In the 1920s Andrew Mellon, who served as secretary of the treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (it was sometimes said that they served under him), introduced a series of gargantuan tax cuts culminating in what was known as the Mellon Plan. This consisted of a huge cut in the income tax rates of the rich along with reductions in other taxes paid by the wealthy. High income tax rates, Mellon claimed, tend to destroy individual initiative and enterprise and seriously impede the development of productive enterprise. When Mellon’s foes, such as the great Progressive Senator Robert La Follette, declared that Mellon was trying to let wealth escape its fair share of taxation, he sought to turn the tables on them by charging that they were engaging in class warfare. The man who seeks to perpetuate prejudice and class hatred, the treasury secretary stated, is doing America an ill service. In attempting to promote or defeat legislation by arraying one class of taxpayers against another, he shows a complete misconception of the principles of equality on which the country was founded
On December 19, 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the 12,000 page document that Iraq delivered to the United Nations on December 7, listing its secret weapons programs together with any dual use agents that could be used in proscribed weapons systems, contained significant omissions. It thus constituted, in the view of the Bush administration, a further material breach in Iraq’s obligations under current U.N. resolutions. All of this was meant to add to Washington’s case for waging a war on Iraq, ostensibly in order to disarm it
“The American health care system is confronting a crisis.” This was the not very surprising conclusion of a study by a National Academy of Science panel on the U.S. health care system, carried out at the request of the administration and released in November 2002 www.nap.edu/books/0309087074/html. The report, entitled Fostering Rapid Advances in Health Care, describes conditions that are little short of horrendous. Health care costs are increasing at an annual rate in excess of 12 percent. The insured are receiving far fewer benefits while paying much more in out-of-pocket expenses. States in fiscal trouble are cutting benefits for Medicaid and other health programs. The number of uninsured has climbed to 41.2 million or 14.5 percent of the U.S. population. This means that one in seven individuals in the United States lacks any health care coverage whatsoever, and many more have inadequate coverage. A quarter of U.S. children aged to nineteen to thirty-five months are deficient in immunizations. Tens of thousands of individuals die every year from medical errors and many more than that from injuries caused by the health system
Among the major countries of the world, the United States has the highest per capita income, and it is often assumed therefore that the ordinary American is materially better off than his or her counterpart anywhere else in the world. In fact, this proposition is practically taken for granted within U.S. national culture, since it is constantly being drummed into our ears by the media and educational institutions. Yet, as a logical proposition it is simply false. This was recently pointed out by Paul Krugman, a leading mainstream economist and columnist for the New York Times, in an article (For Richer, New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002) dedicated to explaining exactly why this national myth is mistaken. Life expectancy in the U.S., Krugman observes, is well below that in Canada, Japan and every major nation in Western Europe. On the average, we can expect lives a bit shorter than those of Greeks, a bit longer than those of Portuguese. Male life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than it is in Costa Rica
Officially Washington’s current policy toward Iraq is to bring about a regime change—either through a military coup, or by means of a U.S. invasion, justified as a preemptive attack against a rogue state bent on developing and deploying weapons of mass destruction.* But a U.S. invasion, should it take place, would not confine its objectives to mere regime change in Baghdad. The larger goal would be nothing less than the global projection of U.S. power through assertion of American dominance over the entire Middle East. What the world is now facing therefore is the prospect of a major new development in the history of imperialism
On September 10, of this year, an interview entitled, Nelson Mandela: The U.S.A. is a Threat to World Peace, appeared as a Newsweek web exclusive, http://www.msnbc.com/news/806174.asp. In this interview, Mandela reviewed some of the history of U.S. interventions in the Middle East—including U.S. support of the Shah of Iran, which led to the Islamic revolution in 1979, and U.S. arming and financing of the mujahedin in Afghanistan, which led to the rise of the Taliban. He went on to say, If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms. Later, on September 16, when Washington condemned as mere duplicity Iraq’s offer to allow unconditional inspection of its weapons facilities by U.N. inspectors, and again threatened war, Mandela asked: What right has Bush to say that Iraq’s offer is not genuine? We must condemn that very strongly. No country, however strong, is entitled to comment adversely in the way the U.S. has done. They think they’re the only power in the world. They’re not and they’re following a dangerous policy. One country wants to bully the world (Guardian, September 19, 2002)
In late August and early September a number of MR and Socialist Register authors (including Patrick Bond, John Bellamy Foster, Gerard Greenfield, Naomi Klein, and John Saul) participated in forums in Johannesburg related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. On August 24, they joined in a march led by antiprivatization activists from the black townships (in particular by Trevor Ngwane and Virginia Setshedi—whose role in the struggle in South Africa is discussed in Ashwin Desai’s new MR Press book, We Are the Poors). The march was organized to protest the arrest and jailing of political activists. The marchers lit candles and proceeded peacefully but were met within minutes by the South African police who exploded percussion grenades, injuring three of the protestors. The harsh and unprovoked actions of the police on this occasion pointed to the increasingly antipopular character of the South African state, which is imposing neoliberal economic policy on the society. It also underscored the repressive measures now commonly utilized at world summits in general. We will address the Johannesburg summit and the economic and environmental problems of southern Africa in an upcoming issue of MR
