About

Notes from Below is the publication of the Class Inquiry Group (CIG), an organisation of militants committed to socialism, by which we mean the self-emancipation of the working class from capitalism and the state. To this end we use the method of workers’ inquiry. We draw our methods and theory from the class composition tradition, which seeks to understand and change the world from the worker’s point of view. We want to ground revolutionary politics in the perspective of the working class, help circulate and develop struggles, and build workers’ confidence to take action by and for themselves.

We argue that an understanding of ‘class composition’, that is to say, how the classes within society are formed and operate, is an essential task for contemporary socialist militants if we are to develop strategies adequate to our moment without relying solely upon the past for guidance.

We divide our inquiries and our interventions over three interrelated categories of analysis.

These are:

Technical

We understand ‘technical composition’ to be the knowledge of how workers are organised, that is to say ‘technically arranged’ within any given work; how our time is managed or dictated, what we must produce and in what conditions, what talents or skills we must use and what managerial or technological mechanisms mediate our work. By extension ‘technical composition’ also explains where workers may sit in a larger ‘production cycle’ or ‘distribution circuit’. These arrangements are in part informed by the ‘social’ composition of workers and the political power we are able to exert over these conditions.

Social

We understand ‘social composition’ to be the knowledge of how workers are composed in society; where we live and in what conditions, what familial relationships we hold, what our cultures are like, what access to support (such as the welfare state or citizenship) we are afforded and how these factors impact upon our technical and political composition.

Political

We understand ‘political composition’ to be the knowledge of how workers are organised politically; what forms of political organisation we engage with, create or attempt to influence in order to exert demands drawing from our own knowledge of our technical and social compositions.

‘Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others - even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.’

As We See It’, The Solidarity Group.


Editors

Jamie Woodcock

Jamie Woodcock is a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, author of Working the Phones, and a member of the Class Inquiry Group. Twitter: @jamie_woodcock.

Seth Wheeler

Seth Wheeler is a PhD student at the University of Royal Holloway, his study is paid for by precarious labour, primarily in warehouses and retail; he also a member of the Class Inquiry Group.

Jessica Thorne

Jessica Thorne is a Masters research student in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and a retail worker; she is also a member of the Class Inquiry Group.

Callum Cant

Callum Cant is a PhD student at the University of West London and a member of the Class Inquiry Group.

Achille Marotta

Achille Marotta is a student active around rank-and-file unions and a member of the Class Inquiry Group.

Lydia Hughes

Lydia Hughes is a trade union organiser and a member of the Class Inquiry Group.


Contributors

Brendan Donegan

Brendan Donegan is an academic researcher who has focused on social inequality, community health, industrialisation and environmentalism in India. Brendan undertook the organising described in this article in 2012-13, while working as a lecturer in Anthropology at Goldsmiths.

Sølvi Goard

Sølvi Goard was the education officer at Goldsmiths Students’ Union at the time of writing, providing support, resources, and design skills to the campaign.

Wendy Liu

Wendy Liu is a software developer and (reformed) startup founder who built the website you’re on right now. She studies inequality at LSE and is an economics editor for New Socialist. You can find her on Twitter @dellsystem.

Ed Emery

Ed Emery was as an activist around the motor industry [Ford and FIAT], translator of the theoretical writings of the Italian revolutionary movement and was the editor of Red Notes. He is currently working on a major project of the musics of the Kurdish migrant communities in France and elsewhere; with a special interest in establishing Music Rooms in all places where migrants and refugees are aggregated -“The Music Room Project”. He is a member of the Class Inquiry Group.

Alberto Battaggia

Alberto Battaggia was a coordinator of the Italian workerist magazine Primo Maggio, which ran from 1973 to 1988.

Steve Wright

Steve Wright teaches at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He is the Author of ‘Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism‘ recently reissued (2017) by Pluto Press. In the anglophone world he is considered to be the leading historian of Operaismo.

Asad Haider

Asad Haider is an editor of Viewpoint and author of Mistaken Identity: Anti-Racism and the Struggle Against White Supremacy (Verso, Spring 2018).

Salar Mohandesi

Salar Mohandesi is a founding editor of Viewpoint and a postdoctoral fellow in History at Bowdoin College.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.