Thursday July 24th, 2014, 12:23 am (EDT)

Lawyers, Jails, and the Law’s Fake Bargains

Assume that Canada and the Western European countries have about the right number of people in jail. Assume that the social problem of crime is not terribly different in those countries than in the United States. Understand that our incarceration rate is five to eight times that of those other countries. If these assumptions, and this understanding, are even nearly valid, 80 percent of the people in American jails should not be there… | more |

Cruel but Not Unusual: The Punishment of Women in U.S. Prisons: An Interview with Marilyn Buck and Laura Whitehorn

The Punishment of Women in U.S. Prisons

After years of neglect, the issue of women in prison has begun to receive attention in this country. Media accounts of overcrowding, lengthening sentences, and horrendous medical care in women’s prisons appear regularly. Amnesty International—long known for ignoring human rights abuses inside United States prisons and jails—issued a report, two days shy of International Women’s Day 2001, documenting over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse of U.S. women prisoners by their jailers. However, we seldom hear from these women themselves. And we never hear from women incarcerated for their political actions… | more |

Disablement, Prison, and Historical Segregation

The story of disablement and the prison industrial complex must begin with a trail of telling numbers: a disproportionate number of persons incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are disabled. Though Census Bureau data suggest that disabled persons represent roughly one-fifth of the total population, prevalence of disability among prisoners is startlingly higher, for reasons we will examine later. While no reliable cross- disability demographics have been compiled nationwide, numerous studies now enable us to make educated estimates regarding the incidence of various disability categories among incarcerated persons. Hearing loss, for example, is estimated to occur in 30 percent of the prison population, while estimates of the prevalence of mental retardation among prisoners range from 3 to 9.5 percent… | more |

Teaching in Prison

If prisons were places people who have committed serious crimes were sent to pay a debt to society, and to be rehabilitated to return to society as healthy members of it, then at least the following things would be true. First, people who had not committed serious crimes would not be in prison at all. Drug users and persons with mental illnesses would receive treatment and would live in their communities, either at home or in safe and hospitable facilities run as public entities. Those who had committed minor criminal offences, such as shoplifting, would be given non-prison sentences involving counseling and community service. As much as possible, communities would be involved in both setting the penalties and organizing and participating in the treatment. Ironically, this was typically the case in American Indian communities, now so ravaged by the U.S. criminal injustice system… | more |

Notes from the Editors, June 2001

Notes from the Editors, June 2001

» Notes from the Editors

In response to the massive popular protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in Quebec City on April 20-21, the mainstream media has adopted as one of its favorite lines that the protesters, while frequently well meaning, are ignorant of basic economics. What this means is that the protesters are refusing to bow down before the alleged virtues of unregulated free trade. In his column on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times (April 24, 2001), Thomas Friedman quoted Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs as saying, “There is not a single example in modern history of a country successfully developing without trading and integrating with the global economy.” … | more |

A Prizefighter for Capitalism: Paul Krugman vs. the Quebec Protesters

A few weeks ago, the New York Times columnist on economics devoted his space to scolding the demonstrators at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, (April 22, 2001, Op-Ed page). The writer, Paul Krugman an MIT professor, is considered by many to be a leading light of the profession, and a likely candidate for the economics Nobel Prize… | more |

Imperialism and Globalization

p>Imperialism is not a stage, not even the highest stage, of capitalism: from the beginning, it is inherent in capitalism’s expansion. The imperialist conquest of the planet by the Europeans and their North American children was carried out in two phases and is perhaps entering a third… | more |

Credo of a Passionate Skeptic

Recently I collected a number of my prose writings for a forthcoming volume. Rereading them, it struck me that for some readers, the earlier pieces might seem to belong to a bygone era—twenty to thirty years ago. I chose to include them as background, indicating certain directions in my thinking. A burgeoning women’s movement in the 1970s and early 1980s incited and provided the occasions for them, created their ecology. But, as I suggested in “Notes Toward a Politics of Location,” my thinking was unable to fulfill itself within feminism alone… | more |

