In an exclusive piece for Pluto, Laurence Cox and Alf Nilsen discuss the relevance and central message of their new book – We Make Our Own History.
April 2014: In Dongguan in the Pearl River delta, tens of thousands of Chinese workers walk out of factories owned by a Taiwanese company that produces shoes for global brand leaders like Nike and Reebok in protest over the corrupt handling of their pensions. Following in the wake of the strikes at a Honda-owned factory in Foshan – also in the Pearl River delta – in 2010, the April walkouts in Dongguan are expressive of a new wave of labour militancy in China, which increasingly targets the transnational corporations that have been so central to the export-driven growth strategy of the Chinese authorities, and which have been successful in winning wage gains for the country’s working classes.
May 2014: In Spain’s elections for the European Parliament, a new political party – Podemos – wins 5 seats and 7.9 per cent of the vote (approximately 1.2 million votes). The unexpected levels of support for the party are seen as a continued expression of the widespread anger against unemployment and austerity policies that was initially voiced by the Indignados. “We want to build a political majority”, argued the party leader Pablo Iglesias as he described the politics of Podemos, ”that reflects the social majority of Spain.” In aspiring to do this, Podemos is developing and deepening the project of mass-based, participatory democracy that started to take shape in public squares around the country during the 15-M protests of 2011 and 2012.