-Perkins of the Post-Crash Economics Society at the University of Manchester.

The book gives a unique insight into the mindless indoctrination that passes as an education in the discipline of mainstream economics.

As the authors put it, ‘Economic experts are at the heart of econocracy. Yet their understanding of the world is often limited to a fixed set of models, taught in a manner that is almost completely disconnected from the real world. … The result of teaching students only the neoclassical way of thinking is that economic experts have no critical perspective on the limitations of their expertise. Most students are not even told that there are other ways to think about the economy and as a result they do not see economics as a subject with debate and disagreement. In the words of one bemused student, ‘I had always thought of economics as a lively debate. Until I started university, that is.’.’

9 March, 12.30: Introduction and Chapter 1

23 March, 1.00: The Econocracy.chs2.3., Muirhead Tower, University of Birmingham

6 April, 12.30: Econocracy_final, University of Birmingham

All welcome!

Michael Roberts – The Long Depression

11 Jan

CSE Midlands are happy to welcome Michael Roberts, to present the main ideas of his new book, ‘The Long Depression’. 

Michael Roberts —The Long Depression: Capitalism in Stagnation since 2008
University of Birmingham
Wednesday, 25th January
University House, Room 111
All welcome! 

Michael Roberts has worked in the City of London for over 30 years as an economist. He has an intimate knowledge of the workings of finance capital as a result. He presents a Marxist analysis of modern economies as opposed to mainstream economics (neoclassical and Keynesian). The Marxist thesis is that production under capitalism is for the profit of the owners of capital and there is continual conflict between meeting the needs of people and profit for the few. The contradiction was starkly expressed in the Great Recession of 2008-9, the biggest collapse in capitalist production since the 1930s. In his new book, Roberts explains that, since the end of the Great Recession, the major economies have remained in a Long Depression as in the 1930s and 1880s that they cannot seem to escape from. The book explains how and why this happened and what happens next.

CSE Midlands reading schedule 2016-7

25 Oct

CSE Midlands reading group have scheduled to read Michael Roberts’ The Long Depression: How It Happened, Why It Happened, And What Happens Next, published earlier this year (2016).

Adopting an ‘unapologetically Marxist perspective’, Roberts argues that the global economy remains in the throes of a depression, due to an ongoing problem of low profitability and high levels of debt; the only ‘solution’ to which will be yet another economic slump, which would need to destroy the value of existing capital and therefore restore the profitability of that which remains.

The reading schedule is as follows:

All meetings are to take place at the University of Birmingham, starting at 12.30pm:

20th October – Intro, chapters 1 & 2 (Thursday) – Strathcona SR2

4th November – chapters 3 & 4 (Friday) – Strathcona SR 6

17th November – chapters 5 & 6 (Thursday) – Muirhead 716

2nd December – chapters 7 & 8 (Friday) – Muirhead 716

15th December – chapters 9 & 10 (Thursday) – Muirhead 716

6th January – chapters 11 & 12 (Friday) – Muirhead 716

12th January – chapter 13, appendix 1 (Thursday) – location tbc

20th January – Appendix 2 (Friday) – Muirhead 950

All welcome!


2016-17 first meeting

4 Oct

The first meeting of CSE Midlands this academic year will take place on Monday 10th October at 12.30 in room 429 in the Muirhead Tower.

This meeting will be to discuss the texts we wish to read this year and any other events we may want to hold. Suggested texts so far include:

We are open to other book suggestions, so please bring them with you to the meeting or send them through email. If you have any suggestions regarding speakers to invite or events to host, please feel free to let us know. We will also be discussing viable meeting times for this year, so please inform us if you have preferences.

All welcome

Against the commercialisation of the university: strikes, protests and/or Jeremy Corbyn?

16 May

Against the commercialisation of the university: strikes, protests and/or Jeremy Corbyn?

