Saturday April 18th, 2015, 12:42 pm (EDT)

Creating a Just Society: Lessons from Planning in the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.: An Interview with Harry Magdoff

Lessons from Planning in the U.S.S.R. & the U.S.

In early July 2002, I asked Harry Magdoff if he would be interviewed for the Statesman, a Kolkata, India newspaper for which I write political commentary. Our first interview was so satisfying that we continued for several sessions. What follows is a discussion of something Harry has considered, what we can learn from the experience of the Soviet Union. It is, characteristically, concerned with learning from history. Harry is methodologically committed to the actual world from which all theory springs, to which it must speak, and to meet whose specific particularities it must continually be reshaped.… | more |

Punishment by Detail

Aside from the obvious physical discomforts, being ill for a long period of time fills the spirit with a terrible feeling of helplessness, but also with periods of analytic lucidity, which, of course, must be treasured. For the past three months, now I have been in and out of the hospital, with days marked by lengthy and painful treatments, blood transfusions, endless tests, hours and hours of unproductive time spent staring at the ceiling, draining fatigue and infection, inability to do normal work, and thinking, thinking, thinking. But there are also the intermittent passages of lucidity and reflection that sometimes give the mind a perspective on daily life that allows it to see things (without being able to do much about them) from a different perspective. Reading the news from Palestine and seeing the frightful images of death and destruction on television, it has been my experience to be utterly amazed and aghast at what I have deduced from those details about Israeli government policy, more particularly about what has been going on in the mind of Ariel Sharon. And when, after the recent Gaza bombing by one of his F-16s in which nine children were massacred, he was quoted as congratulating the pilot and boasting of a great Israeli success, I was able to form a much clearer idea than before of what a pathologically deranged mind is capable of, not only in terms of what it plans and orders but, worse, how it manages to persuade other minds to think in the same delusional and criminal way. Getting inside the official Israeli mind is a worthwhile, if lurid, experience… | more |

Class, Economy, and the Second Intifada

The current Palestinian Intifada and Israel’s brutal response has been the subject of countless articles over the last two years. There is however a disappointing vacuum within left analysis, with much of this writing attempting to explain the character of Israeli policy through the right-wing views of Ariel Sharon. Within this framework, Israeli strategy is presented as a racist extension of colonialist designs on the Occupied Territories sometimes including the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip (hereafter referred to as WB/GS)… | more |

It’s Not a Postcapitalist World, Nor is it a Post-Marxist One—An Interview with John Bellamy Foster

This interview appeared in Evrensel Kultur (Universal Culture), September 2002, issue no. 129. Evrensel Kultur, published in Turkey, is a monthly Marxist journal of culture, arts, and literature. The interview was arranged by Arif Bektas in London and was conducted by email… | more |

Remembering Beadie Magdoff

For more than three decades, visitors to Monthly Review’s Manhattan offices would be greeted with the slightly raspy, always cheerful “Hi ya” that Beadie Magdoff offered to cabinet ministers, students, revolutionaries, workers, political exiles, and internationally renowned scholars. They came to work with the editors, to join the lunchtime discussions, and, of course, to leave with the latest Monthly Review Press books that Beadie made sure they bought. Beadie was an instrumental part of the daily life of MR, indefatigable not only in the small tasks she took on, but in her insistence on an unyielding passion for social justice as well as a clear focus on the case for socialism… | more |

September 2002 (Volume 54, Number 4)

September 2002 (Volume 54, Number 4)

The growth and eventual bursting of financial bubbles is an inherent feature of capitalist accumulation, as can be seen in the long history of such crises from the South Sea Bubble of the early eighteenth century to the financial blowouts of the present day. In the first half of the summer a dramatic bubble-bursting decline in the U.S. and European stock exchanges wiped out the stock market gains of the previous five years—a period characterized by manic speculation… | more |

I. Capitalism’s Twin Crises: Economic and Environmental

Economic & Environmental

History has provided us with numerous examples of economic stagnation and breakdown, as well as environmental degradation caused by human activity, even before capitalism existed. But capitalism’s central characteristic—the incessant drive to invest and accumulate wealth—gives birth to never-ending economic and environmental crises… | more |

