Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas: – membership development and engagement – organizing drives – industrial disputes I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

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Talks

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Academic Presentations

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Teaching

Taught Courses I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management Comparative Employment Relations (PGR) Work & Employment in Context (UGR) Employment Relations (UGR)    

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Book Reviews

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Publications

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Academic Writings

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Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

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Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not […]

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Public Sociology

2017 Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017)  2016   2015   2014 Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire  Bergfeld, Mark, […]

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Consulting

I have consulted trade unions both in Germany (ver.di, IG Metall) and Britain (Unison) in following areas:
– membership development and engagement
– organizing drives
– industrial disputes

I’ve also worked as an independent researcher for a Trades Union Congress (TUC) Project.

Talks

Academic Presentations

Teaching

Taught Courses

I have taught and lectured in following undergraduate and postgraduate courses at Queen Mary University of London, School of Business and Management

  • Comparative Employment Relations (PGR)
  • Work & Employment in Context (UGR)
  • Employment Relations (UGR)

 

 

Book Reviews

Publications

Academic Writings

Curriculum Vitae

CV 2017 2018 Teaching Position QM MB by Mark Bergfeld on Scribd

Public Engagements

Bergfeld, Mark, 20 Nov 2013, Paper Presenter at Generations of Protest: Marxism Matters?, De Montfort University, Title of Paper: The role of anarchists in Occupy

Bergfeld, Mark, 14 Nov 2013, Panelist at Essex Radical Conference, University of Essex, Social Movements and Activism Today

Bergfeld, Mark, 3 Nov 2012, Paper presenter at ‘Our universities are not supermarkets’ Conference at SOAS, London. Title of the Paper: Can students strike? Lessons from the Quebec student movement

Bergfeld, Mark, 7 Jul 2012, Paper presenter together with Hossam El-Hamalawy at Marxism Conference at UCL, London. Title of Paper: Revolution 2.0? Social movements and Social Media

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 Jun 2012, Speaker, ND-Haus, Was ist ziviler Ungehorsam?, Marx‘ is Muss-Kongress, organised by Marx21 (Die Linke)

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Jun 2012, Paper presenter at For a Public University! Conference at Nottingham University Title of Paper: Neoliberal universities, neoliberal students? – Rediscovering the subjectivity of students

Bergfeld, Mark, 23 May 2012, Crisis & Resistance in Europe: How can the 99% win?, Augustine United Church, Edinburgh

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Apr 2012, Discussant, with Sukant Chandan, What’s really behind Syria’s uprising, Shia Ithna’ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM)

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Dec 2011, Discussant with Andrej Hunko MdB, Nicole Gohlke MdB, Haris Triandafilidou SYRIZA, „Krise und Protest in Europa. Ein Erfahrungsaustausch”, Studierendenkonferenz der Fraktion DIE LINKE. im Bundestag, Berlin

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2011, Discussant with Vegard Velle from Norwegian TUC, After Breivik: The fight against fascism in Europe, Marxisme, Copenhagen, Denmark

Bergfeld, Mark, 6 Oct 2011, Panelist with Owen Jones, Laurie Penny, Alan Whitaker UCU, Education Against Austerity, London School of Economics Students’ Union, London

Bergfeld, Mark 1 Oct, 2011, Panelist with French, Greek and Spanish student activists, Coalition of Resistance Conference ‘Europe Against Austerity, Camden Centre, London

Bergfeld, Mark 22 Jun 2011, Panelist with Mark Serwotka, John McDonnell MP, Unite the Resistance Meeting, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2011, Panelist with Tony Kearns Vice-President CWU, Communication Workers Union Congress, Meeting ‘Stop the Cuts’, BIC Bournemouth

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 May 2011, Paper presenter at Euro-Mediterranean conference ‘Rivolta di una generazione’ at Political Science, Faculty at La Sapienza, Rome, Italy Title of paper: Yearning for autonomy?  – Global youth revolts in context

Bergfeld, Mark, 29 Apr 2011, Panelist with Len McLuskey, George Galloway, Rally to Defend the Right to Protest, Strathclyde University, Glasgow

Bergfeld, Mark, 12 Feb 2011, Panelist with Michael Chessum (NCAFC), A people’s convention to build resistance to cuts and austerity, Right to Work Campaign, Friends Meeting House, London

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, RMT Union Underground Engineering branch, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 Nov 2010, Main speaker,Where next after the national demo?, Education Activist Network, King’s College London.

