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‘A Tribute To Venezuela’ at Kapu, Cardiff, 14.11.18

Once the richest country in Latin America, Venezuela is now broke thanks to the collapse of the oil industry and general mismanagement of the economy. For the last 6 years people has been starving, Caracas has been the most violent city in the world and the government has been focusing on changing the constitution to give itself more power rather than focusing on its population’s well-being. The Latin American Society invites you this next Wednesday November 14th from 6 to 10 pm at KapuCardiff to honour the Venezuelan people that lives in Cardiff and its surroundings with a social night. A talk by Dr. Joey Whitfield related to social-political shifts in Latin America over the years, Venezuelan music, traditional food sell by The Queen Pepiada • Original Venezuelan food and Canaima Coffee and a discussion forum with Venezuelan people living in the UK sharing their personal experiences and beliefs regarding this humanitarian crisis. We have conjoined efforts with Unicef on Campus Cardiff University, Cardiff Volunteering and Made in Venezuela Stroud to raise funds for “Barriguita Llena” campaign that collects funding for the people with major need in Venezuela, such as the elder, the children and people living on the rural places. Bring any donation in cash you may like to contribute with as we are going to collect some fundings that day. Come, have a drink and listen to first-hand experiences told by Venezuelans. Being aware of what is happening in Latin America is the first step to drive change.   When I walked through the doors of Kapu nightclub in St Marys Street to attend this Venezuela night I couldn’t at first believe the size of the audience. The club was packed with a vibrant healthy assortment of mostly Latin Americans with plenty of authentic Venezuelan ex-pats. I took up a seat next to my university friend and for the first two hours of the night we were graced with three lectures followed by a group debate / discussion. Dr Joey Whitfield – International Solidarity and the Decline of the Pink Tide Joey, a lecturer in Cardiff University, opened proceedings with a more general look at the politics of the Latin America region. Hugo Chavez was the extreme socialist leader that was elected into power in Venezuela in 1999. Chavez, who aligned himself closely with the communist Fidel Castro régime in Cuba, was not alone in being a left wing Latin American leader. A pink tide engulfed the region with…

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Nineteenth Century Revolutions and the French Working Classes

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Q] What was the impact of the revolutions and political uprisings of 1830, 1848 and 1870 on the French working classes?          The French Revolution was a critical event in global history. The effects of this revolution continued to reverberate across French society well into the nineteenth century and three subsequent revolutions occurred. The subjects of this essay are these three revolutions in 1830, 1848 and 1870 and the specific effects on the working classes shall be analysed. In 1789 the sans-culottes played an important role although afterwards conservative consolidation meant that the revolution ultimately favoured the bourgeoisie. Similarly, in the nineteenth century revolts, the power of working classes was often used to fuel the revolutions themselves. Thereafter conservatism dominated politics, resulting in benefits to the bourgeoisie and aristocracy, with the demands of the working classes often overlooked. In focussing on each nineteenth century revolution it shall be necessary to identify the causes of unrest and the results of the uprisings in terms of politics. The very fact that there was a repetitive cycle of revolution indicates that there were underlying political instabilities dominating France. After Napoleon, France reverted to a Bourbon monarchy. However, revolutionary gains were not entirely reversed and the King was bound by certain restrictions, unlike his ancestors. 1789 can be regarded as a ‘Bourgeois Revolution and ‘the nobles were, along with the clergy, the clear losers from the revolution’ (Magraw, 1988:25). The Restoration aristocracy clawed back much of their political power under the Bourbons and their power climaxed preceding the 1830 July Days. Charles X had supported policies for properties lost during the Revolution to be returned to their owners, a political bone of contention. In the immediate years preceding 1830 a classic economic crisis had emerged, inducing food shortages and forcing up grain prices. This deeply unsettled peasants and the urban masses. Charles X introduced restrictive censorship measures that had an immediate effect on one group of workers: the printers. The disenchanted bourgeoisie succeeded in rallying emotions among artisans and it was this element of the working classes that did the backbone of the fighting during the ‘Trois Glorieuses’. This artisan class were the first to identify as a proletariat and demonstrate the birth of the working class in France. They agreed with progressive republican ideas thrust upon them by the bourgeoisie. Artisans were comprised of the old craft workers and the industrial revolution was increasingly…

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Seminar Presentation: A History of French Labour – 29.11.17

Today I gave a seminar presentation on the History of French Labour and below is the 15 slide presentation I prepared on Powerpoint for the seminar.   History of French Labour – Seminar 29.11.17   The history, present and future of the French labour movement: continued division, contestation and weakness?   History 1789 Revolution creates a strong Jacobin State, characteristic of the French government until the present day. (An archetypical dirigiste state) Original Revolution plus three subsequent 19th century revolutions (July Monarchy, Second Empire, Third Republic) all tend to use the working class / masses to ignite the fire of revolution but ultimately all favour bourgeois ideals. Industrialization France is relatively late in comparison with its European neighbours to undergo the industrial revolution. When it does industrialize, it maintains a large peasant element in rural areas and the emerging working class are concentrated in certain northern regions and in the big cities The Nature of the French People Due to the Jacobin structure of government, intermediary bodies between the state and the people are not encouraged. Also, the French people have a genuine disinterest in ‘signing-up’ to large groups / organizations although they do have Nationalistic tendencies when it comes to State interests. This leads to the small membership numbers of Trade Unions. Trade Unions 1791 Le Chapelier Law – Outlaws Trade Unions Trade Unions eventually legalized in 1884 Right to strike recognized in 1864, before Unions were legal. Working class solidarity not encouraged at all and there has always been conflict in any attempts for the Labour movement to organize itself. Trade Unions Union membership always been traditionally low, rising to a peak of about a third of employees following 1968 Strikes. Today’s membership figures are only around 7% of workforce. Union membership, however not essential to the way they work in France and their core members are good at propelling the workforce into strike action. Lowest Union density in Western World Collective Bargaining coverage, however, is very high at 95%, much higher than international economic competitors. Trade Unions CGT Confédération Générale du Travail CFTC Confédération Française des Travailleurs Chrétiens CFDT Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail CFE-CGC Confédération Française de l’Encadrement – Confédération Générale des Cadres FO – Force Ouvrière Others – SUD – Solitaires Unitaires Démocratiques –CNT – Confédération Nationale du Travail –FSU – Fédération Syndicale Unitaire   Employers There is a Paternalistic approach to employees Many of…

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World Talk Series – Cardiff University MLANG – Oh Lord, Emmanuel – Macron’s Fall From Grace? By Dr Nick Parsons – 25/10/2017

  Delivered by experts from Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, the World Talk Lecture Series is a new series of talks on topics of current interest in various countries around the world.   Dr Nick Parsons – Biography Nick Parsons completed his PhD, comparing French and British industrial relations, at the London School of Economics. After teaching positions in several French and British universities, he joined the French Department in the University of Cardiff in 1991. He is now Reader in French and teaches courses on translation, French politics and the French labour movement. His research interests focus on French and European politics, industrial relations and social policy. He has published many book chapters and journal articles on these issues and is the author of French Industrial Relations in the New World Economy among other titles.   Abstract: In May 2017, Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential elections with a large majority over his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, and his La République en Marche party followed this by securing a large majority in the French parliament. At the time, he was hailed as the saviour of France, and potentially of a Europe confronted with right-wing populism. Just a few months later, however, his popularity has dwindled and he is facing street protests. How can this be explained and what does it mean for his project to reform France and Europe?   Dr Nick Parsons began his talk with an introduction to French President Emmanuel Macron. He said that he just didn’t know what was going to happen to him. Academics find it difficult to predict the future. He cannot understand why the change in French Labour laws has not led to greater strike action as of yet. Macron has a sort of self-projection – He likens himself to some kind of God. Hence the title of the lecture. It is strange to see why somebody who came to power on a wave of adulation should find himself so low in opinion polls. Macron is only 39 years old and entered the Presidential race late on and managed to secure a landslide victory in Parliament. Macron’s victory in 2017 saw him defeat Marine Le Pen in the second round of Presidential elections, winning 66% of the vote. In Parliamentary elections his Party – La République En Marche (LREM) gained an absolute majority in the National Assembly with 308 of…

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Review: Marxism and the French Left – by Tony Judt

This is an in depth study of socialism in France. The book is broken up into a series of long chapters, each covering a critical period of the political left in France. The emergence of working class political culture in the nineteenth century is explored and we see the development of trade unionism and the creation of socialist parties. The development of the social party, the SFIO is looked at in detail, prior to its rise to power under Blum. We then see the decline in the power of the socialists as they concede proletariat votes to the PCF, communists. The chapter on the French communists looks at the theorists who were so successful at internationalising the ideas and images of French Marxism. Sartre among the most famous, also there is a detailed study of Althusser, who unlike many of the French Marxist writers – was also an actual member of the PCF. The tailing off off Communist popularity as it clung hopelessly to the vestiges of Stalinism, leads to the book’s final chapter, where the rise of the socialists yet again, culminates in the ascendancy of Mitterand at the 1981 French general elections where the socialists swept surprisingly into power. this victory is compared with the Revolution of 1791 and the Paris Commune of 1871 in terms of its relevance to leftist politics in France. I found this book to be very detailed and some chapters were a bit tricky in terms of ideas and specialist vocabulary – but the book, read for a History of French Labour course at Cardiff University – has certainly enlightened me on certain aspects of French working class politics and I feel that the knowledge imparted has been vital.

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Review: Marxism and the French Left – by Tony Judt

marxism and the french left

This is an in depth study of socialism in France. The book is broken up into a series of long chapters, each covering a critical period of the political left in France. The emergence of working class political culture in the nineteenth century is explored and we see the development of trade unionism and the creation of socialist parties. The development of the social party, the SFIO is looked at in detail, prior to its rise to power under Blum. We then see the decline in the power of the socialists as they concede proletariat votes to the PCF, communists. The chapter on the French communists looks at the theorists who were so successful at internationalising the ideas and images of French Marxism. Sartre among the most famous, also there is a detailed study of Althusser, who unlike many of the French Marxist writers – was also an actual member of the PCF. The tailing off off Communist popularity as it clung hopelessly to the vestiges of Stalinism, leads to the book’s final chapter, where the rise of the socialists yet again, culminates in the ascendancy of Mitterand at the 1981 French general elections where the socialists swept surprisingly into power. this victory is compared with the Revolution of 1791 and the Paris Commune of 1871 in terms of its relevance to leftist politics in France. I found this book to be very detailed and some chapters were a bit tricky in terms of ideas and specialist vocabulary – but the book, read for a History of French Labour course at Cardiff University – has certainly enlightened me on certain aspects of French working class politics and I feel that the knowledge imparted has been vital.

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