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The Editors

March 2005 (Volume 56, Number 10)

March 2005 (Volume 56, Number 10)

In the face of continuing right-wing attacks on Social Security since the Reagan era in the 1980s, MR has responded repeatedly by pointing to the phony nature of the Social Security crisis. Two articles of note are Jacob Morris, “Social Security: The Phony Crisis” in the February 1983 issue of MR and “Social Security, the Stock Market, and the Elections” in the October 2000 issue. Those wanting a thorough historical understanding of this struggle are encouraged to look back at these articles. Given the nature of the right-wing onslaught, which all along has pretended that the Social Security trust fund was threatened with “bankruptcy,” MR’s chief thrust has been to dispel such misconceptions. Our primary purpose has been to counter what has been one of the major propaganda campaigns of our time. If Social Security is in peril of “collapse” it is only because of current plans to privatize it. However, there is a great danger in this controversy of getting drawn into endless debates on the financing of the Social Security system in the United States, while losing sight of the more fundamental issues… | more |

February 2005 (Volume 56, Number 9)

February 2005 (Volume 56, Number 9)

The battle over the future of Social Security, the site of continual skirmishes since the Reagan era, is now being waged in earnest (for a history of this struggle see The Editors, “Social Security, the Stock Market, and the Elections,” Monthly Review, October 2000; see also, “Social Seceurity: The Phony Crisis” by Jacob Morris). President Bush began his second term by declaring that partial privatization of Social Security through the creation of personal investment accounts was at the top of the domestic agenda of his administration. This would require an estimated $2 trillion in additional borrowing over the next ten years, and even more after that (New York Times, January 3, 2005), to be coupled with drastic cuts in future Social Security benefits. The White House is counting on the Republican majority in both houses of Congress, the backing of Wall Street, and years of unrelenting ideological warfare against Social Security as the bases on which to effect this change… | more |

January 2005 (Volume 56, Number 8)

January 2005 (Volume 56, Number 8)

An essential aspect of any modern democratic society is a communications system that enables rather than disables public debate. Yet the mass media in the advanced capitalist societies are highly concentrated, controlled by a few owners (on the extent of this control in the United States and its implications see Robert W. McChesney, The Problem of the Media [Monthly Review Press, 2004]). Further, the United States has witnessed the emergence of what is undoubtedly the most sophisticated propaganda system ever developed, making it possible for control of the media to translate into the power to sway large parts of the society. An understanding of this problem is crucial if one is to grasp the changes occurring in U.S. society today: from war to privatization to the suppression of human rights… | more |

The Failure of Empire

The United States is facing the prospect of a major defeat in Iraq that is likely to constitute a serious setback in the ongoing campaign to expand the American empire. Behind the pervasive war propaganda as evidenced in the “victorious” attack on Fallujah lies the reality of a U.S. war machine that is fighting a futile battle against growing guerrilla forces, with little chance for a stable political solution to the conflict that could possibly meet U.S. imperial objectives. Nevertheless, the U.S. ruling class, though not unaware of the dangers, is currently convinced that it has no choice but to “stay the course”-a slogan adopted by both political parties and accepted by virtually the entire economic, political, military, and communications establishment. The reason for this seemingly irrational determination to stick it out at all costs can only be understood through an analysis of the logic and limits of capitalist empire… | more |

December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

December 2004 (Volume 56, Number 7)

New Political Science, a journal associated with the Caucus for a New Political Science, has devoted its entire September 2004 number to “The Politics of Empire, Terror and Hegemony.” The quality of the contributions to this special issue, some of them by MR and MR Press authors, including David Gibbs, Sheila Collins, Edward Greer, and William Robinson, is remarkable. In particular, Greer’s essay on the use of torture by the United States in the “Global War on Terror” uncovers facts that no one can afford to ignore. The deep impression that this essay and the reporting on U.S. acts of torture by Mike Tanner, writing for the New York Review of Books (October 7, 2004), have had on our own thinking is evident in this month’s Review of the Month… | more |

Notes from the Editors, November 2004

Notes from the Editors, November 2004

» Notes from the Editors

What was the principal motive for the U.S. invasion of Iraq? Few informed observers now believe that it was to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Months before the war in December 2002 we wrote in these pages: “Iraq today probably does not possess functional chemical and biological war capabilities since these were effectively destroyed during the UN inspection process in 1991–1998.” In early October 2004 Charles Duelfer, the CIA’s top weapons inspector, officially confirmed in a 918-page report delivered to two Congressional committees that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion. All such “capabilities,” his report indicated, had been destroyed or had simply “decayed” as a result of the 1991 Gulf War and the subsequent UN weapons inspection process. Of course even if it had been shown that Iraq had such weapons prior to the war this would not have justified the U.S. invasion, since numerous countries in the Middle East and elsewhere have weapons of mass destruction with the United States as the world leader in the possession (and use) of such weapons.… | more |