Bergfeld, Mark, Nov 2010, Speaker, Solidarity with the Student movement, Financial Times, NUJ Chapel, London

Bergfeld, Mark, 31 Oct 2010, Panelist with John McDonnell MP: Time to Fight for Education, London Region UCU

Bergfeld, Mark, 15 May 2010, Panelist with Owen Holland (Sussex University), Stop the Cuts – Defend Jobs and Education, Steve Biko Building, University of Manchester

Bergfeld, Mark, 28 Oct 2008, Main Speaker: Another Education Is Possible Conference, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Public Sociology

2017

Willkommenskultur durch Arbeitsmarktintegration? Ansatzpunkte gewerkschaftlicher Arbeit mit Geflüchteten, labournet Germany & express – Zeitung für sozialistische Betriebs- und Gewerkschaftsarbeit (September 2017) 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

Bergfeld, Mark, 11 Jan 2014, Beyond the Hashtags? Gezi Park and the AKP’s Media Power, ROAR Magazine

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Regime Crisis in Turkey, Counterfire 

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, Tot pot canviar un dia d’any nou…, En Lluita (Catalan)

Bergfeld, Mark, Jan 2014, The world according to Merkel, Al-Jazeera English

2013

Bergfeld, Mark, Sep 2013, The Many Faces of Frau Merkel, Al-Jazeera English 

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, ¿Por qué Marx tenía razón, GRUNDmagazine #4

Bergfeld, Mark, July 2013, The Pop-Up Union at Sussex: Start with Solidarity, Socialist Review

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Brasilien: Die Bewegung ist ein Schlachtfeld, Neues Deutschland, 28/06/2013

Bergfeld, Mark, June 2013, A Brazilian Autumn? An Interview with Miguel Borba de Sa, Jacobin Magazine

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translation into Norwegian by Joakim Møllersen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Salon.com, Left Unity, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, How #OccupyGezi could transform society, New Statesman

–          Translated into Norwegian by Helle Håkonsen for Radikal Portal

–          Featured on Pluto Press

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Food Fights Against Austerity, Climate & Capitalism Journal,

–          Translated into German by Rosenrot for DieFreiheitsliebe.de

–          Translated into Norwegian by Hallgeir Opdal  for Radikal Portal and Ni Tyd (print only)

–          Translated into Spanish by José for GRUNDmagazine

–          Translated into Greek by George Venizelos (forthcoming)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Dan Swain: Marx’s Theory of Alienation, Socialist Project (Canada),

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Interview with Francisco Louҫa, leading member of Bloco and Economist, Monthly Review Zine

–          Translated into Italian by Giuseppe Volpe for Z Net Italia

–          Translated into Spanish by Viento Sur

–          Translated into French by Presse-Toi A Gauche

–          Featured in International Viewpoint IV461, Socialist Worker (US)

Bergfeld, Mark, 22 May 2013, Der Anfang einer Krise des Regimes, Neues Deutschland

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, New struggles, New unions? On the Pop-Up Union at Sussex University, Ceasefire Magazine,

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: I Prefer The Horses In My Lasagne To The Donkeys In The Government, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Portugal: Police Batons for Protesters and Rubber Bullets for the Kids of Bela Vista, Monthly Review Zine

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Victory for Quebec students! Lessons from a strike, Adbusters Online

Bergfeld, Mark, Dec 2012, Crisis and Resistance in Portugal, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12165

