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July-August 2003 (Volume 55, Number 3)

July-August 2003 (Volume 55, Number 3)

The articles on imperialism in this special issue were all written in honor of Harry Magdoff’s ninetieth birthday. Most of them grew out of papers presented at the “Imperialism Today” conference organized to celebrate Harry’s life and work, held in Burlington, Vermont on May 3, 2003. The conference was from our perspective an enormous success. Penetrating analyses of the current imperial moment were presented, challenging questions came from the floor, and there were good discussions and good cheer all around—despite the grim turn of world events that needed to be confronted. In the reception at the end of the day U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vermont), spoke of Harry’s achievement. As the conference participants gathered around he declared that… | more |

The New Age of Imperialism

Imperialism is meant to serve the needs of a ruling class much more than a nation. It has nothing to do with democracy. Perhaps for that reason it has often been characterized as a parasitic phenomenon-even by critics as astute as John Hobson in his 1902 classic, Imperialism: A Study. And from there it is unfortunately all too easy to slide into the crude notion that imperialist expansion is simply a product of powerful groups of individuals who have hijacked a nation’s foreign policy to serve their own narrow ends… | more |

U.S. Weakness and the Struggle for Hegemony

I am going to start with two things with which I think nearly all MR readers will probably agree. One, imperialism is an integral part of the capitalist world-economy. It is not a special phenomenon. It has always been there. It always will be there as long as we have a capitalist world-economy. Two, we are experiencing at the moment a particularly aggressive and egregious form of imperialism, which is now even ready to claim that it is being imperialist… | more |

The New Geopolitics

The war in Iraq has reconfigured the global geopolitical landscape in many ways, some of which may not be apparent for years or even decades to come. It has certainly altered the U.S. relationship with Europe and the Middle East. But its impact goes well beyond this. More than anything else, the war reveals that the new central pivot of world competition is the south-central area of Eurasia… | more |

The Two Wings of the Eagle

Peter Marcuse has written (Monthly Review, July-August 2000) that globalization “is a nonconcept in most usages: a simple catalogue of everything that seems different since, say, 1970, whether advances in information technology, widespread use of air freight, speculation in currencies, increased capital flows across borders, Disneyfication of culture, mass marketing, global warming, genetic engineering, multinational corporate power, new international division of labor, reduced power of nation-states, or post-Fordism.” The problem is more than the careless use of words, the inclusion of everything means the term means little or nothing. Most importantly, “the term fogs any effort to separate cause from effect, to analyze what is being done, by whom, to whom, for what and with what effect.” To answer these questions it is necessary to reframe the discussion. Neither the amorphous globalization discourse of everyday social science nor the previously dominant one of nation-state sovereignty are satisfactory to the task… | more |

The Grid of History: Cowboys and Indians

At the onset of the U.S. military invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd emotionally queried: “What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomacy when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?” … | more |

Can U.S. Workers Embrace Anti-Imperialism?

The period between September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq raised many questions about the psyche of the U.S. public in general and the U.S. working class in particular. The ability of the Bush Administration to utilize fear and patriotism to refocus attention away from pressing domestic issues has been astounding. The Republican Congressional victories in November 2002 were nearly unprecedented and most likely would not have happened had the focus on Iraq not emerged during the prior summer… | more |

Notes on the Antiwar Movement

The movement against the war in Iraq was the largest antiwar movement that has ever taken place. Even in the United States, where opposition to the war was not as large as in many other parts of the world, demonstrations against the war grew with astonishing rapidity. Before the war began demonstrations had reached sizes that, during the war in Vietnam, took years of organizing to mobilize. The antiwar movement, in the United States as elsewhere, was also in many respects quite broad. It included not only people on the left, antiglobalization activists and peace organizations, but also churches, other religious organizations, trade unions, and many other organizations not associated with the left. And it included very large numbers of people who came to demonstrations as individuals, rather than as members of organizations, and who had never before participated in a political protest… | more |