October 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

October 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

For more than a decade now the major corporate media and the U.S. government have been celebrating the growing “democratization” of Latin America. Rather than reflecting a genuine concern with democracy, however, this was meant to symbolize the defeat of various revolutionary movements, particularly in Central America in the 1980s and early ’90s. To the extent that formal, limited democracy actually made gains in the region this was viewed by the ruling powers in the United States as a means of institutionalizing and legitimizing structures of extreme inequality in line with the ends of the American empire… | more |

September 2004 (Volume 56, Number 4)

September 2004 (Volume 56, Number 4)

The nations of the Caribbean have the world’s second highest HIV infection rates, after sub-Saharan Africa. One Caribbean nation, Cuba, however, has largely escaped the disease with only a 0.07 percent infection rate, one of the lowest infection rates in the world. On July 15 Cuba announced at a meeting with its counterparts from the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) that it was launching an initiative to help the other Caribbean nations fight HIV/AIDS by providing them with antiretroviral drugs at below market prices, as well as doctors and instruction in public health methods for combating the AIDS pandemic. Cuba’s offer to help is viewed as nothing less than “spectacular” by the other Caribbean nations… | more |

July-August 2004 (Volume 55, Number 3)

July-August 2004 (Volume 55, Number 3)

We regret to announce the death of William Hinton, one of the greatest fighters for Chinese socialism (and socialism in general) in the 20th century, and a beloved member of the MR family. This fall we will publish one of his last public lectures on the role of Mao Zedong. What follows is a tribute written by Monthly Review Foundation board director, John Mage, posted earlier on the MR Web site
June 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

June 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

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… | more |

Is Iraq Another ‘Vietnam’?

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? … | more |

May 2004 (Volume 56, Number 1)

May 2004 (Volume 56, Number 1)

Although private corporations under capitalism have always been heavily involved in promoting war, the direct role played by the private sector in the prosecution of war has traditionally been quite limited, falling well short of the supply of combat troops. There are signs that this may now be changing. The decade and a half since the end of the Cold War has seen the rapid proliferation of private military firms, hundreds of which are now engaged in combat and combat-support operations in Iraq and throughout the globe. Some of these firms are subsidiaries of much larger multinational corporations. The private soldiers employed in this industry are mercenaries, but not of the traditional kind. They are employees of corporations that have boards of directors, are publicly traded, participate in the open market, carry out mergers, hire and fire in accordance with market criteria—and above all are not directly responsible to any public authority. In other words, these corporations and their employees are fully integrated with capitalist enterprise as a whole. This phenomenon has recently been dubbed “the corporatization of the military” by Peter Singer, a Brookings Institution analyst and author of Corporate Warriors (2003)… | more |

The Pentagon and Climate Change

Abrupt climate change has been a growing topic of concern for about a decade for climate scientists, who fear that global warming could shut down the ocean conveyer that warms the North Atlantic, plunging Europe and parts of North America into Siberian-like conditions within a few decades or even years. But it was only with the recent appearance of a Pentagon report on the possible social effects-in terms of instability and war-of abrupt climate change that it riveted public attention. As the Observer (February 22) put it, “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.” … | more |

April 2004 (Volume 55, Number 11)

April 2004 (Volume 55, Number 11)

This is the fourth in a continuing series of special issues on the economy to which we have devoted the magazine each April since 2001. In the first of these, written shortly before the 2001 recession began, we took on the then prevalent myth of the “New Economy,” arguing that it was more myth than reality, and dispelling the notion that high tech and rising productivity gains had somehow tamed the business cycle. In April 2002 we dedicated the Review of the Month to examining the core economic contradictions of the system in terms of “Slow Growth, Excess Capital, and a Mountain of Debt.” Last April we asked the question, “What Recovery?” and focused on the fact that the recovery had failed to spread to employment, and on the whole problem of labor underutilization—inquiring into how the economy managed to keep going at all under these circumstances.… | more |

The Stagnation of Employment

Except in times of war, capitalist economies almost never reach full employment. The mere absence of jobs for those desiring paid employment, however, is not necessarily a problem for the ruling economic interests. Unemployment and the underutilization of labor more generally—the existence of what Marx called the industrial reserve army of labor—is a necessary part of a capitalist economy, since it keeps wages low as workers are forced to compete with each other for jobs. This becomes a serious problem for the system or for the political structure when the shortfall in employment coincides with a deeper structural crisis; when aggregate demand and thus investment opportunities are hindered by low employment and low wages; and when a shortage of jobs creates a political problem, sometimes even igniting popular opposition at the grassroots of society. All three of these contradictions are apparent in 2004, setting the stage for a national debate on the question of jobs, which more than three years since the beginning of the 2001 recession is now suddenly a front page story… | more |