A solidarity event hosted by CSE Midlands in support of the UCU pay dispute

25 May 2016, University of Birmingham Chaplaincy (i.e. on the “right” side of the picket line)

Over-paid managers are taking over our universities. Our wages continue to decline in real terms, whilst the managers who introduce “5-year plans” and “departmental restructures” see their bloated salaries continue to escalate. The University of Birmingham’s Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Eastwood, earns £416,000 per year, one of the highest in the country. Its Chancellor, Lord Bilimoria, was recently exposed by international press coverage of the Panama Papers, as having earned £3.2 million in dividends at the same time as his company, Cobra Beer, was about to go bankrupt. Should the university be run according to ‘market logic’?

This event, replacing a planned launch event for the current special issue of the journal Capital & Class, on Left Convergence, will see authors from that special issue discuss the various ways in which we can and should learn from past and present discussions and experiences of social struggle, so that we might (re)discover how to end the neoliberal logic that is taking over our universities. The special issue can be found here:


12.00 Welcome, strike rally and update, Roland Brandstaetter, University of Birmingham UCU Branch President

12.10 Student Support for the Modern Languages campaign

12.20 Elio Di Muccio, University of Birmingham UCU anti-casualisation campaign, “You cannot have your cake and eat it: employers, casualisation and the proletarianisation of the workforce”

12.30 LUNCH (provided)

1.00 Introduction and the case for left convergence, Alex Prichard and Owen Worth

1.30 On representation and prefiguration, Teivo Teivainen

1.45 Lessons from horizontal politics, Nick Kiersey

2.00 Different context, same questions? the Kurdish struggle and the Rojava revolution, Yagmur Savran

2.15 Open discussion: maximising impact and gaining stronger leverage in our campaigns

3.30 END – Drinks (provided)

Location: St Francis Hall, “O2” in this map:

Hosted by CSE Midlands

Open to all picketers, those on strike, and supporters – children welcome


Left-Wing Convergence?

3 May




Special Issue launch event

Left-Wing Convergence?
Capital and Class, 40(1)

Wednesday 25 May 2016, 1.15 – 5.15pm
University of Birmingham, Muirhead Tower 415

Confirmed speakers: Alex Prichard, Owen Worth, Yagmur Savran, Simon Choat, Nicholas Kiersey, Teivo Teivainen.

The current issue of Capital and Class is a Special Issue: Left-wing convergence. The aim of the special issue is to consider the prospects for convergence between different strands of left thought and practice, and especially that between anarchism and Marxism. As the editors of the special issue, Alex Prichard and Owen Worth, argue, “in the current context, convergence between the two has not merely become a possibility but, one might suggest, a necessity.”

The special issue includes contributions from Alex Prichard and Owen Worth, Teivo Teivainen, Bice Maiguashca, Jonathan Dean, and Dan Keith, Judith Vey, Nicholas Kiersey and Wanda Vrasti, Simon Choat, Stuart Ingham, and Angela Wigger. It can be found here:

This Special Issue launch event will feature discussion and presentations around the core issues raised.


1.15 Welcome

1.30: Introduction: Left-wing convergence, Alex Prichard (University of Exeter) and Owen Worth (University of Limerick and managing editor of Capital and Class)

2.00: The Rojava Revolution: An experiment in left convergence?, Yagmur Savran (UNRISD/University of Bradford)

3.00-3.15: tea/coffee

3.30: Panel/papers

Simon Choat (Kingston University), Marxism and anarchism in an age of neoliberal crisis

Nicholas Kiersey (presenting) (Ohio University) and Wanda Vrasti (Humboldt University), A convergent genealogy? Space, time and the promise of horizontal politics today

Teivo Teivainen (University of Helsinki), Occupy representation and democratise prefiguration: Speaking for others in global justice movements

4.30: Appraising the possibility for left-wing convergence: a discussion led by David Bailey (University of Birmingham)

5.15 End, followed by drinks

Attendance is free. Hosted by CSE Midlands. Please register by emailing:

More details:

CSE Midlands Winter reading schedule

16 Nov

This is the reading schedule for the winter and into spring 2016.

