Wednesday April 23rd, 2014, 1:01 pm (EDT)

Europe

Europe

Human Rights and the Ideology of Capitalist Globalization

A View from Slovenia

Ideologies are a constant of human societies, though they have become more explicit in modern society. Since the eighteenth century, they have been increasingly distinguished from religious doctrines and popular religion. Ideologies make a claim to knowledge about society. This knowledge is, of course, biased and distorted in accordance with the interests of certain groups in society, with historical conditions and circumstances. Ideologies claim to be complete accounts of reality, but they are not. They can be critiqued. They rise and pass away, and are perpetuated with certain interests in mind. The “truth” of ideology is political. Therefore, in Marx’s words, ideology is a “false consciousness”… | more |

March 2000, Volume 51, Number 10

March 2000, Volume 51, Number 10

» Notes from the Editors

What do Helmut Kohl and Elián Gonzáles have in common? What could possibly unite the destinies of the huge former Chancellor of Germany, who for so many years dominated European politics and played the part of senior statesman on the global stage, and the little boy whose only political role so far has been as pawn in the hands of fading right-wing Cuban fanatics in Miami? … | more |

Kosovo and “the Jewish Question”

Whether or not it is true, as Vaclav Havel famously claimed, that NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia represents the first war to be waged “in the name of principles and values,” the first “ethical war,” it might well be the case that it is the first act of armed aggression against a sovereign state whose popular legitimization relied almost wholly upon an alleged historical analogy. NATO spokespersons and apologists could not allude often enough to the Second World War,Hitler, and the Nazi regime’s persecution of the Jews. They did this in lieu of providing reasoned justification for NATO’s action, perhaps because under existing international law there was surely no such
justification to be found … | more |

The Blair Kitsch Proiect

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it was not simply the Soviet Union or the “communist idea” or the efficacy of Marxist solutions that collapsed. Western European social democracy, too, was severely dented. In the face of a triumphalist capitalist storm that swept the world it, too, had to trim its sails. The fact that, barring Spain, social democratic parties or coalitions govern most of Western Europe today is of inter- est largely because of the collective experience it provides: these parties can no longer deliver effective policies that improve the conditions of the majority of electors whose votes have placed them in power. Capitalism, unchallenged from any quarter, no longer feels the need to protect its left flank by conceding reforms… | more |

September 1998, Volume 50, Number 4

September 1998, Volume 50, Number 4

» Notes from the Editors

The left has more than once heard calls for a “third way”. In decades gone by, people talked about a “third way” between Communism and capitalism, which was social democracy. Now that both the Communism of that period and the social democratic alternative have both more or less died, we’re beginning to hear about a new “third way”. The main exponent of this new alternative is the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. But there’s talk of a “third way” partnership between Blair and Clinton, or even a troika with the man who may become the next Chancellor of Germany, the German Social-Democratic Party’s Gerhard Schroder … | more |

A Report from Minsk

In Minsk, in the summer of 1992, I spoke to a militia officer (our term for the local police) who worked at the department responsible for the fight against organized crime. As a writer I was particularly interested in the activities (and thought patterns and language) of the newly emerging private business. The officers of the department were well informed, and they were in a despondent and confused mood. “I returned recently from the U.S.A., where I spent some time working in an American police department,” the chief of the unit told me.” An American policeman explained to me what we here in Belarus should be doing. ‘You want to build capitalism,’ said he, ‘good.’ ‘But where will your people get money to start a business, or to buy factories from the state? From what you tell me, they cannot obtain money legally. So you, the cops, should close your eyes to crimes that only involve money. Your job now is to see that people don’t kill each other in the streets—nothing more. When the ones who have stolen enough money take power they will adopt their own laws. And then you can do your best to achieve law and order in the country.’” … | more |

The Reconstruction of Bourgeois Order in Northern Ireland

In April, the Northern Ireland process finally resulted in an agreement reached under the chairmanship of U.S. Senator John Mitchell. The so-called Good Friday Agreement, which is to be put to a referendum on May 22, proposed the establishment of a power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly (with the prospect of Sinn Fein actually joining a Northern Ireland executive), a cross-border Council of Ireland to reassure the Nationalist community that their interests are protected, and a British Council to similarly reassure the Unionists. A major concession to the Unionists is the proposal that the Irish Republic drop its constitutional claim to the North. There is also an understanding that the prisoners from those paramilitary organizations accepting the agreement will be released within two years of its implementation.… | more |

Requiem for Social Democracy?

The fall of the Soviet empire was greeted not only as the funeral of socialism. It was also described as marking the final dead end for all revolutionary roads. The practitioners of revolution—Robespierre and Cromwell—as well as its theoreticians—Luxemburg and Marx—were lumped together in retrospective condemnation. Logically, such an offensive against the very idea of radical transformation should have been coupled with praise for gradualism, for Fabian tactics, for progressive change. To use two cliches at once, the “col- lapse of communism” could have been combined with the “triumph of social democracy.” Actually, nothing of the kind happened. On the contrary, the disintegration of the neo-stalinist system has been followed by a major crisis of social-democracy, taken here in its very narrow current definition-the reformist management of capitalist society.… | more |

Reflections on the Recent Work of Sheila Rowbotham

Women's Movements and Building Bridges

Sheila Rowbotham is an active British socialist feminist as well as a political-historical writer. Growing up intellectually and politically in the Marxist tradition as shaped by Edward and Dorothy Thompson, growing and changing in struggles lost and won, Rowbotham continues to base her analyses in history. Her personal history and memory contribute significant details to the political analyses she offers, especially of grassroots movements. Rowbotham lives the life of a politically committed activist and an historical reporter, while a single mother actively engaged in her community. She has written fifteen books, innumerable articles, introductions, essays, poems, films, record jackets, reports, reviews and interviews.… | more |

Homage to Pasolini on the Twentieth Anniversary of His Murder

Pier Paolo Pasolini, born in Bologna on March 5, 1922, and raised in the Friuli region of Venetia, is, in the words of Alberto Moravia, the major Italian poet of the second half of the twentieth century. He was also a filmmaker, novelist, and political journalist of genius. He was murdered twenty years ago, on November 2, 1975.… | more |

Hobsbawm’s Century

In 1902, the Rationalist Press Association issued a pamphlet entitled A New Catechism. Like the classic Roman Catholic statement of belief on which it was modeled, the document comprised a long list of questions and answers. However, the faith which it rehearsed was not belief in Christianity, but rather belief in secular human reason. The pamphlet opened with a stirring dedication:

We baptize the twentieth century—in the name of Peace, Liberty, and Progress! We christen her—the People’s Century. We ask of the new century a Religion without superstition; Politics without war; Science and the arts without materialism; and wealth without misery or wrong!… | more |