We Make the Road by Walking: Lessons from the Zapatista Caravan

Lessons from the Zapatista Caravan

Imagine Times Square filled with more than a hundred thousand people of all ages and backgrounds. Some have climbed telephone poles, others have reserved spaces on balconies. Imagine them waiting there together, peacefully, not to see the ball drop on New Years Eve, but to listen to the words of poor black women from West Virginia talking about the need for dignity and respect for poor people of all colors. Imagine Columbus, Ohio (the rough geopolitical equivalent of Iguala, Morelos in Mexico), the whole town decorated in colorful murals, posters, and flags welcoming the rural poor. Impossible? Okay, let’s say 50,000 in Times Square. Let’s say Detroit instead of Columbus. It’s still a stretch. We’re not even close. To appreciate the recent Zapatista march from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas to the plaza at the heart of Mexico City—a caravan that drew over 1,500 participants, 100,000 supporters along the way, and over another 100,000 who braved the scorching sun to welcome the Zapatistas on their arrival in the capital—you have to acknowledge the uniqueness of this event, which has no easy parallels in either U.S. or Mexican history… | more |

California’s Electrical Crisis and Conservation

Your March 2001 Notes from the Editors convincingly explains the failure of the deregulation of the electric industry to protect residential ratepayers, and the excessive profits garnered by electricity generators. However, you omitted the environmental dimension, which is like analyzing the economics of the tobacco industry without mentioning the health impact… | more |

California’s Electrical Crisis and Conservation

I spent ten days in Chiapas in January with Rachel Neumann, a friend and colleague. We met up in San Cristóbal, the colonial city of 35,000 people where the armed takeover of the town hall building on January 1, 1994, signaled the start of the Zapatista uprising. During our two days there, we were scrutinized, briefed, and credentialed by the non-governmental organization (NGO) that was sending us to do human-rights observation in a Zapatista indigenous community, and we met with several people to get a sense of the current political situation. Then we hiked up to the mercado early on a Saturday with our bags full of potatoes, pasta, peanuts, Gatorade, and water purification drops and left for the mountains in a colectivo… | more |

Telling the Story of Our America

Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America(New York:Viking Penguin, 2000), 346 pp., $27.95 cloth, $15 paper.

With passion and eloquence, Juan Gonzalez presents a devastating perspective on U.S. history rarely found in mainstream publishing aimed at a popular audience. The United States emerged in just two hundred years, he points out, as the world’s superpower and richest nation. “No empire, whether in ancient or modern times, ever saw its influence spread so far or determined the thoughts and actions of so many people around the world as our nation does today.” The majority of U.S. people don’t like to think of their country as an empire… | more |

Notes from the Editors, May 2001

Notes from the Editors, May 2001

In September 1969 Monthly Review published Margaret Benston’s article, “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation”–one of the most important early intel- lectual contributions to the current wave of feminist struggle in the United States. In the more than three decades since we have continued to publish articles by socialist feminists (along with a steady flow of important feminist texts through Monthly Review Press’ New Feminist Library) … | more |

What Happened to the Women’s Movement?

From the late 1960s into the 1980s there was a vibrant women’s movement in the United States. Culturally influential and politically powerful, on its liberal side this movement included national organizations and campaigns for reproductive rights, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and other reforms. On its radical side it included women’s liberation and consciousness raising groups, as well as cultural and grassroots projects. The women’s movement was also made up of innumerable caucuses and organizing projects in the professions, unions, government bureaucracies, and other institutions. The movement brought about major changes in the lives of many women, and also in everyday life in the United States. It opened to women professions and blue-collar jobs that previously had been reserved for men. It transformed the portrayal of women by the media. It introduced the demand for women’s equality into politics, organized religion, sports, and innumerable other arenas and institutions, and as a result the gender balance of participation and leadership began to change. By framing inequality and oppression in family and personal relations as a political question, the women’s movement opened up public discussion of issues previously seen as private, and therefore beyond public scrutiny. The women’s movement changed the way we talk, and the way we think. As a result, arguably most young women now believe that their options are or at least should be as open as men’s… | more |

Mergers, Concentration, and the Erosion of Democracy

A new surge of corporate concentration is in process in the United States and abroad, driven in large measure by a restruc- turing of global markets through mergers and acquisitions (M&A~). Announced worldwide merger deals reached $3.4 tril- lion in 1999, an amount equivalent to 34 percent of the value of all industrial capital (buildings, plants, machinery and equip- ment) in the United States in 1999. Of this total, nearly a third were cross-border transactions that involved companies based in different countries, up from an average of one-fourth of all mergers during most of the 1990s… | more |