As always, all are welcome!

  • 6th November Critical Pedagogy and the Academy I: the politics of academic work

Frederick Moten and Stefano Harney – “The Academic Speed-up” in Workplace: the Journal for Academic Labour. Abstract:

Stefano Harney and Frederick Moten – “Doing Academic Work” in Chalk Lines: The Politics of Work in the Managed University. Description:

  • Friday 27th November Dialectical Materialism


Muirhead 431

Ernst Bloch – Commentary on ‘Theses on Feuerbach’

Following on from last session’s reading and discussion, Ernst Bloch provides an extended commentary of this piece by Karl Marx.

Herbert Marcuse – “The History of Dialectics” in Herbert Marcuse: Marxism, Revolution and Utopia (Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Volume 6)

Marcuse recounts the history of dialectics in an accessible way.

  • Friday 11th December Critical Pedagogy and the Academy II: the political economy of academic work

12.30 – 1.30

Muirhead 431

Ian Pirie – “The Political Economy of Academic Publishing” in Historical Materialism. Abstract: HERE

Massimo De Angelis and David Harvie – “Cognitive Capital and the Rat-Race: How Capital Measures Immaterial Labour in British Universities” in Historical Materialism. Abstract: HERE

Reading over the break: David Lodge – Nice Work (single chapter)

A novel based on campus and in the city of Birmingham by notable English Literature professor David Lodge. This novel follows an English literature academic who is forced to take part in an exchange programme which puts her at the heart of declining local British industry.

  • Friday 15th January Marxism and Value

12.30 – 1.30

Muirhead 431

Karl Marx – “Fragment on Machines” in Grundrisse

This short section of the Grundrisse sees Marx analysing the role of technology in capitalist development. The arguments featured in these pages have notably served as the theoretical basis of developments in autonomous Marxism.

Robert Kurz – The Substance of Capital (single chapter)

This book, from which we would like to select a chapter, is an important contribution to Marxism from the German Wertkritik, or value-form critique. It has recently been translated and is about to be published in English.

  • Friday 5th February Critical Pedagogy and the Academy III: the abolition of academia and independent working class education


Muirhead 431

Richard Hall – “On the Abolition of Academic Labour: The Relationship Between Intellectual Workers and Mass Intellectuality” in Triple C. Abstract: HERE

Colin Waugh – PLEBS (pamphlet)

This pamphlet is a strong account of how public education was mobilised in Britain to undermine autonomous working class education. It also tells a tale of how the British working class proceeded to resist and defeat this attempt at co-optation.

  • Friday 26th February The Local State and the Management of Public Money


Muirhead 431

CSE State Group – Struggle Over the State (pamphlet)

This is a rare pamphlet by the CSE State Group – featuring a Marxist examination of changes in the British state in the midst of capitalist crisis in the 1970s.

Cynthia Cockburn – The Local State

This is a short but very good book from which we would like to select a chapter. In it, Cockburn theorises the local state from a Marxist perspective on the basis of empirical studies of working class communities in Britain.

Simon Clarke – “State, Class Struggle, and the Reproduction of Capital” in The State Debate

This book chapter is arguably the best contribution of a seminal collection of open Marxist and Marxist-inspired writings on the state. It surveys all preceding literature and summarises the findings of Marxist state theory to date.

  • Friday 18th March – Ways of Seeing


Muirhead 431

Boaventura de Sousa-Santos – Epistemologies of the South (single chapter). Description: HERE

John Holloway – “Read Capital: The First Sentence” in Historical Materialism. Abstract: “Contrary to received opinion, Marx’s analysis in Capital does not start from the commodity, it starts from wealth. This has enormous theoretical and political implications”. SEE HERE

  • Friday 25th March – Spring and Summer Group organisational meeting


Muirhead 431

All welcome!