II. Capitalism and Ecology

The Nature of the Contradiction

The social relation of capital, as we all know, is a contradictory one. These contradictions, though stemming from capitalism’s internal laws of motion, extend out to phenomena that are usually conceived as external to the system, threatening the integrity of the entire biosphere and everything within it as a result of capital’s relentless expansion. How to understand capitalism’s ecological contradictions has therefore become a subject of heated debate among socialists. Two crucial issues in this debate are: (1) must ecological crisis lead to economic crisis under capitalism?, and (2) to what extent is there an ecological contradiction at the heart of capitalist society? … | more |

Feminist Consciousness After the Women’s Movement

There is no longer an organized feminist movement in the United States that influences the lives and actions of millions of women and engages their political support. There are many organizations, ranging from the National Organization for Women to women’s caucuses in labor unions and professional groups, which fight for women’s rights, and there are many more organizations, many of them including men as well as women, whose priorities include women’s issues. But the mass women’s movement of the late sixties, seventies, and early eighties no longer exists. Few, among the many women who regard themselves as feminists, have anything to do with feminist organizations other than reading about them in the newspapers. Young women who are drawn to political activism do not, for the most part, join women’s groups. They are much more likely to join anticorporate, antiglobalization, or social justice groups. These young women are likely to regard themselves as feminists, and in the groups that they join a feminist perspective is likely to affect the way in which issues are defined and addressed. But this is not the same thing as a mass movement of women for gender equality. A similar dynamic has taken place in other circles as well. There are now very large numbers of women who identify with feminism, or, if they are reluctant to adopt that label, nevertheless expect to be treated as the equals of men. And there are large numbers of men who support this view… | more |

How I Became a Socialist

The story of how Helen Keller (1880-1967), struck blind and deaf while a toddler, overcame her disabilities with the help of her teacher Anne Sullivan, is a familiar one. William Gibson’s drama, The Miracle Worker, made into a movie, popularized that part of her story. She is remembered for accomplishments such as graduating cum laude from Radcliffe College; as an internationally famous advocate for the deaf and blind; and as a celebrity, writing books, appearing in films and on the vaudeville stage. Her friend Mark Twain described her, along with Napoleon, as one of the “two most interesting characters of the nineteenth century.” What is usually forgotten, however, is that she was also a prominent, articulate, and passionate voice for socialism. From a condition of profound isolation she grew into an inspired communicator, fully engaged with the world around her. She joined the Socialist Party in 1909 (later she’d join the Industrial Workers of the World, too) and championed her socialist vision while lecturing and writing on the issues of her day-in support of worker’s struggles, the Russian Revolution, and women’s suffrage, and against the First World War. There was no separation in her mind between her struggle on behalf of the disabled and her struggle for socialism. She attributed the greater portion of the ills experienced by the disabled, and the cause of these disabilities in many cases, to capitalism and industrialism. After 1921, she focused her energies on raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind but she remained a supporter of radical causes for the rest of her life. This essay appeared in the New York Call, a daily newspaper of the Socialist Party, on November 3, 1912.… | more |

—The Editors… | more |

A Student-Worker Alliance is Born

Liza Featherstone and United Students Against Sweatshops, Students Against Sweatshops (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 119 pages, paper $15.00.

Not long ago, the conventional wisdom was that capitalism was so completely triumphant that we were at the “end of history.” So strong and seemingly obvious was this view that many progressives embraced it. People’s imaginations shrunk and only the smallest and most local kinds of change appeared possible… | more |

July-August 2002 (Volume 54, Number 3)

July-August 2002 (Volume 54, Number 3)

Fifty-four years ago when MR was being planned, one of the questions that the editors, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, had to decide was whether to have a section at the back of the magazine on literature and the arts, what in publisher’s parlance is called “the back of the book.” The MR editors decided not to do so, mainly for practical reasons. They did not feel that they had the necessary knowledge and training to do a good job editorially with such cultural material, and they felt sure that in the circumstances that the U.S. left then found itself they could not count on the support of enough serious socialist critics to sustain an arts section meeting the same standards as MR as a whole. In 1963, the first of these conditions changed temporarily, when Frances Kelly, who had been Business Manager of the New Left Review in London and whose special field of competence was the arts, came to work with the MR editors as Assistant and then Associate Editor. Under Frances Kelly’s editorship, MR published a cultural supplement called Review 1 as an experiment in 1965… | more |

