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The Robbery of Nature: Capitalism and the Ecological Rift

In the nineteenth century, Karl Marx, inspired by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, argued that capitalism’s relation to its natural environment was that of a robbery system, leading to an irreparable rift in the metabolism between humanity and nature. In the twenty-first century, these classical insights into capitalism’s degradation of the earth have become the basis of extraordinary advances in critical theory and practice associated with contemporary ecosocialism. In The Robbery of Nature, John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, working within this historical tradition, examine capitalism’s plundering of nature via commodity production, and how it has led to the current anthropogenic rift in the Earth System. | more…

Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality

Sex and Socialism

While later generations of Marxian scientific socialists saw sex as secondary, derivative of the real relationships of production, many of the earliest socialist theorists and movements took sexual matters very seriously. Thus, in many ways, the advent of Marxian socialism represented something of a step backward in the development of a radical sexual politics. However, in the twentieth century, old divisions on the sex question within the left soon reappeared. | more…

The Struggle for Development

The Case for Labor-Led Development

As Benjamin Selwyn points out in his sharp and thoughtful The Struggle for Development, capital-centered development deepens exploitation. Selwyn powerfully challenges the capitalist road to further immiseration for the majority of the world’s population, opening up an important discussion regarding what is to be done in the twenty-first century. An alternative form of development, led by the laboring classes, is not only necessary but possible. Above all, “labouring-class movements and struggles against capitalist exploitation can be, and are, developmental in and of themselves.” | more…

How the World Works: The Story of Human Labor from Prehistory to the Modern Day

Few authors are able to write cogently in both the scientific and the economic spheres. Even fewer possess the intellectual scope needed to address science and economics at a macro as well as a micro level. But Paul Cockshott, using the dual lenses of Marxist economics and technological advance, has managed to pull off a stunningly acute critical perspective of human history, from pre-agricultural societies to the present. In How the World Works, Cockshott connects scientific, economic, and societal strands to produce a sweeping and detailed work of historical analysis. This book will astound readers of all backgrounds and ages; it will also will engage scholars of history, science, and economics for years to come. | more…

A Woman's Work Is Never Done

Liberating Women from “Political Economy”

Margaret Benston's Marxism and a Social-Reproduction Approach to Gender Oppression

There is an unresolved tension at the heart of Marxist explanations for women’s oppression under capitalism. Although there is general agreement that the bourgeois family, as the dominant kinship unit, has something to do with generating and reproducing that oppression, the exact role of the family varies among Marxists. In this respect, Margaret Benston’s proposal to situate domestic labor within capitalist production was truly pioneering. Rather than record and describe domestic work, Benston theorized this labor and laid the basis for later feminists to apprehend the production of commodities and the reproduction of labor power within a unitary framework. | more…

Socialist Register 2020: Beyond Market Dystopia: New Ways of Living

How can we build a future with better health and homes, respecting people and the environment? The 2020 edition of the Socialist Register, Beyond Market Dystopia, contains a wealth of incisive essays that entice readers to do just that: to wake up to the cynical, implicitly market-driven concept of human society we have come to accept as everyday reality. Intellectuals and activists such as Michelle Chin, Nancy Fraser, Arun Gupta, and Jeremy Brecher connect with and go beyond classical socialist themes, to combine an analysis of how we are living now with visions and plans for new strategic, programmatic, manifesto-oriented alternative ways of living. Crafted with purposeful hope in an age of despair, each essay in this volume aims to create a world of agency and justice. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 7 (December 2019)

December 2019 (Volume 71, Number 7)

Notes from the Editors

Bloomberg insists that we need to get our priorities straight: the economy comes before the earth, capitalism before nature. Yet, from any sort of realistic, world-wise perspective, it is clear that we are faced with two immense, imminent, and irreversible crises, one threatening within as short a time as a year to destabilize the world capitalist economy, the other promising to destroy the planet as a home to humanity, destabilizing industrial civilization and undermining the survival chances of hundreds of millions or even billions of people this century. Both represent the culmination of capitalist contradictions over centuries of development and both point to the need to transform society in revolutionary ways. It is the coevolution of economic and ecological contradictions under global monopoly-finance capital that defines the epochal historical crisis of our times. In this new issue of Monthly Review, we also celebrate Monthly Review‘s relationship with the annual School of Ecology in Mauritius. | more…

Daytime in Indian Creek, the Sixshooter Peaks in Bears Ears National Monument

Capitalism and Robbery

The Expropriation of Land, Labor, and Corporeal Life

Historical capitalism cannot be understood aside from its existence as a colonial/imperialist world system in which the violent exercise of power is an ever-present reality. In order to uncover the material conditions governing concrete capitalism, including its interface with land, nonwage labor, and corporeal life, it is therefore necessary to go beyond the inner reality of exploitation, and address expropriation, or the process of appropriation without equivalent (or without reciprocity) through which capital has sought to determine its wider parameters. | more…

Polish students, their teachers and others gather in front of universities to protest in March 1968

Liberated Capitalism

An interview with Henryk Szlajfer by Grzegorz Konat. Szlajfer was a leading figure in the student uprisings in Poland in March 1968. He was expelled from the University of Warsaw and was arrested and imprisoned for political dissent. He later conducted research in political economy focusing on the theory of monopoly capitalism, where he made major contributions, and coedited The Faltering Economy with John Bellamy Foster. | more…

Free Public Transit cover

Free Public Transit

Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay to Ride Elevators, edited by Judith Dellheim and Jason Prince, gives readers a distinctive blend of the visionary and the practical. It surprises us with rarely publicized instances in which quite sweeping societal transformations have been carried out. The matter-of-fact narratives, covering a wide span of national settings, allow us to envision new angles from which to confront some of the key issues of our time, from employment to civility to the rescue of the natural environment. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 6 (November 2019)

November 2019 (Volume 71, Number 6)

Notes from the Editors

Immanuel Wallerstein, the celebrated world-systems theorist and longtime contributor to Monthly Review and Monthly Review Press, died on August 31, 2019. Wallerstein first achieved international fame with the publication in 1974 of his The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century (the first in a four-volume masterwork on the Modern World-System. We pay tribute to Wallerstein in this new issue of Monthly Review. | more…