The section is divided along lines that reflect the changing focus of my professional writing over time. You will find writing on the following topics:
These stretch back to 1972, to work related to my doctoral research on white collar trade unionism. They fairly quickly re-focused on issues surrounding the politics of the British Labour Party, and collectively now represent a running commentary on that party’s trajectory from Old Labour to New. Interspersed amid the writings on Labour Party you will also find several more general studies of UK politics.
The writings on American politics and society have built up steadily over the years. The US experience of economic growth figured as a counter-point to UK decline in my 1994 study of the latter; the US was one of the major economies studied in Models of Capitalism published in 2000; and the American labor movement was systematically compared to that in the UK in two major research articles published in 2002 and 2003. But it was the decision to invade Iraq that triggered a more systematic analysis of our contemporary condition, beginning with an internal paper on the arguments for war (2003) and an analysis of US war aims in the co-written study of the UK’s involvement, Blairs’ War. Currently I am engaged in the writing of a series of position papers on major contemporary policy debates. Some are written and some are still to come.
The struggle to comprehend the character of initially British politics, and subsequently American politics, has involved coming to terms with things (and indeed with literatures) far removed from the history of political parties and the stories of governments in power. Wider social and economic forces necessarily constrain the political, which is why the intellectual disciplines of political sociology and political economy are now so important. What began for me with an exploration of UK economic decline has widened out into an extensive engagement with the literature in comparative political economy and the debate around models of capitalism.
A persistent theme in my writing down the years has been the attempt to illuminate issues of contemporary politics by studying them through the lens of radical theory, particularly through the lens of a Gramscian form of Marxism. The writings of Antonio Gramsci had a profound effect on me when I was first introduced to them by a wonderful professor of history and leading Gramsci scholar, Gwyn Williams, and that effect remains largely unchanged. I am a man of the Left. The Left needs to theorize what the Right only describes. The subtleties of a Gramscian understanding of the strengths and limits of Marxism has much to offer to those of us who want to understand the world, the better to change it.
Sparked initially by concerns over the war in Iraq, and more recently by the need for comprehensive immigration reform and a revamped economic policy, these opinion pieces have been published in venues as disparate as the UK’s Yorkshire Post, our own Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News and Record, and The Huffington Post.