Alex Lichtenstein

“We feel that our strength is on the factory floor”: Dualism, shop-floor power, and labor law reform in late apartheid South Africa

Jay Naidoo speaking at the launch of Cosatu in Durban in 1985

This article explores the transformation of South African labor relations during the 1980s. An understandable desire to wield influence at the level of the national political economy eroded the tradition of workers’ control, shop floor democracy, and struggle unionism that black unions had forged during the 1970s and 1980s.

Rick Turner, Participatory Democracy and Workers’ Control

This article considers the contribution of radical South African philosopher Rick Turner to theories of ‘workers’ control’. Turner’s philosophical work, especially his book, The Eye of the Needle (1972), posited the workplace as a fundamental site of ‘participatory democracy’ and a space for the potential radical transformation of South African society. The confluence of Turner’s ideas about workers’ control, the students’ activism, and the collective action of the black working class gave South Africa’s labour movement a radically democratic, shop-floor orientation that deserves a revival in the new South Africa.

Rick Tuner and South Africa's Sixties

Rick Turner

This article examines the life and thought of South African radical philosopher Richard “Rick” Turner (1941–1978), a crucial figure in the 1973 anti-apartheid political conjuncture known as the “Durban Moment.” Though steeped in existentialist philosophy, Turner’s real contribution to New Left thought in South Africa came elsewhere. Turner’s receptivity to “Black Consciousness,” his vision of radical pedagogy, and his commitment to participatory democracy and “workers’ control” all made a deep imprint on Black working class mobilization and the birth of a democratic trade union movement in South Africa.

Putting labor’s house in order: the Transport Workers Union and labor anti-Communism in Miami during the 1940s

An essay by Alex Lichtenstein about how 'red-baiting' and anti-Communism effected a CIO union in Miami during the 1940s.

Racial conflict and racial solidarity in the Alabama coal strike of 1894: new evidence for the Gutman-Hill debate - Alex Lichtenstein

Pinkertons during the 1894 coal strike

Alex Lichtenstein looks at the issue of race in an Alabama coal strike.