For more than three decades, visitors to Monthly Review’s Manhattan offices would be greeted with the slightly raspy, always cheerful Hi ya that Beadie Magdoff offered to cabinet ministers, students, revolutionaries, workers, political exiles, and internationally renowned scholars. They came to work with the editors, to join the lunchtime discussions, and, of course, to leave with the latest Monthly Review Press books that Beadie made sure they bought. Beadie was an instrumental part of the daily life of MR, indefatigable not only in the small tasks she took on, but in her insistence on an unyielding passion for social justice as well as a clear focus on the case for socialism
The growth and eventual bursting of financial bubbles is an inherent feature of capitalist accumulation, as can be seen in the long history of such crises from the South Sea Bubble of the early eighteenth century to the financial blowouts of the present day. In the first half of the summer a dramatic bubble-bursting decline in the U.S. and European stock exchanges wiped out the stock market gains of the previous five years—a period characterized by manic speculation
Fifty-four years ago when MR was being planned, one of the questions that the editors, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, had to decide was whether to have a section at the back of the magazine on literature and the arts, what in publisher’s parlance is called the back of the book. The MR editors decided not to do so, mainly for practical reasons. They did not feel that they had the necessary knowledge and training to do a good job editorially with such cultural material, and they felt sure that in the circumstances that the U.S. left then found itself they could not count on the support of enough serious socialist critics to sustain an arts section meeting the same standards as MR as a whole. In 1963, the first of these conditions changed temporarily, when Frances Kelly, who had been Business Manager of the New Left Review in London and whose special field of competence was the arts, came to work with the MR editors as Assistant and then Associate Editor. Under Frances Kelly’s editorship, MR published a cultural supplement called Review 1 as an experiment in 1965
In the May issue of MR, we published an article by James Petras, written in March, entitled The U.S. Offensive in Latin America. The article raised the issue of an impending military coup in Venezuela, then being actively promoted by Washington, aimed at replacing the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez with what the Bush administration had already been publicly calling a transitional government (or, as Petras termed it, a transitional civic-military junta). Washington, Petras wrote, is implementing a civil-military approach to overthrow President Chávez in Venezuela….U.S. strategy is multiphased and combines media, civic, and economic attacks with efforts to provoke fissures in the military, all aimed at encouraging a military coup. The object of the coup, from Washington’s standpoint, was threefold: to regain control of Venezuela’s oil industry which accounts for 15 percent of U.S. oil imports, to eliminate the indirect support that Venezuela has been giving to guerrillas in Colombia and to insurgent forces in Ecuador, and to put an end to Chávez’s attempt to break away from the imperialistic network—Venezuela’s step toward independence
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Monthly Review Press. The idea of starting a book publishing arm of MR had its origin in an accidental meeting in Central Park in 1951 between noted journalist I.F. Stone, then a reporter and columnist of the leftist New York Daily Compass, and MR editors Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy. Stone told Huberman and Sweezy that he had written a book disputing the official history of the Korean War but had not been able to find a publisher in that era of fervent McCarthyism and war hysteria. They asked to see the manuscript, and on its strength decided to establish Monthly Review Press. The Hidden History of the Korean War, the very first book published by Monthly Review Press, was released in May 1952
As this special issue on the economy goes to the printer, the business press is full of the news that a mild recovery from the recession that began in March 2001 may already be in the works, as was suggested by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in testimony to Congress in late February. Whether this should prove to be the case or not, it remains true that the long-term, deepening problems of the U.S. economy are for the most part ignored in such accounts, in favor of a short-run focus on an expected cyclical upswing.
Annette T. Rubinstein—educator, author, activist—celebrated her ninety-fifth birthday three days early on April 9, at the Brecht Forum‘s new headquarters. At a gathering of more than two hundred of her devoted family, friends, colleagues, comrades, speakers regaled the audience with personal stories and memories of Annette’s fabulous life. John Mage, representing Monthly Review, suggested that she must have had previous lives because “the breadth of vision, the historical understanding, and the contents of the memory could not have been acquired in one lifetime—even hers.” Harry Magdoff, via a taped recording, reminded the audience that “Annette in personality, in her life of creativity, activity, and humanism, illustrates the ways of Socialist women and men.” He concluded by saying “I love you”—in Yiddish.
In January, with no public discussion and little fanfare, Washington began the first major extension of its war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan by sending U.S. troops into the Philippines. The contingent of nearly 700 troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, was sent to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which consists of a number of islands and one major city, and is populated chiefly by a few million Moros (Muslim Filipinos). The mission of the U.S. forces has been to assess the military situation, provide military advice, and train the 7000 Philippine soldiers currently pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo