About

Notes from Below is a publication that is 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

Seth Wheeler

Seth Wheeler is a PhD student at the University of Royal Holloway; he was a founding member of the communist organisation Plan C and is a member of Notes From Below and the IWGB Union. He is currently developing a workers educational project for CAIWU and programming a trade union stream for 2018s ‘The World Transformed’ festival. Tweets in a personal capacity on @sethnotes.

Lydia Hughes

Lydia Hughes is a trade union organiser. @lydiakathleenh

Callum Cant

Callum Cant is currently writing Working for Deliveroo, forthcoming with Polity Press. He is a PhD student at the University of West London. @CallumCant1

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.

Achille Marotta

Achille Marotta is a student active around rank-and-file unions.


Contributors

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.

Alberto Battaggia

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

Alessandro Delfanti

Alessandro Delfanti teaches at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at the University of Toronto. He tweets at @adelfanti and publishes his writing at delfanti.org.

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).

Ben Tippet

Ben Tippet is a researcher on secular stagnation and QE. Cofounder of London Learning Cooperative. @bentippet

Bill Nugent

Bill Nugent has been a rep for UCATT and then Unite since 2013. He works as a Senior Liaison Officer for Manchester Working Limited and is now the workplace health and safety rep.

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.

Brian Garvey

Brian Garvey is from Armagh in the north of Ireland and now works as a Lecturer at University of Strathclyde, Scotland, in the Department of Work and Organisation. He was previously an organiser for the Independent Workers Union in Ireland and has been involved with a range of community and labour organisations in Ireland, Scotland and Brazil. He currently represents his branch of the University and Colleges Union.

Cailean Gallagher

Cailean Gallagher is a campaigns and communications officer with the STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress), a PhD student in eighteenth century political economy at St Andrews university, and co-author in 2016 of Roch Winds: a Treacherous Guide to the State of Scotland.

Carrie Benjamin

Carrie was a fractional representative for SOAS UCU from 2016-2018, and is a research assistant for the Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies. She is a member of FFFP. Her research looks at racism, gentrification and public space in France.

Chris Ealham

Chris Ealham is a historian and author of Anarchism and the City: Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Barcelona, 1898-1937 (2010) and Living Anarchism: Jose Peirats and the Spanish Anarcho-syndicalist Movement (2015)

Chris Fear

Chris Fear is the lead organiser for the IWW Couriers Network. You can contact the network at [email protected]

C MacDonald

C MacDonald is a hospitality worker, labour member, cartoonist and sign painter.

Daniel Randall

Daniel Randall is a railway worker and a rep for the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT). He writes in a personal capacity.

Declan

Declan is the lead organiser of Game Workers Unite UK

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.

Evelyn Ting

Evelyn Ting is a software engineer at Civis Analytics. She is also a member of a Chicago-wide CBA group organizing for workers rights and preservation of affordable housing in the city. In her free time, she practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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.

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.

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

Helen Mackreath

Helen Mackreath is a writer and researcher based in Istanbul.

Hettie O’Brien

Hettie O’Brien is a researcher at Rethinking Economics and writes about political economies and cities for Jacobin, CityLab, the London Review of Books and New Socialist. Before returning to South London she lived in Washington D.C. as a reporter covering monopolies and corporate capitalism.

Ian Allinson

Ian Allinson is a victimised union rep from Fujitsu Manchester and in 2017 was a rank-and-file candidate for Unite general secretary.

Ian Wright

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

Imogen Woods

Imogen Woods is a union organiser and housing activist living in Manchester.

James Halliday

James Halliday is a programmer with hundreds of open source modules and a member of bits.coop. Twitter: @substack

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.

Jessica Thorne

Jessica Thorne was a founding member of the Class Inquiry Group and helped to develop their notion of social composition. She is a Masters research student in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, addressing the histories of Spanish Anarchism and anti-francoist resistance movements in Europe. She tweets in a personal capacity @th0rnenotes and helps to run the Base Union Coordination twitter account @BaseUnion.

Jessica Thorne

Jessica Thorne was a founding member of the Class Inquiry Group and helped to develop their notion of social composition. She is a Masters research student in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, addressing the histories of Spanish Anarchism and anti-francoist resistance movements in Europe. She tweets in a personal capacity @th0rnenotes and helps to run the Base Union Coordination twitter account @BaseUnion.

Jim Benfield

Jim Benfield is a food-delivery courier and a health care assistant. He is also an organiser and member of the IWGB.

Joe Buckley

Joe Buckley is a PhD candidate in International Development at SOAS, researching changing working conditions and labour militancy in Vietnam’s garment and textile industry.