Construction of an Enemy

The aggressive measures instituted by the Bush administration against immigrants and visitors of Muslim faith, or from primarily Muslim Arab and South Asian countries, seem aimed less at their putative foreign targets than at the hearts and minds of our domestic population. Packaged as post-September 11 law enforcement, the new racial profiling has netted few if any prosecutions for terrorist acts, but has done a great deal to demonize Arabs, South Asians, and Muslims, to dehumanize them, and to construct them as the enemy of America in the twenty-first century. Once the state successfully constructs an enemy group, it can justify detentions without charge, military occupation, and other drastic means of waging war against that other, the enemy… | more |

Homeland Imperialism: Fear and Resistance

The creation and cultivation of fear is one of the pillars of empire both abroad and within the imperial “homeland.” And that fear is always accompanied by the threat of discipline, punishment, and violence. Every state uses violence to enforce its power against its enemies, but we must recognize that a major change has occurred. September 11, 2001 gave a green light for a full blown, and bipartisan, agenda of repression at home, as well as for the expanded imperial project abroad… | more |

The Parameters of Resistance

As imperialism spirals out of control, and as the manifestations of its wickedness penetrate every pore of human existence everywhere, the resistance against it also has emerged from every cell of social and political organization, taking many diverse forms that defy easy encapsulation. As the forms of protest and resistance have multiplied, the problem of choosing an appropriate political strategy has become that much more difficult. Is the resistance to be mounted only globally? Are we to fight only licentious finance and the greed of marauding transnational corporations and leave everything else to be settled after that global fight is won? Or are we to fight every little tyranny everywhere—the corruption of municipal officials, the arrogance of party bosses seeking to control local democracy, and the callousness of public hospital authorities? And are we to treat as enemies every political formation that provides succor and comfort to such petty tyrants and overweening bureaucrats? … | more |

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

June 2003 (Volume 55, Number 2)

The chief, indeed the only, justification that Washington offered for its invasion of Iraq during its build-up for war between September 2002 and March 2003,was the need to “disarm” an Iraqi regime that Washington contended had broken UN resolutions banning weapons of mass destruction in that country. The problem, though, was that there was no hard evidence that Iraq, which had effectively destroyed its weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s under UN supervision, had any such weapons—or if it did that they were functional and constituted a significant threat. Nevertheless, the Bush administration continued to insist (based on speculation, hearsay, and what turned out to be fabricated evidence) that Iraq had such banned weapons in significant quantities and was actually deploying them. In an extraordinary propaganda campaign in which the whole mainstream media took part, the U.S. population was led to believe that they were in imminent danger of attack from these phantom weapons and had no choice but to support a pre-emptive invasion of that country… | more |

The ‘Left-Wing’ Media?

If we learn nothing else from the war on Iraq and its subsequent occupation, it is that the U.S. ruling class has learned to make ideological warfare as important to its operations as military and economic warfare. A crucial component of this ideological war has been the campaign against “left-wing media bias,” with the objective of reducing or eliminating the prospect that mainstream U.S. journalism might be at all critical toward elite interests or the system set up to serve those interests. In 2001 and 2002, no less than three books purporting to demonstrate the media’s leftward tilt rested high atop the bestseller list. Such charges have already influenced media content, pushing journalists to be less critical of right-wing politics. The result has been to reinforce the corporate and rightist bias already built into the media system… | more |

Militarism and the Coming Wars

It is not for the first time in history that militarism weighs on the consciousness of the people as a nightmare. To go into detail would take far too long. However, here it should be enough to go back in history only as far as the nineteenth century when militarism, as a major instrument of policy making, came into its own, with the unfolding of modern imperialism on a global scale, in contrast to its earlier—much more limited—varieties. By the last third of the nineteenth century the British and French Empires were not the only prominent rulers of vast territories. The United States, too, made its heavy imprint by directly or indirectly taking over the former colonies of the Spanish Empire in Latin America, adding to them the bloody repression of a great liberation struggle in the Philippines and installing themselves as rulers in that area in a way which still persists in one form or another. Nor should we forget the calamities caused by “Iron Chancellor” Bismarck’s imperialist ambitions and their aggravated pursuit later on by his successors, resulting in the eruption of the First World War and its deeply antagonistic aftermath, bringing with it Hitler’s Nazi revanchism and thereby very clearly foreshadowing the Second World War itself… | more |

After Neoliberalism: Empire, Social Democracy, or Socialism?

