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Notes from the Editors, October 2007

» Notes from the Editors
Notes from the Editors, October 2007
» Notes from the Editors

It is almost unheard of for a whole issue of MR (other than occasionally one of our special July-August issues) to be devoted to a single contribution. The typical MR issue consists of a lot of short articles. We have no intention of changing that. Nevertheless, we are making a rare exception in the case of Edward S. Herman and David Peterson’s “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia,” which we regard as the definitive critique at this stage both of the U.S./NATO role in the exploitation and exacerbation of the Yugoslavian tragedy and of the “Western Liberal-Left Intellectual and Moral Collapse” that made this possible. So effective has been the media propaganda system at presenting the imperialist wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s as “humanitarian interventions” that this not only bolstered support for the invasions and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq (in defiance of international law), but is now being offered as a justification for further possible “humanitarian interventions” elsewhere, such as Iran, the Sudan (Darfur), Nigeria, and even Venezuela.

The widespread failure on the left to understand the dire implications of such “humanitarian wars” by the United States and the other leading imperial powers is firmly rooted in misconceptions about the Yugoslavian case. In the closing paragraph of her Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions (Monthly Review Press, 2002), Diana Johnstone warned—in words that should certainly give us pause today—that “should the tough unilateralist approach of the second Bush presidency cause serious disaffection among allies, U.S. leaders have the option of returning to the soft approach of ‘humanitarian war’ that proved so successful in silencing critics and rallying support [in Yugoslavia]. To keep that option open, the partners in crime must continue to impose their own mythical version of the 1999 NATO crusade.” The fundamental issue associated with such interventions has been raised by Jean Bricmont in his newly published Monthly Review Press book Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. But a deeper understanding of the traps laid for those who today support humanitarian wars to be carried out by the imperial powers is only possible through a close examination of the Yugoslavian case itself, presented as the model for such interventions: hence, the overriding importance of Herman and Peterson’s “The Dismantling of Yugoslavia.”

This summer a friend of ours, Hannah Holleman, used John Bellamy Foster’s Naked Imperialism (Monthly Review Press, 2006) in teaching a University of Oregon class on social inequality. In a letter to the author on the students’ reactions to the book she wrote: “The overwhelming sentiment is: ‘we wish someone would have taught us this a long time ago’ and, ‘things make much more sense now.’” The nature of the students’ response points to the central problem that Monthly Review Press and the left in general face in this country. Although our critical analysis is crucial to understanding the most pressing public issues, we face enormous problems—financial, promotional, distributional, and political—in getting our books, articles, and ideas into the hands of those who most need them, when they need them most. You can help by telling people about MR and Monthly Review Press (particularly about new works), setting up study groups to read and discuss articles and books, getting the books into your local bookstore or library— or by encouraging course adoptions. You can also do reviews of the books in print and Internet publications or on the pages of online book sellers. In the face of monopolistic media and distribution systems radicals have only one real option: grassroots promotion of ideas and materials. (An effort should also be made to get critical analyses to students at a younger age. In this respect we strongly recommend a new two-volume work, written for children: Howard Zinn, A Young People’s History of the United States, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff and published by Seven Stories.)

This summer Monthly Review Press published More Unequal: Aspects of Class in the United States, edited by Michael D. Yates (with contributions by Michael D. Yates, John Bellamy Foster, Vincent Navarro, William K. Tabb, Michael Perelman, Richard D. Vogel, David Roediger, Kristen Lavelle, Joe Feagin, Sabiyha Prince, Martha Gimenez, Stephanie Luce, Mark Brenner, Peter McLaren, Ramin Farahmandpur, Angela Jancius, and Michael Zweig). Many of the pieces have been expanded from articles in the special July-August 2006 Monthly Review, but there are also additional contributions and a new introduction. No other work currently available so clearly lays out the hidden costs of the class polarization of U.S. society. You can purchase this book and other Monthly Review Press books by calling 1-800-670-9499.

This month is the fortieth anniversary of the murder in Bolivia of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Four decades later Che’s legacy is greater than ever and is now giving fuel to the Bolivarian Revolution in Latin America. This month there will be material on Che on MRzine. In November we will be reprinting Eduardo Galeano’s 1968 MR article on Che, “Magic Death for a Magic Life.” MR readers seeking to learn more about Che’s ideas are encouraged to read Michael Löwy’s The Marxism of Che Guevara (originally published by Monthly Review Press in 1973, now available from Rowman & Littlefield.)

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