Joe Hayns

Joe Hayns is a student (UCU), and works in the arts industry (IWGB). He writes about the Maghreb, and trade unions. @JoeHayns

Joe Hayns

Joe Hayns is a student (UCU), and works in the arts industry (IWGB). He writes about the Maghreb, and trade unions. @JoeHayns

Joe Kearsey

Joe Kearsey is a hospitality worker and trade union activist

John Evans

John Evans is a philosopher, software developer and anarchist with incredible vision and poor eyesight.

Living Rent

Living Rent is a Scottish renters’ union, with branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Perth. @Living_Rent

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.

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.

Marvin Harvey

Marvin Harvey works in an Amazon fulfillment center and is a Geography PhD candidate. His work focuses on class composition in the technology industry, with an applied effort to foster working class political formations centered in strategic economic sectors.

Max O’Donnell Savage

Max O’Donnell Savage is a part time MA student with a history of working retail, currently employed by an academic library and a student support service department. He is active within ACORN Tenants Union and a member of the Labour Party.

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

Nazim Daradia

Nazim is currently a senior evaluator at a global human rights charity based in the UK. He has spent the past ten years working in the international development sector, working on a range of issues throughout the global south.

Nithya Natarajan

Nithya is a former UCU Executive member at SOAS, University of London, having held the position of Fractional staff representative from 2015-2017. She is also a member of the Fractionals for Fair Play campaign. Alongside this, Nithya is an early career researcher, working on agrarian change, debt bonded labour and ecology. Her research is focused on South India and Cambodia.

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.

Paul Salgado

Paul Salgado is a Union Organiser at United Voices of the World

Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart was until recently Professor of Sociology of Work and Employment at the Strathclyde University and coordinated the Marie Curie “ChangingEmployment” programme (2012-2016). He has published on the impact of sectarianism on Polish and Lithuanian migrant workers in the north of Ireland. He is a member of UNITE and the IWU, and a non-executive director of CAIRDE Teo, an Irish language community association in Armagh City. He is co-author of “We Sell Our Time No More”, and was editor of the British Sociological Association’s journal Work, Employment and Society (2001-4). He is on the editorial committee of Capital and Class.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Rebel Roo

This newspaper exists to help Deliveroo workers in the UK and internationally communicate and organise. Together we can build solidarity and fight for better wages and conditions.

Richard Hames

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

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.

Roberto Mozzachiodi

Roberto Mozzachiodi is a student, teacher, and organiser (UCU) at Goldsmiths College. He writes on postwar French Marxism and the border struggle in Calais. @ucu_rankfile

Robert Ovetz

Robert Ovetz is the author of the forthcoming book When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921 (Brill 2018) which examines the WWI wildcat strike wave, the Seattle General Strike and the West Virginia miners war among other struggles of the time period. More information here.

Rohan Kon

Rohan Kon is a Students’ Union campaigns staffer and member of community union ACORN. You can find her on twitter @rohankon

Sai Englert

Sai Englert is a teaching assistant at SOAS, a member of UCU and a socialist activist. He works on Neoliberalism, Settler Colonialism, labour and Zionism. Twitter: @PerrierCommuni1

Sai Englert

Sai Englert is a teaching assistant at SOAS, a member of UCU and a socialist activist. He works on Neoliberalism, Settler Colonialism, labour and Zionism. Twitter: @PerrierCommuni1

Sai Englert

Sai Englert is a teaching assistant at SOAS, a member of UCU and a socialist activist. He works on Neoliberalism, Settler Colonialism, labour and Zionism. Twitter: @PerrierCommuni1

Salar Mohandesi

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

Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins is a policy officer with the STUC, has been active as a lay union rep since 2010, and has been involved in initiating wider social movement campaigns such as the Radical Independence Campaign. Sarah is also a Masters student in labour law at Strathclyde university.

Scott Surette

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

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.

Stan Mills

Stan Mills is a Glasgow based bike courier, and a member of Couriers network Glasgow and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). When not risking his life to deliver your McNuggets, he’s plotting how to bring the platform economy under direct workers control.

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.

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.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

The Editors

The Editorial collective of Notes from Below.

Tommy McKearney

Tommy McKearney is a former member of the IRA, a political ex-prisoner and hunger striker. Remaining interested in contemporary politics he regularly contributes to media debates on Irish republican politics. He is the author of The Provisional IRA, from insurrection to parliament events and writes a regular column for the monthly Socialist Voice. An active trade unionist he is on the National Executive of the Independent Workers Union. He is involved in the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Congress which is building a united socialist movement in Ireland. Originally from Co. Tyrone, he lives in County Monaghan in the Irish Republic.