Wednesday November 26th, 2014, 5:02 am (EST)

2006

2006 issues

Remembering John Kenneth Galbraith

When my father, Paul Sweezy, died at the end of February 2004, John Kenneth Galbraith, or Ken, as he preferred to be called, in- vited my mother to gather her children and come talk. He told us that the New York Times and other newspapers had called to in- terview him for Paul ‘s obituary but he had declined. He felt bad about doing so, but he said, their questions focused on political differences and that is not what he wanted to say about Paul… | more |

June 2006 (Volume 58, Number 2)

June 2006 (Volume 58, Number 2)

In April 2000 Robert W. (Bob) McChesney and John Bellamy Foster joined Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy as coeditors of MR. In December 2002, while still coeditor of MR, Bob, working in close collaboration with journalist John Nichols and campaign finance reform advocate Josh Silver, launched Free Press, a nonpartisan media reform organization. From the start Free Press was unique in three ways: (1) it took on the entire gamut of media policy issues with the idea of building a unified grassroots coalition against the corporate-dominated media; (2) it sought to draw popular organizations into the movement for media reform, including organized labor, educators, feminists, civil rights organizations, and environmentalists (and was willing to ally with conservative groups committed to the principles of a free and open media system); and (3) it was dedicated to taking the offensive on media issues by sponsoring legislation in cooperation with members of Congress in an effort to change the status quo. By 2004 Bob’s growing responsibilities as founder, president, and board chairman of Free Press, in addition to his already arduous teaching, writing, and speaking commitments, compelled him to resign as MR coeditor, though he remains a director of the MR Foundation… | more |

A Warning to Africa: The New U.S. Imperial Grand Strategy

Imperialism is constant for capitalism. But it passes through various phases as the system evolves. At present the world is experiencing a new age of imperialism marked by a U.S. grand strategy of global domination. One indication of how things have changed is that the U.S. military is now truly global in its operations with permanent bases on every continent, including Africa, where a new scramble for control is taking place focused on oil… | more |

Three Moments of the French Revolt

In quick succession in May and October-November 2005 and in April 2006, French society experienced three moments of what is clearly a major revolt against neoliberalism. To understand these new class struggles in France and where they might lead it is necessary to view these three moments of revolt together as part of a single dialectical movement-full of contradictions and hidden potentials… | more |

Conditions of the Working Classes in China

This article is based primarily on a series of meetings with workers, peasants, organizers, and leftist activists that I participated in during the summer of 2004, together with Alex Day and another student of Chinese affairs. It is part of a longer paper that is being published as a special report by the Oakland Institute. The meetings took place mainly in and around Beijing, as well as in Jilin province in the northeast, and in the cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng in the central province of Henan. What we heard reveals in stark fashion the effects of the massive transformations that have occurred in the three decades following the death of Mao Zedong, with the dismantling of the revolutionary socialist policies carried out under his leadership, and a return to the “capitalist road,” leaving the working classes in an increasingly precarious position. A rapidly widening polarization-in a society that was among the most egalitarian-is occurring between extremes of wealth at the top and growing ranks of workers and peasants at the bottom whose conditions of life are daily worsening. Exemplifying this, the 2006 Fortune list of global billionaires includes seven in mainland China and one in Hong Kong. Though their holdings are small compared to those in the United States and elsewhere, they represent the emergence of a full-blown Chinese capitalism. Rampant corruption unites party and state authorities and enterprise managers with the new private entrepreneurs in a web of alliances that are enriching a burgeoning capitalist class, while the working classes are exploited in ways that have not been seen for over half a century… | more |

The Unanswered Questions

When Anne Braden, who died last March 6, aged 81, began covering criminal justice for her hometown paper, the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, in 1947, it did not take her long to conclude that the real story was not the trials she saw but the class- and race-based injustices perpetrated by the legal system itself. Very quickly she and her husband, Carl Braden, a labor reporter for the same paper, understood that the system of white supremacy underpinning the segregation and violent intimidation and repression of African Americans was at the heart of a system of social control that supported the rapacious capitalism of the post-Second World War South. White supremacy created the climate in which the steel, automobile, and textile industries exploited a low-wage work force in a union-free environment. Segregation kept sharecropping farm labor in much the same condition as it had been since the end of the Civil War… | more |

The New History of the Weather Underground

Dan Berger, Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity(San Francisco: AK Press, 2006), 450 pages, paperback, $20.00.

