Thursday December 18th, 2014, 5:23 pm (EST)

Commentary

Commentary

The Compleat Economist

Nirmal Kumar Chandra (1936-2014)

Nirmal Chandra was, for half a century, among the very closest friends of Monthly Review. A comrade of Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, Nirmal continued to guide their successors in the economics and politics of South Asia. He played a central role in the creation and survival of the sister edition of Monthly Review in India, the Analytical Monthly Review. His contribution to the entire Monthly Review project was offered freely and immediately at the first request, and was invaluable. The loving memorial by the venerable Ashok Mitra, reproduced below, first appeared in The Telegraph on April 4, 2014.… | more |

The Baran Marcuse Correspondence

Paul A. Baran and Herbert Marcuse were close, life-long friends, both of whom had been attached to the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt in pre-Hitler Germany, and both of whom later emigrated to the United States—Marcuse to become a professor of philosophy at Brandeis University and Baran to become a professor of economics at Stanford. They corresponded frequently and met with each other when possible until Baran’s death in March 1964.

A Critique of Heinrich’s, ‘Crisis Theory, the Law of the Tendency of the Profit Rate to Fall, and Marx’s Studies in the 1870s’

Michael Heinrich’s article is really a continuation of the argument by Monthly Review that Marx’s law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (LTRPF) is not the main cause of economic crises.… Heinrich makes the following points: 1) Marx’s law is indeterminate; 2) it is empirically unproven and even unjustifiable on any measure of verification; 3) Engels edited Marx’s works badly, distorting his views about the law in Capital Vol. 3; 4) Marx himself, in writings during the 1870s, began to have doubts about the law as the cause of crises and started to abandon it in favour of some theory that took into account credit, interest rates and the problem of realisation (similar to Keynesian theory); 5) Marx died before he could present these revisions of his crisis theory, so there is no coherent Marxist theory of crisis.… | more |

Response to Heinrich—In Defense of Marx’s Law

It was Marx’s ultimate purpose, as stated in the preface to the first edition of Das Kapital, “to lay bare the economic law of motion of modern society.” It is clear that Marx regarded as his central achievement in this regard the “Law of the Falling Tendency of the Rate of Profit.” In vol.3, (p.303) he declares that: “The barrier of the capitalist mode of production becomes apparent… | more |

Critique of Heinrich: Marx did not Abandon the Logical Structure

Heinrich’s article is mainly about the falling rate of profit and crisis theory, but another important point has to do with Marx’s logical method in Capital, and in particular with the levels of abstraction of capital in general and competition. Heinrich argues that Marx encountered difficulties in the Manuscript of 1861-63 concerning this logical structure, and as a result of these difficulties, Marx abandoned this logical structure in the final versions of Capital.… | more |

Heinrich Answers Critics

For Marx, is a rising rate of surplus value (s/v) a part of the law itself (as it is presented in chapter 13 of vol. III of Capital) or is it a counteracting factor (dealt with in chapter 14)? There is an easy way to check: we just have to read chapter 13. Marx starts his presentation with a constant rate of surplus value and shows that a rising organic composition of capital leads to a falling rate of profit (pp. 317-18, all pages from the Penguin edition of Capital). Then very quickly he includes a rising rate of surplus value in his considerations (see pp. 319, 322, 326, 327, 333, 337). At pages 333 and 337 Marx even realizes the possibility of a profit rate rising with a rising rate of surplus value, but excludes such a possibility as an “isolated case” or not realistic without going into details. It is clear that he maintains the “law itself” not only with a constant rate of surplus value but also with a rising rate of surplus value!… | more |

Metabolic Rift

A Selected Bibliography

A bibliography of work utilizing the theory of metabolic rift developed by Marx.… | more |

2011: An Arab Springtime?

Samir Amin is director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal and author of The Liberal Virus (Monthly Review Press, 2004), The World We Wish to See (Monthly Review Press, 2008), and most recently The Law of Worldwide Value (Monthly Review Press, 2010). This article was translated by Shane Henry Mage. The year 2011 […]… | more |

The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban 5

The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban 5

The Trial is a Documentary by Rolando Almirante, narrated by Danny Glover and presented by ICAIC and Telesur. You can view the entire documentary below and read articles by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada about the Cuban 5.… | more |

Women’s Role in the Nepalese Movement

Making a People’s Constitution

At this very moment Nepal is making a constitution through the historic Constitutional Assembly (CA). It is important to note that up till now all prior constitutions handed over to the people of Nepal were through direct intervention of oligarchs or kings. It was the historic ten years of People’s War (PW) (1996-2006) complimented with 19 days of People’s Movement (April 2006) that made it possible to bring about a free and fair CA election in April 2008 as a means to make a people’s constitution by the people themselves. It is under the leadership of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) [CPN(Maoist)] and its skillful use of a united front with various parties that the monarchy system was abolished in 2008.… | more |

Spring Thunder Anew

Neo-Robber Baron Capitalism vs. ‘New Democracy’ in India

It has been a long and tortuous route. Forty-three years ago, a group of Maoist revolutionaries conceived of and embarked upon a revolutionary road that still inspires their political descendants, alarms the dominant classes, and provokes slander and denigration on the part of the establishment left, post-modernists and well-funded NGO bosses. This is the path of protracted people’s war (PPW). It relies on an alliance of the Indian proletariat with the poor and landless peasantry and the semi-proletariat to establish ‘base areas’ in the countryside, run them democratically as miniature, self-reliant states, carry out ‘land to the tiller’ and other social policies there, thereby building a political mass base to finally encircle and ‘capture’ the cities … | more |

What is Maoism?

