Andre Gunder Frank, one of the leading radical social scientists of the late twentieth century and a long-time friend and contributor to Monthly Review and Monthly Review Press, died on April 23, 2005, at age seventy-six
With the failure of its three previous attempts since 2002 to topple the Bolivarian Revolution of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Washington has recently announced a new “containment” strategy for crippling the democratically elected and socialist-oriented government of Latin America’s leading oil power
Annette Rubinstein’s ninety-fifth birthday will be celebrated on Saturday April 9 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the new home of the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School, at Westbeth, 451 West Street, at the corner of Bank Street, in Manhattan. We are pleased to join Annette’s family, friends, and comrades in also marking her thirty years of teaching at the Brecht Forum and eighty-five years of conscious socialist practice. Our friends at the Brecht promise refreshments, good music, an interesting program, and lots of fun and joy. For additional information call 212-242-4201 or go to www.brechtforum.org. Annette has asked that instead of gifts contributions be made to The Brecht Forum, Inc
David Wyss, chief economist for Standard & Poor’s, recently opened an article, “Good, Gloomy or Grim in 2005?,” with the words: “Growth tops the wish list [for the U.S. economy], but even recession wouldn’t be all that bad, given that recovery always follows. The big fear? Stagnation” (Business Week Online, January 10, 2005)
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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?