Monday April 27th, 2015, 8:04 am (EDT)

Between Barbarism and a Solar Transition

John Bellamy Foster’s brilliant review, “Monopoly Capital and the New Globalization” (Monthly Review, January 2002), demonstrates how monopoly capitalism has reached its current crisis, one in which all the contradictions of imperialist domination and the worldwide lack of effective demand are now leading toward the stark choice between a “deadly barbarism or a humane socialism”… | more |

The Long March Goes On

Helen Praeger Young, Choosing Revolution: Chinese Women Soldiers on the Long March (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001) 282 pages, $35, hardcover.

Coming of age in the new China, I heard and read abundant stories about the 25,000 li Long March. Films, plays, and operas during the first two decades of the People’s Republic showed the heroic deeds performed by the Red Army soldiers as well as the bravery and tenacity they displayed in their fight against the Nationalist enemy, local despots and bandits, and in overcoming the unimaginable hardships on the march, especially when they crossed the grasslands and climbed over the snow mountains. Those are great stories, touching, inspiring, and educating. Yet, they sometimes seem so far away and unattainable… | more |

May 2002 (Volume 54, Number 1)

May 2002 (Volume 54, Number 1)

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Monthly Review Press. The idea of starting a book publishing arm of MR had its origin in an accidental meeting in Central Park in 1951 between noted journalist I.F. Stone, then a reporter and columnist of the leftist New York Daily Compass, and MR editors Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy. Stone told Huberman and Sweezy that he had written a book disputing the official history of the Korean War but had not been able to find a publisher in that era of fervent McCarthyism and war hysteria. They asked to see the manuscript, and on its strength decided to establish Monthly Review Press. The Hidden History of the Korean War, the very first book published by Monthly Review Press, was released in May 1952… | more |

Upton Sinclair and the Contradictions of Capitalist Journalism

Beginning in the 1980s, there was a significant increase in awareness of the deep flaws of mainstream journalism among those on the U.S. left. Writers such as Todd Gitlin, Herbert Schiller, Gaye Tuchman, Ben Bagdikian, and Michael Parenti, each in his or her own way, drew attention to the incompatibility between a corporate run news media and an ostensibly democratic society. The work of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, in particular, introduced an entire generation of progressives to a critical position regarding mainstream journalism. As the title of their masterful Manufacturing Consent indicated, the capitalist news media are far more about generating support for elite policies than they are about empowering people to make informed political decisions… | more |

U.S. Offensive in Latin America

Coups, Retreats, and Radicalization

The worldwide U.S. military-political offensive is manifest in multiple contexts in Latin America. The U.S. offensive aims to prop up decaying client regimes, destabilize independent regimes, pressure the center-left to move to the right, and destroy or isolate the burgeoning popular movements challenging the U.S. empire and its clients. We will discuss the particular forms of the U.S. offensive in each country, and then explore the specific and general reasons for the offensive in contemporary Latin America. In the concluding section we will discuss the political alternatives in the context of the U.S. offensive… | more |

Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the Power Politics of Bourgeois Democracy

Since February 2000, when president Robert Mugabe suffered his first-ever national electoral defeat—over a proposed new constitution—Zimbabwe has witnessed confusing debilitating political turmoil. A decade of economic decline, characteristic of the imposition of structural adjustment across Africa, preceded the rise of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Standards of living had crashed during the 1990s, the state withdrew—or priced at prohibitive levels—many social services, and the economy deindustrialized. State and private sector corruption were rife… | more |

April 2002 (Volume 53, Number 11)

April 2002 (Volume 53, Number 11)

As this special issue on the economy goes to the printer, the business press is full of the news that a mild recovery from the recession that began in March 2001 may already be in the works, as was suggested by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in testimony to Congress in late February. Whether this should prove to be the case or not, it remains true that the long-term, deepening problems of the U.S. economy are for the most part ignored in such accounts, in favor of a short-run focus on an expected cyclical upswing.… | more |

The New Face of Capitalism: Slow Growth, Excess Capital, and a Mountain of Debt

For a long time now, the U.S. economy and the economies of the advanced capitalist world as a whole have been experiencing a slowdown in economic growth relative to the quarter-century following the Second World War. It is true that there have been cyclical upswings and long expansions that have been touted as full-fledged “economic booms” in this period, but the slowdown in the rate of growth of the economy has continued over the decades. Grasping this fact is crucial if one is to understand the continual economic restructuring over the last three decades, the rapidly worsening conditions in much of the underdeveloped world to which the crisis has been exported, and the larger significance of the present cyclical downturn of world capitalism… | more |

The Argentine Crisis

Historically, monetary crises have been related to hyperinflation, from which Argentina has often suffered. Hyperinflation is generally viewed as a calamity leading to the destruction of the capitalist monetary system of circulation. In the present Argentine crisis, however, there has been a complete implosion of economic and monetary relations due to hyperdeflation. This is the strangulation of the economy by the requirement to pay an unsustainable debt… | more |

Argentina: An Alternative Proposal to Overcome the Crisis

Against the background of Argentina’s dramatic economic downfall, a meeting was held in January 2002 at the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires. The focus of the meeting was the need to work on alternative proposals to deal with the crisis… | more |