The Queer/Gay Assimilationist Split: The Suits vs. the Sluts

The Suits vs. the Sluts

“I’ll say it loud; I’ll say it proud: I love drug companies,” HIV-positive Andrew Sullivan recently boasted in The New York Times Magazine. As one of the most visible gay journalists in the nation, the statement spoke to a core dilemma within a gay and lesbian movement split between gay assimilationists, such as Sullivan, and social justice minded queers. The question was, how had this free-market loving Tory Thatcherite become a spokesman for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) movement? Sullivan’s cavalier boast neglected the point that ACT UP, the pro-queer AIDS direct action group, had not only spent almost fifteen years fighting to get expedited approval for life saving medications, but had put their bodies on the line to get drug companies to lower prices so people could actually afford them.… | more |

Notes from the Editors, April 2001

Notes from the Editors, April 2001

» Notes from the Editors

p>It was just over a year ago that we asked John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney to serve as acting co-editors of Monthly Review, with a view to having four co-editors. Although Foster and McChesney were naturals for undertaking this responsibility—they are longtime MR contributors and MR Press authors—the type of collegiality necessary to make a publication like MR tick is delicate and difficult to predict. We therefore thought it desirable that they be “acting” co-editors, to provide for a trial period. In the past year we have worked together in a truly collective way, published some of our best issues, and circulation has grown at a rapid pace. In addition to political economy and socialist education, John and Bob have opened MR up to new areas where we are now on the cutting edge. John is among the three or four leading environmental sociologists, and Bob holds similar distinction as a media and communications scholar. Moreover, both John and Bob have been active in radical movements for much of the past two decades. There is a lot of ballyhoo nowadays about public intellectuals. In John and Bob we have two of the very best of the breed. To top it off, they are genuinely warm and loving individuals with whom everyone enjoys working. MR’s morale has not been this high in a very long time. We are thus happy to announce that these two younger friends and colleagues are joining us as permanent—no longer “acting”—co-editors of Monthly Review… | more |

The New Economy: Myth and Reality

Myth and Reality

In the last few years the idea of a “New Economy” has gained wide currency, almost rivaling “globalization” as a neologism that characterizes our era. Thus The Economic Report of the President, 2001, begins: “Over the last 8 years the American economy has transformed itself so radically that many believe we have witnessed the creation of a New Economy.” This New Economy is seen, first and foremost, as consisting of those firms and economic sectors most closely associated with the revolution in digital technology and the growth of the Internet. The rapid convergence of information technologies—including computers, software, satellites, fiber optics, and the Internet—has, it is believed, fundamentally altered the economic landscape. Since the mid-1990s, these revolutionary technological developments have, it is argued, spilled over into the wider economy, generating higher productivity growth, a sustained acceleration of economic growth, lower unemployment, lower inflation, and an attenuation of the business cycle… | more |

New Economy…Same Irrational Economy

What can we say about the assertion that there is a “New Economy”? That depends on what we mean by this term. It is nonsense to claim, and few do any more, that the business cycle has been eliminated or that the contradictions of capitalism have been resolved. In 2000 we witnessed a massacre of technology and Internet stocks ending what many considered the country’s biggest financial mania of the past hundred years. The NASDAQ lost over half of its value, a paper loss of 3.33 trillion dollars, the equivalent of a third of the houses in the United States sliding into the ocean, as one Wall Street wag tells us. While only a few months ago, all we heard about was the magic of the market and that crises are the result of bad government policies, whether “crony” capitalism or simply failure to make information available to markets in a full and timely fashion, and that the new information technology now makes markets even more efficient; all of this talk is now shown to be the usual exaggeration we find in the up stage of most long expansions. As in the past it disappears as the economy weakens. Indeed as inventories pile up the nature of capitalism becomes clear to even the financial press and the politicians… | more |

The “New” Economy and the Labor Movement

A New Economy? Today, we hear a lot of talk about the New Economy, much of it unsubstantiated and hyperbolically stated. In the United States, for example, consumers are supposedly concerned, as never before, with high-quality goods and services tailored specifically to their individual needs. Rapidly changing technology continually creates new, high-quality products, so consumer needs are perpetually changing as well. This rapid change places new demands on businesses. They must be maximally flexible, capable of changing product lines quickly, and able at all times to meet discerning and highly individualized consumer needs. Everything must be geared to customer satisfaction; a firm that does not quickly and consistently please its customers will lose business sooner than at any time in the past. The tremendous range of choices available means that customers will not be loyal to any company that cannot offer speedy gratification. Recently an Internet book company opened that promised same-day delivery! … | more |