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2005

2005 issues

December 2005 (Volume 57, Number 7)

December 2005 (Volume 57, Number 7)

At the end of October John Bellamy Foster and Martin Hart-Landsberg (coauthor with Paul Burkett of China and Socialismand author of Korea: Division, Reunification and U.S. Foreign Policy—both published by Monthly Review Press) traveled to Mexico City to participate as representatives of Monthly Review in the Fifth Colloquium of Latin American Political Economists. John spoke on “Imperial Capital: The U.S. Empire and Accumulation.” Martin presented a paper (cowritten with Paul Burkett) on “China and the Dynamics of Transnational Capital Accumulation.” Among the conference participants who met with John and Martin in a special meeting for Monthly Review were Guillermo Gigliani of Economistas de Izquierda (EDI) in Argentina (see “Argentina: Program for a Popular Economic Recovery” in the September 2004 issue of MR), Alejandro Valle of Mexico, the chief organizer of the Fifth Colloquium, and Leda Maria Paulani, President of the Sociedade Brasileira de Economia Política (SEP). Our hope is that this important meeting will lead to the establishment of a strong connection between MR and Latin American political economists confronting neoliberalism. The final outcome of the Fifth Colloquium was itself a landmark event: the founding of the long-planned Sociedad Latinoamerica de Economía Política y Pensamiento Crítico (Latin American Society of Political Economy and Critical Thought). The new organization will not be simply (or mainly) an academic and professional organization but will be actively dedicated to opposing neoliberalism and to supporting political and social movements for radical change in Latin America. We salute our Latin American political-economic comrades in this important struggle… | more |

Crossing Race and Nationality: The Racial Formation of Asian Americans, 1852-1965

The U.S. immigration reform of 1965 produced a tremendous influx of immigrants and refugees from Asia and Latin America that has dramatically altered U.S. race relations. Latinos now outnumber African Americans. It is clearer than ever that race relations in the United States are not limited to the central black/white axis. In fact this has always been true: Indian wars were central to the history of this country since its origins and race relations in the West have always centered on the interactions between whites and natives, Mexicans, and Asians. The “new thinking” about race relations as multipolar is overdue… | more |

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

Denise Bergman is author of Seeing Annie Sullivan (Cedar Hill Books, 2005), poems based on the early life of Helen Keller’s teacher, and the editor of an anthology of urban poetry, City River Voices (West End Press, 1992)… | more |

Disassembled Wonder

Denise Bergman is author of Seeing Annie Sullivan (Cedar Hill Books, 2005), poems based on the early life of Helen Keller’s teacher, and the editor of an anthology of urban poetry, City River Voices (West End Press, 1992)… | more |

Natural History and the Nature of History

Over 500 million years ago, Pikaia, a two-inch-long worm-like creature, swam in the Cambrian seas. It was not particularly common, nor in anyway would it have appeared remarkable to a hypothetical naturalist surveying the fauna of the time. Pikaia is the first known chordate, the phylum to which Homo sapiens and all other vertebrates belong. As the late Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, evolutionary theorist, and dialectical biologist, posited in one of his most renowned books, Wonderful Life (1989), an exceptional level of human arrogance is necessary to argue that Pikaia was superior to its many contemporaries who either went extinct or, through the vagaries of history, dwindled to obscurity. Yet, despite the absurdity of it, bourgeois thought is so deeply committed to portraying history as a march of progress leading inexorably to the present that many natural historians have long argued that evolution on earth unfolded in a predictable, progressive manner, with the emergence of humanity, or at least a conscious intelligent being, as its inevitable outcome. This view fits well with the perspective of the dominant classes of various historical ages, who typically believe the particular hierarchical social order that supports them is both natural and inevitable, the point toward which history had been striving. As Marxist scholars have long recognized, ruling-class ideology gets smuggled into the damnedest places, including interpretations of the natural world. This elite construction of nature, which often involves demarcating so-called inherent hierarchies, is often used to justify inequalities in the social world. It would be wise to call into question such depictions of the social and natural world and to seek an understanding of natural history free of this ideology… | more |

The Glory and the Gutting: Steeler Nation and the Humiliation of Pittsburgh

Last football season the Pittsburgh Steelers stunned fans with an unexpected series of victories. A Steeler Nation—composed of a generation of Pittsburgh’s workers who scattered across the United States as their jobs vanished in the last quarter of the twentieth century—filled stadiums in a dozen cities with their team’s colors, black and gold. The delirium peaked with the Steelers’ victory over the New York Jets, which seemed like an act of God. The improbable twice-missed field goals and overtime win continued the Steelers’ fourteen-game winning streak and their march toward the Super Bowl—until that road was cleanly blocked by the New England Patriots. Whatever deity oversees such matters, she must have a sense of equity or cosmic balance because the Steeler Nation in diaspora enjoyed its moment of glory just as the real, living, here-still-today city of Pittsburgh, near bankruptcy, suffered humiliation and dismemberment… | more |

Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe

When Zimbabwe attained its first independent government in 1980, led by President Robert Mugabe and liberation fighters of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), there were reasons to hope for a bright future. The new country inherited significant infrastructure from the prior Rhodesian settler regime, including relatively modern transportation and communications systems and an impressive set of import substitution industries. The economy had been built with extensive state support and planning (along with capital controls) to evade UN sanctions. By way of reconciliation, Mugabe sought good relations with local and regional capital, while establishing economic ties to China and East Bloc countries that had supported the liberation struggle. Roughly 100,000 white settlers remained in the country, operating the commanding heights of commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture, as well as domestic small businesses. The 1980s witnessed rapid growth at first, then droughts, with 5 percent GDP growth when rainy seasons were average or better. Thanks to the construction of thousands of new clinics and schools, indices of health and education showed marked improvement… | more |

Kathy Kelly’s Chispa

Kathy Kelly, Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison (Oakland & Petrolia, Calif.: Counterpunch & AK Press, 2005), 168 pages, paper $14.95.

For almost ten years Kathy Kelly has walked the wards of Iraq’s hospitals. She sits beside the beds of ailing children and tells them that she is sorry that her country has brought them such pain. She then gathers their family and apologizes to them as well. Her letters from Iraq, many published on the Internet during the late 1990s and into the 2000s, carried tales of these victims of the long U.S. war on Iraq. From her we got their names and fragments of their stories: we read of the tragic death of seven-month-old Zayna who was emaciated by nutritional marasmus, of Shehadah who might get heart surgery but no time in the hospital to recover, and of Miladh and Zaineb who had to fashion their imaginations around the daily bombardments that brought them “freedom.” From Kathy Kelly we learned about this long war, about its impact on the ordinary people of Iraq, about the embargo’s victims, the war’s victims, and the occupation’s victims. Her new book is a collection of her antiwar journalism (with a long excursus on her time in jail for her antiwar activism)… | more |

November 2005 (Volume 57, Number 6)

November 2005 (Volume 57, Number 6)

Speaking in New York to the United Nations in September Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez delivered a fiery speech sharply critical of U.S. imperialism and what he called a “frightening neoliberal globalization.” Chávez denounced the blatant manipulation of the United Nations to support U.S. geopolitical ambitions and military aggression. He condemned the U.S. government for allowing Christian evangelist Pat Robertson and others to call openly for his assassination in violation of international law… | more |

Nepal—An Overview: Introduction to Parvati

Nepal lies on the south side of a five-hundred-mile-long section, east to west, of the Himalayan mountain range. China (Tibet) is its northern neighbor, and on the east, south, and west Nepal is surrounded by India (Sikkim, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh). Nepal’s width north to south averages about one hundred miles—from the Himalayan ridge and the highest point on earth (Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet) down to a thin strip of the Gangetic plain (the Terai), where Nepal’s second largest city, Biratnagar, is less than 300 feet above sea level… | more |

People’s Power in Nepal

While communications about the military successes of the People’s War in Nepal have been regularly disseminated, little information has been made available at the international level about the achievements of people’s power in the country. This article aims to rectify this situation somewhat by highlighting the emergence of people’s power side-by-side with the progressive dissolution of the old monarchical state (ruling since 1769), with particular reference to achievements made in the Central Command area, which includes the main base area, Rolpa… | more |

The End of Habeas Corpus in Great Britain

The British Parliament adopted a new antiterrorist law, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, on March 11, 2005. By doing so, Parliament made it possible for the government to carry out the long-standing project of expanding the emergency provisions to which foreigners are subjected within the context of the war on terrorism to cover the whole population, including citizens. This change is important because it calls into question the notion of habeas corpus. The law attacks the formal separation of powers by giving to the secretary of state for home affairs judicial prerogatives. Further, it reduces the rights of the defense practically to nothing. It also establishes the primacy of suspicion over fact, since measures restricting liberties, potentially leading to house arrest, could be imposed on individuals not for what they have done, but according to what the home secretary thinks they could have done or could do. Thus, this law deliberately turns its back on the rule of law and establishes a new form of political regime… | more |

