Saturday December 20th, 2014, 12:57 pm (EST)

Europe

Implosion of the European System

Majority opinion in Europe holds that Europe has all it takes to become an economic and political power comparable to, and consequently independent of, the United States…. I believe that Europe suffers from three major handicaps that rule out such a comparison. First of all, the northern part of the American continent…is endowed with natural resources incomparably greater than the part of Europe to the west of Russia…. Secondly, Europe is made up of a good number of historically distinct nations whose diversity of political cultures…has sufficient weight to exclude recognition of a “European people”… In the third place…capitalist development in Europe was and remains uneven, whereas American capitalism has developed in a fairly uniform way throughout the northern American area, at least since the Civil War. Europe, to the west of historic Russia…is composed of three unequally developed sets of capitalist societies.… | more |

"An authoritative account of how the Polish transformation betrayed the Polish working class and its aspirations."
—Jan Toporowski, SOAS, University of London

From Solidarity to Sellout

The Restoration of Capitalism in Poland

In the 1980s and 90s, renowned Polish economist Tadeusz Kowalik played a leading role in the Solidarity movement, struggling alongside workers for an alternative to “really-existing socialism” that was cooperative and controlled by the workers themselves. In the ensuing two decades, “really-existing” socialism has collapsed, capitalism has been restored, and Poland is now among the most unequal countries in the world. Kowalik asks, how could this happen in a country that once had the largest and most militant labor movement in Europe?… | more |

Conduct Hard to Forget

Erich Honecker was the most revolutionary German I had ever known. Every man lives his own time. These are infinitely changing times if they are compared to any former time. I had the privilege of observing his conduct when he was bitterly paying the debt contracted by the one who had sold his soul to the devil for a few swigs of Vodka.… | more |

The 67th anniversary of the victory over Nazi fascism

NO political event can be judged outside of the period and circumstances in which it took place. No one knows even one percent of the fabulous history of human beings, but thanks to this history, we know about events which surpass the limits of the imaginable. The privilege of having known persons, and even places […]… | more |

Welcome to the Desert of Transition!

Post-Socialism, the European Union, and a New Left in the Balkans

The world’s attention has been on the political transformations in the Middle East, the wave of protests from Tel Aviv to Madrid to Wall Street, and the ongoing Greek crisis. But in the shadow of this unrest, the post-socialist Balkans have been boiling. Protests displaying for the most part social demands broke out throughout 2011 in Romania, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia and, most notably, Croatia. Post-socialist citizens today feel largely excluded from the decision-making process. Most elections have turned out to be little more than a reshuffling of the same political oligarchy with no serious differences in political programs or rhetoric. During the privatization campaigns many lost their jobs, or had labor conditions worsen and pensions evaporate, and most of the guaranteed social benefits (such as free education and health care) have progressively disappeared as well. Neoliberal reforms were portrayed as a necessary part of the EU integration process.… | more |

Genocidal Cynicism (Part 1)

No sane person, especially someone who has had access to the elementary knowledge acquired in primary school, would agree that our species, especially those who are children, teenagers or youth, should be deprived of the right to live, today, tomorrow and forever. Never have human beings, throughout their eventful history, as persons endowed with intelligence, […]… | more |

Mortgaging Irish Independence

From Financial Crisis to Socialist Resistance

A specter is haunting Ireland—the specter of James Connolly.… Connolly was shot to death by a British firing squad for his role in Ireland’s 1916 rising for home rule. Celebrated as a hero of Irish independence by Irish political parties of both left and right, his socialism is all too conveniently overlooked. The Irish struggle is one that speaks to the challenges of independence, sovereignty, and democratic freedom, both then and now, for people of all countries. What value is formal political independence if it is not backed up by economic control; if the real decisions of public policy are made in boardrooms and backrooms rather than main streets and parliaments?… | more |

The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber

The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber

A Social History of Rubber

Capital, as Marx once wrote, comes into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.” He might well have been describing the long, grim history of rubber. From the early stages of primitive accumulation to the heights of the industrial revolution and beyond, rubber is one of a handful of commodities that has played a crucial role in shaping the modern world, and yet, as John Tully shows in this remarkable book, laboring people around the globe have every reason to regard it as “the devil’s milk.” All the advancements made possible by rubber—industrial machinery, telegraph technology, medical equipment, countless consumer goods—have occurred against a backdrop of seemingly endless exploitation, conquest, slavery, and war. But Tully is quick to remind us that the vast terrain of rubber production has always been a site of struggle, and that the oppressed who toil closest to “the devil’s milk” in all its forms have never accepted their immiseration without a fight.… | more |

Water—On Women’s Burdens, Humans’ Rights, and Companies’ Profits

How is it possible that a person living in a water-rich region uses more water by flushing the toilet than a person in a water-scarce region has available for drinking, food-preparation, hygiene, and cleaning—for a whole day? How is it possible that a woman living in a water-rich region only needs to open the tap to get enough water for herself and her family, while a woman in a water-scarce region has to…walk for miles and miles to get far less water of much worse quality? Why is that so? Is it bad fortune? Unfair? Destiny? Undeserved? Is it unjust? It is all these, but also much more. Water is the essence of life. It is the precondition of life.… This article has two parts. The first deals with dominant positions concerning water: the neoliberal agenda, consequences of water privatization, and the UN stance. The second part looks at what is missing in this picture and ignored by the dominant perspectives—namely, global inequalities and gender discrimination.… | more |

The Crisis of Capitalism in Europe, West and East

There are three dimensions to the current, unprecedented global crisis of capitalism: economic, ecological, and political.… | more |

