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.

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.

Callum Cant

Callum Cant is a PhD student at the University of West London and a member of the Class Inquiry Group. @CallumCant1


Contributors

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.

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.

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.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

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.

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.

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.

Jeremy Large

Jeremy Large (@JeremyEBSLarge on Twitter) is a freelance writer working and living in Toronto. He’s written fiction, entertainment journalism, screenplays and much more. He was radicalized by Twitter.

Felix Holtwell

In real life, Felix is a tech journalist. After dark, however, he edits the Fully Automated Luxury Communism newsletter, a newsletter about the interactions between technology and the left. You can follow him on Twitter at @AutomatedFully.

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.

Scott Surette

Scott Surette is a software developer and a socialist organizer with Boston DSA. You can find him on Twitter at @scottsurette.

Marijam Didžgalvytė

Marijam is a writer on video games / technology and politics whose work has been published on GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku, Novara Media, Waypoint and many others.

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.

Richard Hames

@richardjhames is a composer and writer, whose work engages with the orthogonal rationality of computational systems.

Mike Cook

Mike Cook is an AI researcher studying creativity, generative software, and game design. He currently works at the University of Falmouth’s Metamakers Institute. Twitter: @mtrc

R.K. Upadhya

R.K. Upadhya is a control systems engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a member of the Tech Workers Coalition and the Industrial Workers of the World.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

Patrick Prax

Patrick Prax (@praxp) is an Assistant Professor of Game Design at Uppsala University where his work centers around the co-creation of digital games as participatory, alternative media. He is interested in how players can change the games they are playing to reflect an alternative perspective to a hegemonic capitalist worldview. You can see his TEDx Uppsala University talk about this topic here.

Patrick is also writing about problematic gaming and game addiction, and works in a research project at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology where he investigated the preservation and exhibition of digital games.

Ian Wright

Ian Wright worked for various startups in Silicon Valley for fifteen years. He writes an occasional blog at https://ianwrightsite.wordpress.com

Game Workers Unite

Game Workers Unite is an organization that connects pro-union activists, exploited workers, and allies in building a unionized game industry. Twitter: @gameworkers

Adam Barr

Adam (@Adambaa13) is a writer on work, housing and mental health. He has previously written for Freedom News and is currently looking for a job.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

Tech Workers Coalition

The Tech Workers Coalition (@techworkersco) is a coalition of workers, labor organizers, community organizers, and friends organizing to build worker power in the tech industry.

Marijam Didžgalvytė

Marijam is a writer on video games / technology and politics whose work has been published on GamesIndustry.biz, Kotaku, Novara Media, Waypoint and many others.