Archive for March, 2005

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Sell Books Online

Tuesday, March 29th, 2005

If you ever want to be a best-selling author, take my advice: don’t write books about and for trade unionists. Our movement with its millions of members does many things very well but one thing we do not do well is buy and read books that are written for us.
A couple of years ago, I was having a discussion with what might be called a “labor intellectual” at a conference in Chicago. He was bemoaning the fact that even the most intelligent and best-informed trade union leaders he knew simply did not read the books that they should be reading, if they read books at all.
The best-seller lists reflect this. Even though there are millions of union members, the books aimed at trade unionists are never listed there. If you’re a gardener, or a cook, or a movie-goer, the books targetted at you may sell in the tens of thousands. History books are sometimes big best sellers — but not books about labor history.


Health and Safety Newswire

Monday, March 14th, 2005

Most unions that have websites have sections that are devoted to health and safety issues. But frequently those are among the more static parts of a website. Once set up, they are rarely updated. To keep up with all the breaking developments in the field of health and safety was beyond the capacity of most union websites — until now.


Virtual worlds, real exploitation

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

This article has now been published in Swedish.
“A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” — Groucho Marx
Seriously, if you were born before 1985, you might have some problems understanding this. So let me start at the beginning.
There is a phenomenon called online gaming. Simply put, you combine computer games with the Internet, allowing you to interact with other people who are online at the same time. Many of these games are known as MMORPGs, which stands for massive(ly) multiplayer online role-playing games.
Some of the more popular MMORPGs include Ultima Online, EverQuest, City of Heroes, Dark Age of Camelot, World of Warcraft, and Runescape. They often have magical themes involving wizards and monsters.
Many of the games have hundreds of thousands of subscribed players who pay fees to use them. (Some of the games are free to play.) There are an estimated 27 million players of such games today, one third of them in South Korea.
So far, you must be thinking: what possible connection could this have to the trade union movement? Be patient — we’re getting to that.


Menshevism in Iraq – Response to Sacha Ismail

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Sacha Ismail’s response to my article on Menshevism confirms my belief that even in the very best Trotskyist organizations, members remain ill-informed about the very foundations of their politics.