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December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

» Notes from the Editors
December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)
New Political Science, a journal associated with the Caucus for a New Political Science, has devoted its entire September 2004 number to “The Politics of Empire, Terror and Hegemony.” The quality of the contributions to this special issue, some of them by MR and MR Press authors, including David Gibbs, Sheila Collins, Edward Greer, and William Robinson, is remarkable. In particular, Greer’s essay on the use of torture by the United States in the “Global War on Terror” uncovers facts that no one can afford to ignore. The deep impression that this essay and the reporting on U.S. acts of torture by Mike Tanner, writing for the New York Review of Books (October 7, 2004), have had on our own thinking is evident in this month’s Review of the Month.

It is important to add that those recently prosecuted in connection with the tortures at Abu Ghraib represent only the superficial manifestations of a much wider and more sinister policy of torture. At Fort Benning, Georgia, demonstrations organized by the School of the Americas Watch have annually gathered thousands outside the gates of a military base to protest a U.S. Army school whose graduates have been responsible for torture on a large scale in Latin America. “Counter-insurgency” military training teams have been teaching interrogation torture techniques to local armies from the Philippines to Nepal. Domestically, techniques and practices implemented in “maxi-maxi” prisons in the United States amount to torture under governing international law. Nothing is more telling about the recently completed U.S. presidential election than that, despite Abu Ghraib and revelations about Guantánamo, torture was not an issue. As we go to press the demonstrations scheduled for November 19–21, 2004, at Fort Benning have yet to take place. The thousands who risk arrest outside the gates of that military base are a bright light in the darkness.

We would like to offer our congratulations to our friend and MR contributor Michael Lebowitz for receiving the 2004 Issac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize for his book Beyond ‘Capital’: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class (second edition, 2003). This prize is given annually to a book that is said to exemplify “the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition.” The first edition of Beyond ‘Capital’ (1992), argued that Marx’s critique of political economy was left fundamentally unfinished. Marx’s Capital, it was claimed, represented only one side of the economic dialectic, the political economy of capital without its opposite, the political economy of wage labor. In line with this thesis, Lebowitz proceeded to sketch out what was logically required for a political economy of the working class. The second edition of the book, which is extensively rewritten with new chapters, is a considerable advance on the first. Most important is a new chapter on “Wages” that clarifies aspects of Marx’s wage theory. All of this makes Beyond ‘Capital’ a valuable and thought-provoking work, well-deserving of the Deutscher prize.

Another leading contributor to Marxist thought and close friend of MR is István Mészáros, an earlier winner of the Deutscher prize for his book Marx’s Theory of Alienation (Merlin, 1970) and author of the magisterial critical treatise, Beyond Capital: Towards a Theory of Transition (Monthly Review Press, 1995). Mészáros’s latest book, Socialism or Barbarism (Monthly Review Press, 2001), is a powerful treatment of the accelerating world crisis engendered by the U.S. attempt to utilize its massive war machine to reestablish and extend its hegemony over the world capitalist order. This work is all the more impressive since it was written well before the events of September 11, 2001. Many others in the world besides ourselves, it seems, are convinced of the intellectual brilliance and historical significance of Socialism or Barbarism. Only a little more than two years after its first appearance it has been published in twelve languages, with editions in two additional languages already on their way!

We have recently been informed of attempts in South Africa to develop a unique library and research center, the Diop/Du Bois Institute, named after two champions of African liberation, Cheikh Anton Diop and W. E. B. Du Bois. The institute’s library, already seeded with a donation of 10,000 books, aims to house as complete a collection as possible of books, documents, and literature on Africa, the African Diaspora, and the global South. The goal is to make the institute a world center for research, seminars, teaching, and study—with the ultimate aim of promoting the rebirth of African culture and uniting African nations and peoples in their struggles against imperialism. For further information contact Bennie Bunsee, coordinator for the board of directors of the institute, at box 4956, Cape Town, South Africa; e-mail: be557 [at] mail.com; telephone/fax: 27 21 685 7807.

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