Despite its many detractors and small numbers, the Weather-man/Weather Underground Organization has emerged in the past ten years as a major topic in the growing history of the 1960s. Many of those who knew the group during its existence—personally or in name only—often wonder why this is so. After all, goes this train of thought, Weatherman/Weather Underground represented all that was wrong with the movement against the war in Vietnam and against racism. The group encouraged violence and represented the epitome of arrogance. What about the rest of us? … | more |

May 2006 (Volume 58, Number 1)

May 2006 (Volume 58, Number 1)

When MRzine was launched on Bastille Day, July 14, 2005, Eduardo Galeano greeted it with the words: “Monthly Review in conquest of the air? Wasn’t it a private kingdom of weapons, toxics, and lies? Great news for all of us, humble terrestrians.”… | more |

The Household Debt Bubble

It is an inescapable truth of the capitalist economy that the uneven, class-based distribution of income is a determining factor of consumption and investment. How much is spent on consumption goods depends on the income of the working class. Workers necessarily spend all or almost all of their income on consumption. Thus for households in the bottom 60 percent of the income distribution in the United States, average personal consumption expenditures equaled or exceeded average pre-tax income in 2003; while the fifth of the population just above them used up five-sixths of their pre-tax income (most of the rest no doubt taken up by taxes) on consumption.1 In contrast, those high up on the income pyramid-the capitalist class and their relatively well-to-do hangers-on-spend a much smaller percentage of their income on personal consumption. The overwhelming proportion of the income of capitalists (which at this level has to be extended to include unrealized capital gains) is devoted to investment… | more |

The End of Retirement

An esteemed colleague read three paragraphs of news clip on employer pensions before he realized it was from the satirical newspaper The Onion. The tip off was the interview with an eighty-seven-year-old machine shop worker struggling with widowhood, high stress, and early stage Alzheimer’s at General Electric. Early stage Alzheimer’s was the first clue, not the eighty-seven-years of age. Satire writers must have a holy grail of seconds before the earnest reader starts chuckling; my colleague’s delay might be a record. It takes three seconds to know “Cindy Sheehan loses second son in Katrina” is a lampoon. The reason it took so long to laugh at a news story that GE was adopting a new policy of “lifetime” jobs and a new forty-five-year vesting period for their pensions is that it is credible; the signs of the end of retirement are all around… | more |

Trouble, Trouble, Debt, and Bubble

The questions regarding U.S. macroeconomic policy these days come down to whether the country can keep borrowing. Can consumers keep spending by increasing their debt level? Can the federal government keep running a large budget deficit without serious problems developing? Can the U.S. current account deficit keep growing? Will foreigners keep buying government bonds to cover this growing debt? If the answer is no to such questions, we can expect serious trouble and not just for the United States but for the rest of the world, which has grown used to the United States as the consumer of last resort. The United States buys 50 percent more than it sells overseas, enough to sink any other economy. In another economy, such a deficit would lead to a severe devaluation of the currency, sharply inflating the price of imports and forcing the monetary authorities to push interest rates up considerably… | more |

The Neoliberal ‘Rebirth’ of Development Economics

velopment economics, as a branch of economics that attempts to show how the world’s poor economies can develop, had its origins in the 1940s and 1950s. One of its earliest ideas was that the economies of the less developed countries were mired in a cycle of poverty and needed a “big push” to develop. This push was seen as a large boost in investment, helped by the state’s infrastructural and social spending, as well as by private foreign capital spending and aid from the governments of the developed nations… | more |

Capitalism Is Rotten to the Core

Immanuel Ness, Immigrants, Unions, and the New U. S. Labor Market (Temple University Press, 2005), 230 pages, cloth $59.50, paper $21.95.
Howard Karger, Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy (Berrett~Koehler Publishing, 2005), 252 pages, cloth $24.95.

The widening and deepening of capitalism, which many economists misname globalization, has had traumatic impacts on workers. Sped up by what has been called neoliberalism (basically, the political program of modern global capital), the growing penetration of capitalist production and consumption relationships around the globe has literally pitched workers from pillar to post. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has forced hundreds of thousands of Mexican peasants and wage workers to abandon their home country and migrate to the United States. Similarly, government austerity and “free market” programs—curbing food and health subsidies to the poor, closing and selling state enterprises, suppression of worker and peasant protests, and the like—in countries like India and China have deprived many workers of what security they had attained and pushed peasants from their land into cities… | more |

April 2006 (Volume 57, Number 11)

April 2006 (Volume 57, Number 11)

