This study examines the extent to which local state institutions can exercise political autonomy in an increasingly global capitalism. The book is critical of the argument that politics have become secondary to market forces, and instead suggests that the organization of the local state can provide important opportunities and resources for progressive social movement to define economic restructuring in more democratic ways. This argument is made through an examination of the radical local economic strategy developed by the Labour party-controlled metropolitan government of London, the Greater London Council, during the 1980s. With its emphasis on participatory planning and production for social need, the Labour GLC was an important experiment in economic democracy. In contrast to recent theories that see civil society as the major force for democratization, the case of the Labour GLC suggest that forces in civil society need the resources and coordination of state institutions if they are to construct a viable alternative to neoliberalism.
There is an alternative - London's economic crisis and the GLC strategy; relations of political representations - the Labour Left and the Labour Party; central-local state relations - the Labour Left and the Thatcher government; social relations of state production - the Labour Left and the GLC bureaucracy; the GLC, capital, and the limits of local autonomy.