Anuradha Ghandy (Anu as we knew her) was a member of the central committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) [CPI (Maoist)]. Early on, she developed a sense of obligation to the poor; she joined them in their struggle for bread and roses, the fight for a richer and a fuller life for all. Tragically, cerebral malaria took her away in April last year. What is this spirit that made her selflessly adopt the cause of the damned of the Indian earth—the exploited, the oppressed, and the dominated—as her own? The risks of joining the Maoist long march seem far too dangerous to most people, but not for her—bold, courageous and decisive, yet kind, gentle and considerate. Perhaps her days were numbered, marked as she was on the dossiers of the Indian state’s repressive apparatus as one of the most wanted “left-wing extremists”. That oppressive, brutal structure has been executing a barbaric counter-insurgency strategy—designed to maintain the status quo—against the Maoist movement in India. What is it that is driving the Indian state, hell bent as it is to cripple and maim the spirit that inspires persons like Anu? Practically the whole Indian polity.… | more |

‘The Dangers are Great, the Possibilities Immense’

The Ongoing Political Struggle in India

It is always easy to criticize and dismiss an argument in its weakest formulation. Attacking the policies of the security-centric Indian state establishment, particularly the Home Minister, today does not need much daring. So let us instead take the benign, almost humanist utterance of the Prime Minister in his address to state police chiefs in September 2009: don’t forget, he said, that the Maoist movement has support among the poorest of the poor in the country. Those on the left opposing the impending armed state offensive often invoke this quote from the PM to buttress their point about how these are really poor people, innocent civilians and ordinary villagers who will suffer if the offensive is undertaken … | more |

Interview with Baburam Bhattarai

Transition to New Democratic Republic in Nepal

World People’s Resistance Movement: Thank you for meeting with us today. In your article in The Worker #4 ‘The Political Economy of the People’s War’ you write that “the transformation of one social system into another, or the destruction of the old by the new, always involves force and a revolutionary leap. The People’s War is such a means of eliminating the old by a new force and of taking a leap towards a new and higher social system.” Why then did the Maoist party enter the peace process and attempt to change society through Constituent Assembly elections? … | more |

Analyzing Political Islam

A Critique of Traditional Historical Materialist Analytic

Political,1 more so, militant Islam has become an influential religious and social force in many post-colonial states.2 The militants face very little by way of real political opposition within Muslim-majority societies, but they are now targeted and attacked militarily by the United States, other Western imperial interests, and client post-colonial states. In the context of the war in Iraq, the occupation of Afghanistan, and the “war on terror,” much has been written by people on the left. But, there is little by way of understanding political Islam from a historical materialist perspective. Some months back, however, Samir Amin offered his traditional historical materialist analysis of political Islam (Monthly Review, December 2007) and very briefly touched on a range of issues, such as modernity, secularism and imperialism. Amin has been generally dismissive of political Islam and unambiguous in saying that Islamists have been in the “service of imperialism.” … | more |

Comments on Tariq Amin-Khan’s text

I am not surprised by our Pakistani friend Tariq Amin-Khan’s critique. I was expecting it. Therefore, I would like to offer some comments on his criticisms of me, which mainly result from ignorance of what I have written on the questions he raises … | more |

“Interview with Kathryn Mills and Pamela Mills”

In 1956, C. Wright Mills wrote a personal letter to his friends Harvey and Bette Swados.  “Let’s not forget,” Mills advised the Swadoses, “that there’s…more that’s useful in…the Sweezy kind of Marxism than in all the routineers of J.S. Mill [a.k.a. variants of modern political liberalism] put together.” … | more |

Drop Charges, Release Dr. Binayak Sen Forthwith

We, the undersigned, are dismayed at the continued detention of Dr Binayak Sen, General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), since May 14. Dr Binayak Sen is also the National Vice-President of the PUCL, one of the oldest civil liberties organisations in India … | more |

China, Capitalist Accumulation, and Labor

Most economists continue to celebrate China as one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. We, however, are highly critical of the Chinese growth experience. China’s growth has been driven by the intensified exploitation of the country’s farmers and workers, who have been systematically dispossessed through the break-up of the communes, the resultant collapse of health and education services, and massive state-enterprise layoffs, to name just the most important “reforms.” With resources increasingly being restructured in and by transnational corporations largely for the purpose of satisfying external market demands, China’s foreign-driven, export-led growth strategy has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. Moreover, in a world of competitive struggle among countries for both foreign direct investment and export markets, China’s gains have been organically linked to development setbacks in other countries. Finally, China’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on foreign capital but also on the unsustainable trade deficits of the United States. In short, the accumulation dynamics underlying China’s growth are generating serious national and international imbalances that are bound to require correction at considerable social cost for working people in China and the rest of the world … | more |

The Nepali Revolution and International Relations

A revolutionary civil war in Nepal ceased de facto with the popular triumph over King Gyanendra in April 2006, and de jure with the peace agreement reached in November 2006. The Royal Nepal Army (“RNA”) now calls itself the Nepal Army, and the peace agreement requires its democratization under the authority of the new government that includes the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). As of the date of writing this has not yet occurred and the Nepal Army is still commanded by those, primarily of the quite literally feudal elite, who — with U. S. “advisers” — had pursued the civil war with lawless brutality and impunity. Yet it is important not to underestimate the extent of the revolutionary changes in Nepal. Today both Nepal Army and the revolutionary armed forces (the People’s Liberation Army or “PLA”) are given in substance equal status under a peace agreement negotiated by the Nepalis themselves, and administered with the assistance of the United Nations.… | more |

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