Porto Alegre 2002: A Tale of Two Forums

In large part, the increased mass media coverage and the more favorable reporting (except in the United States) were due to the presence of political notables embracing centrist positions (leading members of the French Socialist Party, representatives from the United Nations and World Bank, and leaders from the moderate/social democratic sector of the Brazilian Workers Party, etc.). The political advances and achievements of SF2002 noted in the Western European media were accompanied by a particular bias in the reporting. Most of the journalists and editors favorably quoted and featured the “serious ideas” of the more moderate notables and political leaders meeting at the Catholic University. Rarely were mass leaders and activists from popular movements quoted or shown in photographs. For example, the Financial Times (February 5, 2002, p. 8) caricatured the differences between radicals and reformists: “Behind the theatrical expressions of protest, the forum was marked by a serious exchange of ideas and proposals, such as reforms of the WTO’s intellectual property rights agreements. Most participants said they were not against globalization but for an equitable form of it with a broader international participation in decision-making” … | more |

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

In January, with no public discussion and little fanfare, Washington began the first major extension of its “war on terrorism” beyond Afghanistan by sending U.S. troops into the Philippines. The contingent of nearly 700 troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, was sent to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which consists of a number of islands and one major city, and is populated chiefly by a few million Moros (Muslim Filipinos). The mission of the U.S. forces has been to “assess” the military situation, provide military advice, and “train” the 7000 Philippine soldiers currently pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo… | more |

U.S. Military Bases and Empire

Empires throughout human history have relied on foreign military bases to enforce their rule, and in this respect at least, Pax Americana is no different than Pax Romana or Pax Britannica. “The principal method by which Rome established her political supremacy in her world,” wrote historian Arnold Toynbee in his America and the World Revolution (1962)… | more |

Understanding the Other Sister: The Case of Arab Feminism

One evening, shortly after September 11, I was conducting a college English class when one of my students asked a question about the accumulating body of information on women and Islam. It was one of many questions about the Middle East asked of me in the days after the tragedies; this one was about the veil, and why women in the Middle East “had to wear it.” I explained that not all women in the Middle East were Muslim (I myself am a Palestinian Christian), but that even many Muslim women did not veil. However, many did, and for myriad reasons: mostly for personal and religious reasons and, for some, upon compulsion… | more |

Technology and the Commodification of Higher Education

All discussion of distance education these days invariably turns into a discussion of technology, an endless meditation on the wonders of computer-mediated instruction. Identified with a revolution in technology, distance education has thereby assumed the aura of innovation and the appearance of a revolution itself, a bold departure from tradition, a signal step toward a preordained and radically transformed higher educational future. In the face of such a seemingly inexorable technology-driven destiny and the seductive enchantment of technological transcendence, skeptics are silenced and all questions are begged. But we pay a price for this technological fetishism, which so dominates and delimits discussion. For it prevents us from perceiving the more fundamental significance of today’s drive for distance education, which, at bottom, is not really about technology, nor is it anything new. We have been here before… | more |

Sweatshop Labor, Sweatshop Movement

Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take on the Global Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press, 2001), 306 pages, $18.00 paper.

The reemergence of sweatshops in the United States has taken many people by surprise. It was commonly assumed that sweatshops disappeared years ago and that their presence would no longer be accepted. This proved to be fatally wrong… | more |

Unusual Marx

Karl Marx, Kevin Andersonand Eric Plaut (editors), and Gabrielle Edgcomb (translator), Karl Marx on Suicide (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1999), 147 pages, $49.95 hardcover and $14.95 paper.

There is a rather unusual document among Marx’s writings. It is titled, “Peuchet: vom Selbstmord” (Gesellschaftspiegel, zweiter Band, Heft VII, Elberfeld, Januar 1846), and it is composed of translated excerpts from Jacques Peuchet’s Du Suicide et de ses Causes (a chapter from his memoirs). The book under review is an English translation of this document, combined with introductions by editors Kevin Anderson and Eric Plaut. As we shall see, this small and almost forgotten article by Marx is a precious contribution to a richer understanding of the evils of modern bourgeois society, of the suffering that its patriarchal family structure inflicts on women, and of the broad and universal scope of socialism… | more |

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

The meltdown of Enron, the giant energy trading firm, which recently ranked as the seventh largest U.S. corporation—now its largest ever bankruptcy—is one of the most startling events in U.S. financial history. Only a few months ago Enron was the toast of Wall Street. It was the symbol of the New Economy and of the deregulation of both finance and energy markets. Its former CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling, promoted the idea that assets were not what made a company valuable. Instead what counted was a corporation’s intellectual capital. He sold the idea of Enron as a nimble, highly-leveraged, “asset-light” company engaged in aggressive internet-based trading. The point is that this huge and highly regarded corporation did not make anything. Nor did it perform a service like distributing energy. It was in essence a purely speculative enterprise, making money through trading made possible by the deregulation of a basic consumer need (electricity). And U.S. business bought it! For six years in a row, the editors of Fortune magazine selected Enron as the “most innovative” among the magazine’s “most admired” corporations. Enron was a principal fundraising source for President George W. Bush’s electoral campaign. It was a big winner in California’s electrical deregulation crisis, which generated skyrocketing electricity prices and huge profits for big energy traders. Enron’s corporate empire was underwritten by some of the biggest U.S. banks, including J. P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup… | more |

Anti-Capitalism and the Terrain of Social Justice

Until recently, a pervasive sense of there-is-no-alternative left us with a
debilitating pessimism. Seattle was, arguably, the long-awaited antidote. Where social democracy had seen the power of capital and was cowed by it, the Seattle protesters recognized that building a decent world meant actively resisting it. In this defiant understanding that resistance creates the space for hope, the chain of protests initiated by Seattle fell in with a tradition that saw realism in historic terms, rather than in a fetishism of the present… | more |

The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism

The world changed on September 11. That’s not just media hype. The way some historians refer to 1914–1991 as the “short twentieth century,” many are now calling September 11, 2001, the real beginning of the twenty-first century. It’s too early to know whether that assessment will be borne out, but it cannot simply be dismissed… | more |

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