In 2000 I agreed to become coeditor of Monthly Review along with my dear friend John Bellamy Foster. I had been reading MR since 1972 when I was a teenager and had been educated, enlightened, and inspired by it, and the work of editors Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff. I had introduced John to the magazine soon after I discovered it. By the 1990s I had become a regular contributor to MR. When John and Harry asked me to join them as a coeditor I initially balked. I already had a very full schedule and there was no sign it would abate. Plus, I was a media historian and critic; not an economist. But John, in particular, insisted that my involvement was necessary to bring MR through a difficult transition editorially and financially. He promised me that he would do most of the work. I agreed with an understanding that I would have to revisit the situation in due time
Volume 56, Issue 02 (June)
An indication of just how bad things have become for the U.S. invaders and occupiers of Iraq is that comparisons with the Vietnam War are now commonplace in the U.S. media. In a desperate attempt to put a stop to this, President Bush intimated on April 13, in one of his rare press conferences, that the mere mention of the Vietnam analogy in relation to the present war was unpatriotic and constituted a betrayal of the troops. Yet the question remains and seems to haunt the U.S. occupation of Iraq: To what extent has Iraq become another “Vietnam” for American imperialism?
The situation in Iraq is going badly for the occupying U.S. forces. Despite a staged-for-television proclamation of victory aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean last year, President Bush has recently found his policies, from spurious reasons for waging war against Iraq, to the badly bungled early occupation, to politically-inspired deadlines for handing over “authority” to an as yet nonexistent Iraqi government, criticized more and more frequently
I want to address a very simple question: What keeps capitalism going? or, in the somewhat more technical language of Marxists, How does capitalism as a system reproduce itself?
The growing inequalities we are witnessing in the world today are having a very negative impact on the health and quality of life of its populations. It is true, as many conservatives and neoliberal authors continue to stress, that health indicators are improving in many parts of the world, including in many underdeveloped countries. But what these authors are not saying is that the rate of improvements in these indicators have slowed down in most countries that have experienced a growth of inequalities, and in many of them, including the United States, these indicators have even reversed. According to the last report of the National Center for Health and Vital Statistics, infant mortality in the United Staes has increased, reversing the decline that had occurred since 1953.1 The growth of inequalities is thus bad for people’s health. But why?
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire, published by Harvard University Press in 2000, took the intellectual world by storm. After the declared demise of “grand narratives” and projects of human emancipation, here came a book that told the grandest of all stories, the totalization of capital, and anticipated the most magnificent of all revolutionary outcomes, communism. Postmodern taboos were shattered, or so it seemed. The prophets of the multitude, Hardt and Negri, were duly acknowledged and celebrated in the liberal press. In the United Kingdom, the New Statesman ran an interview with Negri entitled “The left should love globalization.” Globalization, Negri stated, leads to real democratic “global citizenship.” In the United States, New York Times reviewer Emily Eakin hailed Empire as the “next big idea,” announcing the arrival of a badly-needed “master theory” to overcome the “deep pessimism,” “banality” (Stanley Aronowitz’s term), “crisis,” and “void” that have characterized the humanities in the last decade. Empire (both book and concept) was good news for everyone, ushering in a period that, while difficult to define, is, in Hardt’s words, “actually an enormous historical improvement over the international system and imperialism.”
“Puerto Rican Obituary” was first read in 1969 at a rally in support of the Young Lords Party, an anti-imperialist Latino youth group in New York. Like the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords were community activists, supporting demands for fair and affordable housing and decent health care, and they ran free breakfast programs for children. They linked their neighborhood militancy to a program that called for the end of U.S. imperial adventurism in Vietnam and elsewhere, third world liberation, an end to the oppression of the poor and people of color, and the building of a socialist society. The Young Lords were destroyed by U.S. government provocations in the mid 1970s, but Pedro Pietri continued on as a radical activist and poet—he saw no distinction between these roles. Most notably he helped to found and sustain the Nuyorican Poets Café, an acclaimed center for oppositional arts and literature