–          Featured on RC44 – Research Committee on Labour Movements, Socialist Project (Canada), Global Research (Canada), Left Unity, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Portugal: When ‘good students’ turn sour, Trade Union and Global Restructuring, source: http://andreasbieler.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/portugal-when-good-students-turn-sour.html (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Occupy: How Do You Build A Movement?, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=6448 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Germany: The Rise of The Pirate Party, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12051 (accessed 13/06/2013)

–          Translated into Dutch by Socialisme.nu

http://socialisme.nu/blog/nieuws/29967/hoe-rebels-is-de-duitse-piratenpartij/

 

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, From Quebec to London: Is Student Power on the Rise?, The Occupied Times London, source:  http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=5945 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, New Battles in Higher Education, The Occupied Times London, source: http://theoccupiedtimes.org/?p=3099 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Education Demolition, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11440 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, „The Birth of the Climate Justice Movement”, The Essex Graduate Journal of Sociology, Vol.10, source: http://www.essex.ac.uk/sociology/documents/pdf/graduate_journal/10-11/the_essex_graduate_journal_of_sociology_2010.pdf (accessed 13/06/2013)

 

 

Reviews

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Ed. Laura Khatib – We Are Many: Reflections on Movement Strategy & Graeber, David – The Democracy Project, Contention Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Book review: Luis Suarez-Villa-Technocapitalism: A Critical Perspective on Technological Innovation and Corporatism, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013 (forthcoming), Alice Mattoni- Media Practice and Protest Politics: How Precarious Workers Mobilise, Interface Journal

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Shelley Streebey – Radical Sensations: World Movements, Violence and Visual Culture, Left Eye On Books

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Richard Wolff – Democracy at Work: The Cure for Capitalism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12252 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2013, Book review: Campbell Jones – Can the Market Speak, Berlin Review of Books, source: http://berlinbooks.org/brb/2013/04/can-the-market-speak/ (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Sasha Lilley – Catastrophism, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12202 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book review: Eds. Tad Tietze & Elizabeth Humphreys – On Utoya, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12007 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2012, Book Review: Stefan Collini – What Are Universities For?, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11972 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book Review: Lucio Magri – The Tailor of Ulm: A Possible History of Communism in the Twentieth Century by Lucio Magri, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11847

Bergfeld, Mark, 2011, Book review: Lars T Lih – Lenin (Critical Lives series), Marx & Philosophy Review of Books, source: http://marxandphilosophy.org.uk/reviewofbooks/reviews/2012/602 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Film Review: No Impact Man, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11390 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Meszaros, Istvan – The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, International Socialism Journal 125, source: http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=628 (accessed 13/06/2013)

Bergfeld, Mark, 2010, Book Review: Derek Wall – The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement, Socialist Review, source: http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=11454 (accessed 13/06/2013)

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Food Fights Against Austerity

Food Fights Against Austerity

Man looking for food in a suzmpster

Man looking for food in a dumpster

This article was first published on Climate and Capitalism and republished by Socialist Worker (US). It was also translated into German for Die Freiheitsliebe and Norwegian for Radikal Portal 

In August 2012 two hundred members of the Andalusian fieldworker union SAT organised a ‘food expropriation’. They walked into the local Carrefour and Mercandor supermarkets, loaded their trolleys with rice, beans, potatoes, bread – and left without paying a single Cent.

According to Caritas Internationalis roughly 350,000 Andalusian families are mal-nourished. Children are reported to faint in classrooms. It’s no surprise this action struck a chord with millions of people across the Spanish state. Especially given the ‘food expropriation’ fed a total of 26 families across three municipalities and forced Carrefour to donate 12 trucks of food to local NGOs.

Disparate social struggles connect the democratisation and de-commodification of food and land to the fight against austerity in the Global North. Land occupations in Andalusia, fast food worker strikes in New York City, the Potato Movement in Thessaloniki and international calls to boycott ‘blood strawberries’ from Nea Manolada, Greece could strike at the heart of the system, rejuvenate workers’ movements and create counter-hegemonic alternatives to neoliberal austerity.