Rethinking ‘Capitalist Restoration’ in China

Over a quarter century after China ventured onto the market path, it is high time to take a hard look and ask some very tough questions. That is what Martin Hart-Landsberg and Paul Burkett did in “China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle” (Monthly Review, July–August 2004) and they concluded that “market reforms” have fundamentally subverted Chinese socialism. The considerable costs of economic liberalization, they argued, reflect the inherent antagonisms of the capitalist system that is in the midst of being imposed. “Market socialism” is at best a contradiction in terms, an unstable formation that only awaits progressive degeneration: “the Chinese government’s program of ‘market reforms,’ which was allegedly to reinvigorate socialism, has instead led the country down a slippery slope toward an increasingly capitalist, foreign-dominated development path.”… | more |

October 2005 (Volume 57, Number 5)

The much-anticipated split in the AFL-CIO, the labor federation in the United States, took place in Chicago, at the federation’s annual convention. Three unions—the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW)—left the federation, and more will likely follow. The dissident unions call themselves the Change to Win Coalition, and they have suggested that what they have done parallels the formation of the CIO in 1935, which resulted in the organization of the nation’s mass production industries. They will be holding their inaugural convention in late September… | more |

Empire and Multitude

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have chosen to call the current global system “Empire.”* Their choice of that term is intended to distinguish its essential constituent characteristics from those that define “imperialism.” Imperialism in this definition is reduced to its strictly political dimension, i.e., the extension of the formal power of a state beyond its own borders, thereby confusing imperialism with colonialism. Colonialism therefore no longer exists, neither does imperialism. This hollow proposition panders to the common American ideological discourse according to which the United States, in contrast to the European states, never aspired to form a colonial empire for its own benefit and thus could never have been “imperialist” (and thus is not today anymore than yesterday, as Bush reminds us). The historical materialist tradition proposes a very different analysis of the modern world, centered on identification of the requirements for the accumulation of capital, particularly of its dominant segments. Taken to the global level, this analysis thus makes it possible to discover the mechanisms that produce the polarization of wealth and power and construct the political economy of imperialism… | more |

Organizing Ecological Revolution

My subject—organizing ecological revolution—has as its initial premise that we are in the midst of a global environmental crisis of such enormity that the web of life of the entire planet is threatened and with it the future of civilization… | more |

Immokalee Workers Take Down Taco Bell

On March 8, 2005, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in Immokalee, Florida won a significant victory. In a precedent-setting move, fast-food giant Yum! Brands Inc., the world’s largest restaurant corporation, agreed to all the farm workers’ demands (and more!) if the CIW would end the four-year-old boycott of its subsidiary Taco Bell. (Yum!, a spin off from Pepsi, includes Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, A&W, Long John Silver’s, and Pizza Hut franchises.) As United Farm Workers (UFW) president Arturo Rodriguez commented at the victory celebration, “It is the most significant victory since the successful grape boycott led by the UFW in the 1960s in the fields of California.” … | more |

Privatization at Gunpoint

The transfer of assets from peripheral states to international financial oligarchies is one of the defining tenets of the neoliberal counter-revolution. As a general rule, this latest form of neocolonial transfer of surplus to the industrialized core has proceeded relatively successfully in many peripheral states, with many Latin American states standing out as significant exceptions. In Pakistan, where the ruling state oligarchy has historically been the equivalent of a comprador bourgeoisie, this process has accelerated since it was initiated in the late 1980s… | more |

Marx’s Vision of Sustainable Human Development

In developed capitalist countries, debates over the economics of socialism have mostly concentrated on questions of information, incentives, and efficiency in resource allocation. This focus on “socialist calculation” reflects the mainly academic context of these discussions. By contrast, for anti-capitalist movements and post-revolutionary regimes on the capitalist periphery, socialism as a form of human development has been a prime concern. A notable example is Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s work on “Man and Socialism in Cuba,” which rebutted the argument that “the period of building socialism…is characterized by the extinction of the individual for the sake of the state.” For Che, socialist revolution is a process in which “large numbers of people are developing themselves,” and “the material possibilities of the integral development of each and every one of its members make the task ever more fruitful.” … | more |

September 2005 (Volume 57, Number 4)

September 2005 (Volume 57, Number 4)

More than a year after the supposed “transfer of sovereignty” the war of aggression that the United States is waging in Iraq shows no sign of abating. Washington’s plan is to continue to occupy Iraq by force until it is brought securely within the American Empire. After that U.S. troop presence in the major urban centers can be sharply reduced and its remaining forces relocated to a few strategic military bases, with the new Iraqi government security forces stepping in to replace American troops in most parts of the country… | more |

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