Let us look first at the economic dimension, which will be our main concern in this article. Capitalism is facing a major realization crisis—an inability to sell the output produced, i.e., to realize, in the form of profits, the surplus value extracted from workers’ labor. Neoliberalism can be viewed as an attempt initially to solve the stagflation crisis of the 1970s by abandoning the “Keynesian consensus” of the “golden age” of capitalism (relatively high social welfare spending, strong unions, and labor-management cooperation), via an attack on labor. It succeeded, in that profit rates eventually recovered in the major capitalist economies by the 1990s… | more |

The Infinite Hypocrisy of the West

ALTHOUGH several articles on this subject were published before and after September 1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled “El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy” (The Gypsy Holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly dramatic history. Without adding or removing a single word […]… | more |

The Nuclear Winter

I feel embarrassed to be unaware of the subject, one that I have not even heard mentioned before. On the contrary, I would have understood much earlier that the risks of a nuclear war were far more serious than I imagined. I assumed that the planet would be able to withstand the explosion of hundreds […]… | more |

I am an optimist on rational grounds

THE days are passing by. One after another, they are going by rapidly. Some people are getting anxious. I, on the other hand, am calm. I share with our workers the results they are achieving in their work, in the midst of the blockade and other accumulated necessities.… | more |

The Mythology of Imperialism

The Mythology of Imperialism

A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age

“We, the readers and students of literature, have been hijacked. The literary critics, our teachers, those assassins of culture, have put us up against the wall and held us captive.” So begins Jonah Raskin’s The Mythology of Imperialism. When first published in 1971, this book was nothing short of a call to arms, an open revolt against the literary establishment. In his critique of five well–known British writers—Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and Joyce Cary—Raskin not only developed the model for a revolutionary anti–imperialist criticism, but, through this book’s influence on Edward Said, helped usher in the field of postcolonial studies.… | more |

Obama Has No Easy Task

I remember that, when I visited the People’s Republic of Poland, during Gierek’s government, I was taken to Osviecim, the most notorious of all concentration camps. There I learned about the horrible crimes committed by the Nazis against Jewish children, women and senior citizens, which resulted from the implementation of the ideas contained in the book Mein Kampf written by Adolph Hitler. Those ideas had been implemented before at the time when the territory of the USSR was invaded in the quest for ‘living space.’ By that time, the governments of London and Paris incited the Nazi chief against the Soviet State.… | more |

The Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933-2008: The Production of Law and History

In the opening decade of the twentieth century the German national state united the great majority of the German speaking population of Europe, excluding only those in Switzerland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was among the leading states of the world. It boasted technologically advanced industry, among the highest per capita GDP, and the second largest army and third largest navy in the world. Germany was at peace, save for minor military operations against disobedient natives in Southwest Africa. It was a state that was among world leaders in providing basic social insurance, yet held sacred private property and the rule of law, except only in strictly prescribed areas of national security. In the opening decade of the twenty-first century the German national state unites the great majority of the German speaking population of Europe, excepting only those in Switzerland and Austria, its industry is technologically advanced and its per capita GDP high. Its military budget is the sixth largest in the world, and it is at peace, save for minor military operations against disobedient natives in Afghanistan. Despite cutbacks, few states in the world have better provision of basic social insurance, and Germany today prides itself on holding private property to be sacred and on its adherence to the rule of law, except for a few strictly prescribed areas of national security. In the fourth and fifth decades of the twentieth century the German national state committed crimes universally agreed to be the most horrendous in human history.… | more |

America Right or Wrong: Anglo-American Relations Since 1945

British subordination to the United States, the so-called special relationship as it is optimistically known in London, is so taken for granted that it is seldom subjected to critical scrutiny. Why is it that the British ruling class and its agents have since 1945 come to embrace a junior partnership in the U.S. empire so wholeheartedly? Most recently, the “special relationship” has seen the New Labor government actively support and take part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq in the face of a hostile public opinion. Indeed, the largest demonstration in British history, on February 15, 2003, was against British participation in this unprovoked war of imperialist aggression. The lying, dishonest pretext for the invasion together with… | more |

The powerless powers

This is a serious subject.… | more |

The summit meeting of leaders of the eight most highly industrialized powers on the planet took place July 7-9 at a mountain retreat on the banks of the Toyako, a lake formed inside a volcanic crater located in the north of the island of Hokkaido, in the northern reaches of the Japanese archipelago. It would be hard to choose a site more removed and distant from the madding crowd than this.… | more |

The Danish Disease: A Political Culture of Islamophobia

In trying to comprehend the virus of Islamophobia now infecting Europe, the small country of Denmark offers powerful insights. Shakespeare’s phrase that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” seems appropriate to describe the transformation taking place in this former bastion of tolerance and conviviality.… | more |

From Borderline to Borderland: The Changing European Border Regime

All along the European border, the year 2006 set new records: Spanish authorities reported 6,000 refugees dead, drowned in the Atlantic Ocean while trying to reach the Canary Islands, off West Africa.1 Hundreds more suffocated in containers, trucks, and cargo boats in the ports of London, Dublin, and Rotterdam, or froze to death in Eastern Europe. Others, locked up in one of the innumerable internment camps spread all over the heart of Europe and North Africa, desperately decided to end their own lives.2 At the same time, Europe reported the lowest rate in years of refugees officially seeking asylum. This list obviously doesn’t point to a more peaceful world. What it indicates instead is that in Europe the criteria and procedures for securing legal refugee status have become so restrictive that most migrants no longer bother to apply for it. In 2006, Germany for example counted only 20,000 petitions for political asylum, the lowest number since 1977. If we include the member states of the European Union (EU), that number rises to 200,000.3 However, the real story of the border regime, and its constriction of the category for legal entrance and residence, is in the rising body count… | more |

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