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2000

July-August 2000 (Volume 52, Number 3)

Notes from the Editors

We would like to thank Ellen Meiksins Wood and Michael Yates for their help at different stages in the development of this special issue. Ellen proposed the idea of having such an issue this summer, initiated it, and started the ball rolling by sending invitations defining the issue to the bulk of the contributors included here. Michael worked mightly, editing manuscripts and helping bring the project to fruition. We owe a debt of gratitude to them both… | more…

Toward a New Internationalism

History, as if to warn us continuously against any tendency toward complacency, is full of ironies. As recently as a few months ago, the close of the twentieth century had come to be associated, in the prevailing view of the vested interests, with “endism”: the end of class struggle, the end of revolution, the end of imperialism, the end of dissent—even the end of history. The new century and new millennium were supposed to symbolize that all of this had been left behind and that we could look forward to a new era of infinite progress based on the New Economy of the information age, which would usher in a gentler, kinder, virtual capitalism. The main worry was a technical glitch known as Y2K. Would computers across the world malfunction on January 1, 2000? … | more…

Marx and Internationalism

It is not uncommon within social science today to acknowledge that Karl Marx was one of the first analysts of globalization. But what is usually forgotten, even by those who make this acknowledgment, is that Marx was also one of the first strategists of working-class internationalism, designed to respond to capitalist globalization. The two major elements governing such internationalism, in his analysis, were the critique of international exploitation and the development of a working-class movement that was both national and international in its organization. A scrutiny of Marx’s views at the time of the First International offers useful insights into the struggle to forge a new internationalism in our own day.… | more…

The Language of Globalization

The language of globalization deserves some explicit attention. To begin with, the word globalization itself is a nonconcept in most uses: a simple catalogue of everything that seems differ- ent since, say, 1970, whether advances in information technology, widespread use of air freight, speculation in currencies, in- creased capital flows across borders, Disneyfication of culture, mass marketing, global warming, genetic engineering, multinational corporate power, new international division of labor, international mobility of labor, reduced power of nation-states, postmodernism, or post-Fordism… | more…

“Workers of all Countries, Unite”

Will This Include the US Labor Movement?

Capitalism is a system of production and distribution driven by the ceaseless efforts by capitalists to accumulate capital, that is, to maximize both profits and the growth of capital. Accumulation, in turn, is made possible by the exploitation of wage laborers, persons without any direct access to society’s productive property. Workers are forced to sell their ability to work but when they do, they are owed nothing by their employers except a wage. That is, the employers have no social obligation to the workers; their relationship to them is impersonal in the extreme. It follows that, in the abstract, employers do not care anything about the workers’ “characteristics.” To them, black workers are interchangeable with whites, men with women, one nation’s workers with those of any other. Employers are, in a word, equal-opportunity exploiters. They will replace one worker with another, move their capital to take advantage of cheaper labor (whatever its characteristics), and pit one group of employees against another, whenever such actions will, in their view, make it easier for them to accumulate capital … | more…

June 2000 (Volume 52, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

On keeping the MR flag flying: Between us there are 177 years of life. The issue of continuity has plagued us for some time and we have from time to time explored and experimented with ways of maintaining the unique tradition of MR as an independent, nonsectarian advocate for and educator on socialism and Marxism. With that in mind, we have asked John B. Foster and Robert W. McChesney to assume the responsibility of being Acting Editors. We are pleased that they have agreed. In addition to their direct editorial responsibilities, John and Bob will participate in the development of a more permanent editorial board as well as a battery of contributing editors, not only academics but also labor and social movement activists. We expect to continue to guide the magazine as long as possible … | more…

The Political Economy of the Twentieth Century

The twentieth century came to a close in an atmosphere astonishingly reminiscent of that which had presided over its birth—the “belle époque” (and it was beautiful, at least for capital). The bourgeois choir of the European powers, the United States, and Japan (which I will call here “the triad” and which, by 1910, constituted a distinct group) were singing hymns to the glory of their definitive triumph. The working classes of the center were no longer the “dangerous classes” they had been during the nineteenth century and the other peoples of the world were called upon to accept the “civilizing mission” of the West… | more…

A Question of Place

On February 29, 2000, a first grader in the Buell Elementary School in Flint took a semi-automatic rifle to school and fatally shot his classmate, six-year-old Kayla Rolland. Since then, there have been countless stories about the tragedy in the media. Those I have read or heard have focused on the chaos in the boy’s family and/or guns in the home and community. All have avoided saying that Buell School is in Flint. Instead they have located it in “Mt. Morris Township, somewhere near Flint ”… | more…

Alienation in American Society

Marx’s ideas on alienation, which had been ignored for a long time, have become quite fashionable in recent years. Frequently they are even overemphasized at the expense of other concepts of Marx, in particular, his economic concepts. This trend is sometimes due to the attempt to make Marx respectable and to win new supporters for him, especially in intellectual circles which show some interest in socialism but are still reluctant to accept the Marxian analysis of our society. These people are often told: Don’t worry about the later Marx, who wrote the Critique of Political Economy and Capital, and who was so tactless as to develop the theory of exploitation… | more…

May 2000 (Volume 52, Number 1)

In this issue, we reprint Albert Einstein’s article “Why Socialism?,” from vol. 1, no. 1 of MR (May 1949). Normally this would require no comment on our part, as it has become something of an MR tradition to run this essay in our May issue. This year, however, there are two special circumstances that require some discussion. The first is Time magazine’s treatment of Einstein’s political views in its December 31, 1999, issue on “Albert Einstein: Person of the Century.” The second is the recent release, on the FBI’s web page, of Einstein’s FBI file to the general public … | more…

Working-Class Households and the Burden of Debt

It is an old axiom, common to both Marxian and Keynesian economics, that uneven, class-based distribution of income is a determining factor of consumption and investment. How much is spent for consumption goods depends on the income of the working class. Workers necessarily spend almost all of their income on consumption, with relatively little left over for savings or investment. Capitalists, on the other hand, spend only a small percent- age of their income for personal consumption. The overwhelming proportion of the income of capitalists and their corporations is devoted to investment … | more…

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