|Member of the Internet Link Exchange|
For readers who were expecting that I'd immediately launch into the World Wide Web and the intricacies of email, I can only urge patience. I'll be getting to the Internet in a moment. But I want to make one thing clear from the very beginning. This is one of those rare books about the labour movement, about its history and its future, and not one of the many books about the wonders of the Internet.
I have written this book because I believe that computer mediated communications (CMC) offer one way (and only one way) to help to solve some problems that the labour movement has faced for decades. We have to begin, therefore, by defining those problems, and putting them in their historical context.
More than a hundred years ago, an international labour movement was thriving. Workers in far-flung corners of the globe would read in their trade union newspapers about strikes half-way around the planet with interest. Sometimes, they would dig deep into their pockets to raise support for their brothers and sisters who were on strike. International trade union structures and their political counterpart, the International of labour and social democratic parties, were increasingly a force to be reckoned with in world affairs.
Today, that is no longer the case. Labour internationalism has declined dramatically. So has the power of the trade unions in nearly all countries. The Socialist International exists on paper only.
Ironically, trade union internationalism flourished when multinational capitalism was in its infancy. Today, with transnational corporations dominating the global economy, a vigorous international trade union movement capable of confronting corporate power has yet to arise. This means that the international labour movement cannot now effectively defend workers' basic interests, let alone lead the world forward to a new and more just society.