What comes after neoliberalism? To answer that question we must ask a more fundamental question: What do neoliberalism and neoconservatism have in common with the antiglobalization and antiwar movements? The answer is that all ostensibly share a focus on redefining democracy in the contemporary world system. “Spreading democracy” is the rallying cry of both the Washington Consensus and the Bush Doctrine. The “Washington Consensus” is the claim that global neoliberalism and core finance capital’s economic control of the periphery and the entire world by means of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only realistic alternative to misery and disaster. The “Bush Doctrine” is the bald neoconservative justification of U.S. global military domination and preemptive war—as part of a renewed attempt to make the world safe for democracy. For the antiglobalization and antiwar movements these establishment doctrines, insofar as they profess to be “spreading democracy,” are nothing but window dressing for the global dictatorship of the U.S. and core corporate governing elites. While focusing their attack on the institutions that enforce this dictatorship, these movements also strive to create an alternative, a genuine participatory democracy… | more |

‘Let Fury Have the Hour': The Passionate Politics of Joe Strummer

Joe Strummer, the pioneering punk rock musician, former front man of the Clash, and political activist, died of a rare heart condition at his home in Somerset, Broomfield, England at the age of fifty on December 22, 2002. Barely twenty-five years earlier the Clash burst onto the London music scene to become one of the great rebel rock bands of all time-fusing a mélange of musical styles, with riotous live performances, and left-wing political activism, that inspires many to this day… | more |

Back to the Motherland: Cuba in Africa

Piero Gleijeses, Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959–1976 (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 576 pages, cloth $34.95, paper $24.95.

Angola is by most accounts a decimated, nearly hopeless land, ruined by more than three decades of war. But there was a moment in the mid-seventies when this former Portuguese colony shone as a beacon of hope for all Africa. It was here that the mythic power of white military supremacy was smashed by black troops from Angola and Cuba. And though the role of Cuban volunteers in this victory inspired Africans and left internationals everywhere, the details of the story have remained largely hidden and even in Cuba, uncelebrated… | more |

May 2003 (Volume 55, Number 1)

On May 3 MR will be hosting its “Imperialism Today” conference in Burlington, Vermont in honor of Harry Magdoff’s ninetieth birthday. Harry officially became an editor of Monthly Review thirty-four years ago this month in May 1969, when he joined Paul Sweezy as co-editor following the death of Leo Huberman in 1968. In the period since then he has edited 408 monthly issues of the magazine (counting the summer issues as double issues). MR would not be what it is today without Harry’s imprint on each and every one of these issues. During the last thirty-six of these we have shared this role with Harry. What this has driven home to us is Harry’s exceptional warmth as a human being, his brilliance as a political-economic analyst, his unlimited patience as a teacher and writer determined to communicate in plain terms, his openness to new radical vistas, and above all his personal integrity and courage, which, as with Marx, allows him to elude the traps of ideology and dispense with all fashions, acting according to the motto: “Go on your way, and let the people talk” (a variation on a line from Dante used by Marx at the end of the preface to the first edition of Capital)… | more |

Imperial America and War

On November 11, 2000, Richard Haass—a member of the National Security Council and special assistant to the president under the elder Bush, soon to be appointed director of policy planning in the state department of newly elected President George W. Bush—delivered a paper in Atlanta entitled “Imperial America.” For the United States to succeed at its objective of global preeminence, he declared, it would be necessary for Americans to “re-conceive their role from a traditional nation-state to an imperial power.” Haass eschewed the term “imperialist” in describing America’s role, preferring “imperial,” since the former connoted “exploitation, normally for commercial ends,” and “territorial control.” Nevertheless, the intent was perfectly clear: … | more |

Imperial Ambition: An Interview with Noam Chomsky

David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?… | more |

Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, which was declared in general terms last September. Last September, the National Security Strategy of the United States of America was issued. It presented a somewhat novel and unusually extreme doctrine on the use of force in the world. And it’s hard not to notice that the drumbeat for war in Iraq coincided with that. It also coincided with the onset of the congressional campaign. All these are tied together… | more |

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