As we write this in late February, threats of a U.S. military intervention in Iran are intensifying in response to Washington’s claims that Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons capabilities. The International Atomic Energy Agency has voted to take the issue of what it views as Iran’s noncompliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement to the United Nations Security Council in early March. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has repeatedly stated that a military strike against Iran by the United States is now “on the table.” Washington’s waving of its big stick coupled with its feeding of misinformation to a U.S. media system that has not hesitated to pass these distortions on to the general public have already had their effect. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll taken in January indicated that “57% of Americans favor military intervention if Iran’s Islamic government pursues a program that could enable it to build nuclear arms” (Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2006). A few days later President Bush declared in his State of the Union address that “the Iranian government is defying the world with its nuclear ambitions, and the nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons. America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats.”… | more |

Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality

Agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) have enhanced transnational capitalist power and profits at the cost of growing economic instability and deteriorating working and living conditions. Despite this reality, neoliberal claims that liberalization, deregulation, and privatization produce unrivaled benefits have been repeated so often that many working people accept them as unchallengeable truths. Thus, business and political leaders in the United States and other developed capitalist countries routinely defend their efforts to expand the WTO and secure new agreements like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) as necessary to ensure a brighter future for the world’s people, especially those living in poverty… | more |

The Hidden History of the Americas

Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 480 pages, hardcover $30.00.

Countless, almost perfectly round, forested islands dot the remote, watery plain of the Beni in eastern Bolivia. A millennium ago the islands were linked by causeways, parts of an intricate landscape management system tended by thousands of highly organized workers. These mounds do not have their origins in geo-morphological forces, but originate instead in human logic, in anthro-morphology. For even simple excavation reveals that they are built from broken pottery. Each pile, and there are hundreds, is larger than Monte Testaccio, a hill of broken pots southeast of classical Rome, serving as a garbage dump for the imperial city. Simply extending from the volume of ceramics piled on the Beni suggests that the plain was home to a highly structured society. Beginning three thousand years ago, an Arawak-speaking people created a civilization that, at its height, was populated by a million people walking the causeways wearing “long cotton tunics, [with] heavy ornaments dangling from their waists and necks” (12). The Beni was one of humankind’s greatest works of landscape artistry. Yet it was unknown until recently even by its contemporary inhabitants, the Siriono. For the builders of the mounds and the caretakers of the dikes disappeared just before the Spanish invaders arrived. Its discovery awaited Bill Deneven, a geography graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, who flew over the area in 1961 and was astonished to see great regularities in the landscape that could only be human in origin… | more |

Rebellion of a New Generation

Dan Berger, Chesa Boudin, and Kenyon Farrow, eds., with preface by Bernardine Dohrn, Letters from Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out (New York: Nation Books, 2005), 256 pages, paperback $14.95.

One frequently comes across handwringing articles in the mainstream media decrying the supposed apathy of my generation. Too often these are written by older liberals, nostalgic for their own bygone days of protest (and forgetful of the years of small-scale organizing that led to the social upheaval of those days). Sometimes they are written by young people, who believe themselves alone in their dissent. Ironically, these lamentations never seem to recognize what those of us who are involved in social movements today can see quite clearly: that there is a growing sense among many young people that something is deeply wrong with the society we live in—and more and more, that such knowledge comes with the desire to take a stand… | more |

March 2006 (Volume 57, Number 10)

March 2006 (Volume 57, Number 10)

On January 19–23 the African session of the Polycentric World Social Forum— held separately in 2006 in Africa, Asia, and the Americas—took place in Bamako, Mali. On January 18–19 on the eve of the World Social Forum in Mali a group of around eighty antiglobalization political activists and intellectuals, including Marxist economists and organizers, met to conduct sessions independent of the World Social Forum itself, under the auspices of the Third World Forum, the World Forum for Alternatives, and the Forum for Another Mali. Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum and author of the Review of the Month in this issue of MR was the leading organizer of the pre-WSF gathering, which he referred to as a “Peoples’ Bandung Conference” in honor of the recent fiftieth anniversary of the conference of nonaligned nations in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955… | more |

The Millennium Development Goals: A Critique from the South

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted by acclamation in September 2000 by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly called “United Nations Millennium Declaration.” This procedural innovation, called “consensus,” stands in stark contrast to UN tradition, which always required that texts of this sort be carefully prepared and discussed at great length in committees. This simply reflects a change in the international balance of power. The United States and its European and Japanese allies are now able to exert hegemony over a domesticated UN. In fact, Ted Gordon, well-known consultant for the CIA, drafted the millennium goals!… | more |

Why the United States Promotes India’s Great-Power Ambitions

In March 2005, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced Washington’s decision to “make India a global power.” No doubt U.S. arms manufacturers can now look forward to large contracts from India; but this course is dictated by broader strategic considerations… | more |

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