The Cultures of Socialism in the United States

The little-understood roots of the left offer us the chance to demonstrate a vital continuity. A bridge just now being rediscovered exists between the nineteenth century Euro-American traditions upon which the modern Marxist movements were founded, and the cultures (i.e., the collective, including artistic, expression) of minority populations old and new to the United States… | more |

One or Two Things I Know About Us

Rethinking the Image and Role of the "Okies"

While at work on this paper, I glanced at the headline in the morning newspaper: “SWAT Team Kills Gunman at Sacramento Tax Office,” and I said to myself, “Probably an Okie.” I read the article and found no reference to Okies—that would never happen in California these days—but the evidence was there: A white man named Jim Ray Holloway, age fifty-three, from Manteca, wearing a cowboy hat, carrying a rifle, a shotgun, and a hand gun, ex-cop, mad about taxes. The name, the age, the hometown in the agricultural Central Valley, the cowboy hat, the kinds of weapons, the career, the lightening rage at the state, all point to his being an Okie… | more |

Mike Alewitz, Labor Muralist

The reappearance of the mural marks the return of painting from the museum to its public role in the human community. The work of muralist Mike Alewitz and the collective character of his projects draw upon centuries or eons of collaborative activity, from cave paintings to Michelangelo, the Dada and Surrealist movements to political graffiti. Alewitz’s approach is ideally suited to the postmodern and post-state socialist era when everything rebellious must be created anew and when “culture” along with “labor” is urgently needed to salvage a world from eco-disaster, perpetual war, and the plundering of human possibility. The art of Alewitz and Co. (with the Co. constantly changing) has already been part of labor’s recovery from decades of poor leadership, part of the struggle for democratic unions in a changing global marketplace and with a rapidly changing workforce… | more |

A View from New Mexico

Recollections of the Movimiento Left

If ever there has been a chapter of the U.S. left with deep cultural roots in every sense, it is the movimiento of New Mexico… | more |

A Remarkable Journey

Doris Haddock (with Dennis Burke), Granny D: Walking Across America in My 90th Year(New York: Villard Books, 2001), 285 pages, $21.95, hardcover.

Doris Haddock is a retired shoe factory worker and a member of the Episcopal Church in Dublin, New Hampshire, where her grandmother came in the nineteenth century to work in a textile mill. Doris married young, raised a family, and has twelve great-grandchildren… | more |

June 2002 (Volume 54, Number 2)

June 2002 (Volume 54, Number 2)

In the May issue of MR, we published an article by James Petras, written in March, entitled “The U.S. Offensive in Latin America.” The article raised the issue of an impending military coup in Venezuela, then being actively promoted by Washington, aimed at replacing the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez with what the Bush administration had already been publicly calling a “transitional government” (or, as Petras termed it, a “transitional civic-military junta”). “Washington,” Petras wrote, “is implementing a civil-military approach to overthrow President Chávez in Venezuela….U.S. strategy is multiphased and combines media, civic, and economic attacks with efforts to provoke fissures in the military, all aimed at encouraging a military coup.” The object of the coup, from Washington’s standpoint, was threefold: to regain control of Venezuela’s oil industry which accounts for 15 percent of U.S. oil imports, to eliminate the indirect support that Venezuela has been giving to guerrillas in Colombia and to insurgent forces in Ecuador, and to put an end to Chávez’s attempt to break away from the imperialistic network—Venezuela’s step toward independence… | more |

Social Justice and Globalization: Are they Compatible?

In a speech in 1999, Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford, candidly remarked that “globalization” is another term for U.S. domination.1 Such clarity tends, in itself, to negatively answer the question posed in the title of this talk. How can anyone argue that U.S. domination—or using the less polite term, “U.S. imperialism”—is compatible with social justice? … | more |

Violence as a Tool of Order and Change

The War on Terrorism and the Antiglobalization Movement

September 11, it is said, has changed everything. However true or not this may be—and I tend to think that it is not very true at all—one thing it certainly should have changed is the loose manner in which the adjective “violent” has been appended to recent antiglobalization protests. Especially for a conference such as this one—conceived in the wake of the Québec City events of last year and designed to shed light on the nature of the challenge posed to capitalist democracies by the new antiglobalization movement—the horrific and deadly terrorist attack on New York and Washington, D.C., and the scale of state violence unleashed—literally from on high—by the war on terrorism, certainly put this loose usage in stark perspective… | more |

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