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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Some thoughts on Robert Linhart’s “The Assembly Line” (L’etabli)

By on March 24, 2015 in immigration, Marxism, Trade Unions

1396714-gfA couple of weeks ago I tweeted out whether anyone knew good books on migrant struggles. Promptly, Andrew McGettigan suggested I read Robert Linhart’s “L’etabli” – after all, he had been Althusser’s student.

When googling Linhart’s book I came across various versions in French for less than a Euro however my days of Französisch Leistungskurs at the German Gymnasium lay ten years back and I really struggled reading Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois’s recollection of the Quebéc student strike a few months ago. Luckily, I found a used copy en anglais.

Linhart belonged to “The Establishment” group which rose to prominence in Paris during May 1968. By the time September came around and the wave of revolutionary struggle had submerged, Linhart made it his task to join the Citroen factory in Choisy joining as an unskilled worker. Despite the fact that he had no training whatsoever nor worked in a factory previously, he immediately was placed in a higher pay grade than the Black, Arab, Eastern European and women workers in the factory.

In the first chapter, he describes his very first day. Linhart realises that he just isn’t cut out for factory labour. He is moved from job to job without mastering any of them. Nonetheless, demand for labour is so high that he isn’t fired immediately. Yet Linhart is disillusioned as he had entered the factory to build a revolutionary cell and a strike but can not even muster the simplest work processes to gain the respect of his fellow  Algerian worker Moloud.

Even though the work has been translated into English the poetics shine through:

“Night. I can’t sleep. As soon as I close my eyes I see piles of 2CVs, a sinister procession of gray car bodies. I see again Sadok’s porn magazine among the sandwiches and the oil drums and the metal. Everything is ugly. And those 2CVs, that interminable string of 2CVs…The alarm clock goes off.”

During his first few months at the assembly line, Linhart comes to realise how the factory system depends on hierarchy and control. Hierarchy between bosses and workers, but also between workers themselves. The Portuguese migrants are clustered at one spot, the Turks at another one, the Eastern Europeans at a third. So-called in-house ‘translators’ – who eavesdrop on workers’ conversations and report back to the bosses –  ensure that old social networks and hierarchies remain in place on the shopfloor. Linhart writes: “Feudalism is fine thing for Citroen!”

He slowly realises that fear is the modus operandi at Citroen-Choisy. Workers make sure to not be seen with CGT leaflets. But underneath the fear runs a deep subterranean stream of nihilistic discontent resulting in random acts of sabotage, sick days, not returning from holidays, dressing up in fancy clothes after work. Linhart writes: “It’s here, in these minute signs of resistance that I observe every day, more than in political analysis, that I find real reasons for hope.”

In the third chapter, Linhart grapples with his difficulties organising these supposedly homogenous workers. He doesn’t feel anything like an agitator but has quickly become pacified, he believes. Interestingly, he realises that at closer look “’the working class’ disintegrates into a vast amount of individual situations among which I can’t find footing”. He adds: “These very words, “the working class”, don’t have the same immediate meaning to me as they had in the past.”

However things change as soon as “recuperation” is announced. This means that workers will have to work an extra 45 minutes for free – and they know it. Alongside other workers, Linhart organises a small informal committee. While previously he had been covert, he now tells trusted workers that he is part of “the Establishment” and here to help organise against the bosses. Linhart quickly comes to the conclusion that they have more to lose than him, and under no circumstances will he resign from his job if it gets messy but stick it out like everyone else. At the meeting the workers agree to stop the assembly line from February 17th onwards at 5pm every day until they’ve won.

Linhart makes a few observations which I find particularly helpful:  First of all, he speaks about the need to build up personal relationships to win the trust of his fellow workers. While it seems obvious, it requires the skill to listen and to relate to people, to understand where they are at, and where they want to go. Secondly, he talks about respecting their lives and their weekend habits.  Thirdly, a great trade unionist and organiser has precise information on literally everything happening on the shopfloor and on the lives of the workers and can translate this into a common language.

In order to win the support of everyone in the factory they produce multi-lingual leaflets ranging from Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese and every other language spoken in the factory. “It has more than a utilitarian function. It’s a mark of respect toward all the cultures represented in the factory. It’s a way to ask the different immigrant communities to take things in hand.”

And so the strike begins. Linhart comes to realise that the work isn’t half as difficult as holding a strike together. They encounter violence from the yellow union of the CFT and the immigrant workers are threatened to lose their hostel place and be sent back to their home countries rapidement. Luckily, the group of striking workers are backed by the official CGT union which gives them much needed legitimacy. However the numbers dwindle in the second week rendering the strike an individual choice and wholly ineffective. In the meanwhile, Linhart is moved on to spare parts workshop far away from the assembly line having promised himself not to leave Citroen. A few weeks later, the other leaders of the strike are forced to hand in their notices.

But the strike was not in vain, as the bosses no longer speed-up the assembly line or force extra hours on to the remaining workers. Linhart’s narrative style is gripping and insightful at the same time. The book is a treasure for anyone studying the rank and file rebellions of the late 1960s/early 1970s, the way that the bosses use racism to divide workers and the dehumanising effects of (factory) work on body and soul.

@mdbergfeld

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