March 2004 (Volume 55, Number 10)

March 2004 (Volume 55, Number 10)

We were enormously pleased to publish in the November 2002 issue of MR Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins’s “Stephen Jay Gould: What Does it Mean to Be a Radical?” commemorating the life of their great Harvard colleague who had died earlier that year. Gould, as Lewontin and Levins explained, was, in addition to being one of the foremost evolutionary biologists and paleontologists of his time, “by far, the most widely known and influential expositor of science who has ever written for a lay public.” Their article has recently been reprinted as the concluding essay in Oliver Sacks, ed., The Best American Science Writing, 2003. This important series, with Jesse Cohen as the series editor, is published each year by HarperCollins, each time under the editorship of a different guest editor—in this instance Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and many other works. In preparing this year’s volume Sacks chose to dedicate the book to Stephen Jay Gould, who he sees as the exemplary figure in modern science writing… | more |

February 2004 (Volume 55, Number 9)

February 2004 (Volume 55, Number 9)

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Ralph Miliband, who was one of the leading Marxist political theorists of the second half of the 20th century. His works, Parliamentary Socialism (1961), The State in Capitalist Society (1969), and Marxism and Politics (1977) are classics of socialist political analysis. This year is also the 40th anniversary of The Socialist Register, an annual journal that Miliband cofounded and coedited for 30 years… | more |

January 2004 (Volume 55, Number 8)

January 2004 (Volume 55, Number 8)

Historical materialists are not prophets; they do not predict the future course of history. They are concerned rather with the present as history. This fundamental principle of Marxist thought is called to mind by our reencounter recently with a common misinterpretation of Lenin’s Imperialism. In his new book, The New Imperialism, David Harvey writes (p. 127): “I therefore think Arendt is…correct to interpret the imperialism that emerged at the end of the nineteenth century as the ‘first stage in political rule of the bourgeoisie rather than the last stage of capitalism’ as Lenin depicted it.” (See also Harvey’s piece “The ‘New’ Imperialism” in the Socialist Register, 2004, p. 69.)… | more |

Notes from the Editors, December 2003

Notes from the Editors, December 2003

» Notes from the Editors

On October 27, 2003, the New York Times ran a guest column on its Op-Ed page by David L. Kirp entitled “How Much for That Professor?” The piece, which was about universities spending big bucks to get professors with star power, focused in its opening and closing paragraphs on the case of Niall Ferguson, described as “the most widely discussed and controversial British historian of his generation.” Last winter, New York University successfully recruited Ferguson away from Oxford University with promises of big money and reduced teaching responsibilities. Barely six months later Harvard lured Ferguson away from New York University with an offer of even bigger rewards… | more |

Notes from the Editors, November 2003

Notes from the Editors, November 2003

» Notes from the Editors

In this number we are celebrating the hundredth anniversary of W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk by devoting a special issue to race and imperialism. MR is proud to have had a connection with Du Bois. Fifty years ago he wrote his famous article “Negroes and the Crisis of Capitalism in the United States” for MR (April 1953; reprinted in the magazine last April). In addition, Monthly Review Press is the publisher of Du Bois’ Education of Black People: Ten Critiques, 1906–1960, edited by Herbert Aptheker. This was a book that Du Bois had planned, based originally on seven critiques of education that he had delivered as speeches over the years. But his attempts in the 1940s to get it published proved futile. One publisher after another turned down the work—no doubt scared off by the very same ruthless critique that made his work so valuable. Yet, Du Bois never gave up hope of bringing out this book and it was found among his papers after his death in 1963. The published version, which was announced in the MR Press catalog in 1973 and has remained in print ever since (a new edition with a new foreword by Aptheker was brought out in 2001), included the original seven critiques and the short introductions that Du Bois had written for each of them for the book. It also contained three critiques of education that he had written in subsequent years. Everyone interested in the effects of race and class exploitation on higher learning in the United States would gain from a careful study of this profoundly humanistic, often lyrical, and fundamentally subversive work. In his 1908 lecture, “Galileo Galilei,” included in The Education of Black People, Du Bois wrote: “The greatest gift that a scholar can bring to Learning is Reverence of Truth, a Hatred of Hypocrisy and Sham, and an absolute sincerity of purpose.” There is no doubt that Du Bois exemplified this principle throughout his entire life… | more |

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