The German version of this article appeared on Freiheitsliebe - click on image

The German version of this article appeared on Freiheitsliebe – click on image

Tierra Y Libertad

Historically, European socialist and labour movements politically contested land distribution in the early 20th Century. The Bolsheviks raised the slogan ‘Peace, Land and Bread’ and the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci developed the concept of the ‘historic bloc’ calling on the PSI/PCI to build alliances with the peasantry of Southern Italy. Revolutions succeeded or failed insofar that revolutionary urban centres won sections of the peasantry to a viable socialist alternative. In more recent decades, organisations such as La Via Campesina or the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil organised land occupations of large estates. New struggles over land inside the Eurozone necessitate a re-examination on part of anti-capitalists.

Land property concentration in Andalusia is 10 percentage points higher than during the 2nd Republic (1931-1936). Unsurprisingly, workers and landless labourers have occupied bare land. The Somonte farm, for example, has been occupied for more than a year now. Where previously unemployment and hunger prevailed, less than 5 per cent of the town’s population are unemployed. This is small yet significant victory against austerity in a state with 34 per cent unemployment. SAT leader Sanchez Gordillo told Dan Hancox, author of Utopia and the Valley of Tears: “Our aim was not to create profit, but jobs, so we created a complementary industry to transform our agrarian products: peppers, artichokes, favas, broccoli, olive oil and olives. …. la tierra es de quien la trabaja” – the land is for those who work it.”

Land occupations have a long history in the Spanish state. In 1930s Spain, the Republican government started a programme of land re-distribution. This opened up the possibility for farming cooperatives and experiments of self-organisation. As the civil war of 1936-1939 spiralled into a popular uprising land occupations became one of the driving forces of the revolution. Readers will remember Ken Loach’s thoughtful engagement with the question of land collectivisation in his film Land and Freedom. More recently in 1991, the SAT scored an historic victory when it requisitioned (or expropriated) 1,200 hectares (2,964 acres) of land after twelve years of battle. The occupations of Finca de Turqueilles and Somonte continue that tradition in a new economic and political context.

One assumes that anti-capitalist projects like Somonte can’t exist amidst the vast sea of capitalism. That remains true. The difference is the development of an institutional crisis.

This threatens the unity of the Spanish state, the monarchy and political parties such as the PSOE which lost more than four million votes in the 2011 elections. Extra-parliamentary movements like the indignado@s, the Austurian miners’ strike, and hospital workers hasten this process. Somonte feeds people, provides them with jobs – and the social movements with a counter-hegemonic alternative. For once, it opens up the possibility for an offensive struggle at the darkest hour. The land occupations expose the structural inequities and antagonisms in society. The smear campaigns against Gordillo and heavy fines against the SAT make them more resolute. As Martin Luther King jr. said shortly before he was murdered in 1968: “Only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

click on image for Norwegian version of article

click on image for Norwegian version of article

I am a man … strugglin’ to put food on my plate

A strike of fast food workers in New York is the brightest star of the US labour movement.

400 New York Fast Food workers shut down 70 fast food outlets for better pay, conditions and union rights. They carried signs – “I am a man” or “I am a woman” – to evoke the sanitation workers’ strike which King supported before he was murdered. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. 45 years later on the same day churches, community groups and trade unions rallied behind more than 50 000 workers employed by the fast food industry across the city. Workers earn $11,000 on average. By no means, does this cover basic living expenses. Workers are reported to skip meals and walk several miles to work.

Chris Hayes on msnbc and Josh Eidelson have argued that this strike movement indicates a shift in the US labour movement. Furthermore, this group of workers show that one can strike in a low-wage service sector economy. The narrow confines of wages and conditions could be left behind very quickly. New urban struggles over the issues of food production and distribution have the power to strike a blow at the multi-billion industry.

Black and Latino communities have suffered at the hands of the fast food industry for decades. A 2004 study conducted in New Orleans disclosed that Black neighbourhoods have six times as many fast food outlets as White neighbourhoods. In New York the picture is much the same according to Naa Oyo A. Kwate, a researcher on healthy eating: “We found that [public elementary] schools with high proportions of White students have the lowest exposure [to fast food restaurants]. Only schools with low proportions of White students and high proportions of Black students have high exposure.”

While José Bové dismantled a McDonalds, the Black Bloc smashed up Starbucks and Food Not Bombs served vegan food at anti-capitalist protests it didn’t affect the industry’s racism in the slightest. Instead Morgan Spurlock provided a declining anti-capitalist movement with the pseudo-scientific documentary film Supersize Me. With a rise in urban struggles such as Occupy the Hood which takes direct action against home foreclosures the conditions are far more favourable to fast food workers than at the beginning of the century.

During the 2011 London riots it was widely reported that people started flipping burgers at McDonalds for themselves. In response to the moral panic some replied with a quote by the late British Marxist Tony Cliff: “The riots and looting have been fantastic, but they have not gone far enough. Because they have not been organised, the kids have attacked shops when they should have been attacking factories. We must teach them to take the bakery, not just the bread.” The New York fast food workers have taken a small step into that direction. In Greece, the Potato Movement is making big strides forward.

The darker the night, the brighter the star

Experiments of self-organisation start emerge from below in times of deep social crisis. The Potato Movement first set up by a university professor and his students at the University of Thessaloniki now has spread to more than 200 cities and towns across Greece. It seeks a fair deal for producers and consumers alike. The middlemen who inflate the prices are cut out. As a result EU agricultural policies are defied and market rates for potatoes fall. Prior to the weekly markets, expensive import potatoes from Egypt were sold and Greek producers exported their goods to the Balkans. Now the movement is solving a hunger crisis to an extent.

Food is at the centre of political contestation in Greece. The New York Times ran a story on starving children. One interviewed mother said “It’s simple. ….You get hungry, you get dizzy and you sleep it off.” As expected the fascist Golden Dawn thrive. They set up soup kitchens for Greeks-only. Their ‘altruism’ only extended so far when one of their sympathizers hospitalized 20 immigrant workers from Bangladesh with a shotgun. They demanded their wages after going unpaid for six months. Calls for a boycott of the blood strawberries from Nea Manolada now circulate internationally.

The Potato Movement stands in the tradition of workers’ self-organisation. Historically, there are parallels to Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast for Schoolchildren programme. It fed 10, 000 children on a daily basis at its peak in 1969 and forced the State of California to roll out similar programmes across the state. More recently, Occupy Oakland fed more than a thousand people a day in late 2011. The issues of food consumption and production have left the pages of middle-class lifestyle magazines and entered the realm of workers’ self-organisation. This process helps workers to become “fit to rule”.

All of these struggles point to a socialist alternative. Born out of necessity and based on the collective action of hundreds and thousands they have the power to change the world. As the crisis deepens, people are forced to find immediate solutions in the here and now. Austerity is throwing up multiple lines of fracture. New political actors will take centre stage depending on whether the anti-austerity movement lends them support. In Britain, the proposed abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board which regulates wages for agricultural wages marks a missed opportunity. The campaign fell on deaf ears. Ten thousands of agricultural workers and rural communities will impoverish as a consequence.

Fast food worker strikes in cities and land occupations in the countryside inspire millions across the Global North. They open up the possibilities for genuine movements of liberation tackling prescient issues of the day. On the day of the ‘food expropriation’ SAT leader Sanchez Gordillo tweeted: “We have to expropriate the expropriators who have spent centuries expropriating millions of human beings sunken in misery and hunger.”

That spirit connects disparate struggles in desperate times.

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