Saturday November 1st, 2014, 12:50 am (EDT)

The Political Economy of the Twentieth Century

The twentieth century came to a close in an atmosphere astonishingly reminiscent of that which had presided over its birth—the “belle époque” (and it was beautiful, at least for capital). The bourgeois choir of the European powers, the United States, and Japan (which I will call here “the triad” and which, by 1910, constituted a distinct group) were singing hymns to the glory of their definitive triumph. The working classes of the center were no longer the “dangerous classes” they had been during the nineteenth century and the other peoples of the world were called upon to accept the “civilizing mission” of the West… | more |

A Question of Place

On February 29, 2000, a first grader in the Buell Elementary School in Flint took a semi-automatic rifle to school and fatally shot his classmate, six-year-old Kayla Rolland. Since then, there have been countless stories about the tragedy in the media. Those I have read or heard have focused on the chaos in the boy’s family and/or guns in the home and community. All have avoided saying that Buell School is in Flint. Instead they have located it in “Mt. Morris Township, somewhere near Flint ”… | more |

Alienation in American Society

Marx’s ideas on alienation, which had been ignored for a long time, have become quite fashionable in recent years. Frequently they are even overemphasized at the expense of other concepts of Marx, in particular, his economic concepts. This trend is sometimes due to the attempt to make Marx respectable and to win new supporters for him, especially in intellectual circles which show some interest in socialism but are still reluctant to accept the Marxian analysis of our society. These people are often told: Don’t worry about the later Marx, who wrote the Critique of Political Economy and Capital, and who was so tactless as to develop the theory of exploitation… | more |

May 2000 (Volume 52, Number 1)

May 2000 (Volume 52, Number 1)

In this issue, we reprint Albert Einstein’s article “Why Socialism?,” from vol. 1, no. 1 of MR (May 1949). Normally this would require no comment on our part, as it has become something of an MR tradition to run this essay in our May issue. This year, however, there are two special circumstances that require some discussion. The first is Time magazine’s treatment of Einstein’s political views in its December 31, 1999, issue on “Albert Einstein: Person of the Century.” The second is the recent release, on the FBI’s web page, of Einstein’s FBI file to the general public … | more |

Working-Class Households and the Burden of Debt

It is an old axiom, common to both Marxian and Keynesian economics, that uneven, class-based distribution of income is a determining factor of consumption and investment. How much is spent for consumption goods depends on the income of the working class. Workers necessarily spend almost all of their income on consumption, with relatively little left over for savings or investment. Capitalists, on the other hand, spend only a small percent- age of their income for personal consumption. The overwhelming proportion of the income of capitalists and their corporations is devoted to investment … | more |

More Form than Substance

Press Coverage of the WTO Protests in Seattle

The mainstream U.S. news media have been shifting rightward for at least two decades, as their corporate owners enforce tighter ideological conformity. Oliver North and Pat Buchanan, for example, are now regular commentators on television talk shows. And all of the media now refer to people as “consumers,” cogs in a capitalist machine. But still, news is less than half as profitable as entertainment, and media firms are intensifying pressures on their “news properties” for higher profits, which means the pursuit of upscale demographics. … | more |

How the United States Exports Managed Care to Third-World Countries

In December 1999, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner from South Africa, gave the keynote address for an important conference in Miami Beach: the International Summit of Managed Care. The price for attending this conference, excluding travel, room, and meals, was $1395. The conference was sponsored by the American Association of Health Plans and the Academy for International Health Studies, and was targeted at “chief executive officers, presidents, board chairs, chief financial officers, directors of marketing, and business development officers.” In addition to Tutu, ostensibly progressive participants at the meeting included former Congressman Ron Dellums, whose legislative efforts for a U.S. national health service have inspired health activists since the mid-1970s. Dellums took part in his new role as president of Healthcare International Management … | more |

James Galbraith, Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin

In the early summer of 1999, libertarian John Stossel from ABC Television interviewed me at length on my views of unemployment and inequality in Europe and the United States. In the end, only a tiny video bite aired. In it, I stated that I did think Europeans might learn something from recent U.S. experience. Stossel portrayed this as a conversion to his own free-market views. It was a gross misinterpretation of the views I actually hold, as was quickly pointed out by the advocacy group FAIR, and eventually also in a story on Stossel by Brill’s Content early this year … | more |

Panitch and Gindin Reply

At one time, a defeated left in the United States, facing the onslaught of neoliberalism in the 1980s, pointed defensively to social democracy in Europe. This reduced socialist vision was founded on a static analysis that ignored emerging capitalist contradictions, already tearing apart even the Swedish model. Exemplifying the impoverishment of this kind of thinking, James Galbraith now designates the United States as a social democratic model for Europe—even after the social safety net has been further torn by Clinton’s Democrats. This is a so-called social democracy without a social democratic party (let alone government), with the lowest levels of unionization in the advanced capitalist world, no universal public healthcare program, the largest prison population anywhere, and a lower life expectancy for blacks than in many “underdeveloped” countries … | more |

Seeing the Forest and the Trees: The Politics of Rachel Carson

Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson, edited and with an introduction by Linda Lear (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), 288 pp., $16, paperback.

Lost Woods brings Rachel Carson back into the public realm. This collection of her writings, selected by her biographer, Linda Lear, reminds us yet again of the extraordinary range of her talents and the equally extraordinary use to which she put them. The book offers, in one modest volume, a taste of all the pleasures to be found in Carson’s longer works. Through a careful choice of speeches, articles, field notes, and letters, presented in chronological order, Lear allows us to witness, in Carson’s own words, her transformation from a natural scientist to a political advocate for the environment … | more |

April 2000 (Volume 51, Number 11)

April 2000 (Volume 51, Number 11)

This space has, from its earliest years, been devoted to MR affairs, viewing the readers as part of a larger family. Recently, we began to use the space for commentary on political and economic developments also. The occasion of Paul’s 90th on April 10, however, calls for something very different. If you guess that this will be a love letter, you are not mistaken. I have long wanted to express publicly my feelings about Paul. A review of his contributions to knowledge and theoretical analysis about capitalism and socialism would require a long essay. I prefer to say a few words about him as my friend and comrade … | more |

Monopoly Capital at the Turn of the Millennium

Economic analysts, as everyone knows, have widely differing views on the way the economy works. The single most important division lies between right and left—a division that has its roots in class. But even among those on the left there are areas of sharp disagreement. One of these is over the centrality of the Keynesian revolution to the development of economics. Did the revolution in economic thought, associated with thinkers such as Keynes and Kalecki, teach things that Marxist political economists should view as essential? Another disagreement is over the role of monopoly and competition. How central is the concentration and centralization of capital to our understanding of the workings of capitalism today—a full century after Marxists and other radicals first raised the question of monopoly capitalism? Whatever one’s abstract theory is—and all theories by definition rely on a degree of abstraction—its usefulness lies in its capacity to make sense of everyday reality, while providing the strategic analysis necessary for practical revolutionary solutions … | more |

Cars and Cities

In Marxist theory the treatment of technology has generally referred to production, the means of production, the character of the labor process, and related matters. This follows the example set by Marx himself in his justly famous chapter on machinery and modern industry in Volume 1 of Capital which occurs in the part devoted to the production of relative surplus value. Neither there nor anywhere else in Capitalis there any discussion or analysis of the impact of technology on consumption and via consumption on processes of capital accumulation and social development … | more |

Sweezy v. New Hampshire: the Radicalism of Principle

The Radicalism of Principle

Before the founding of Monthly Review, Paul Sweezy had been an instructor at Harvard and the author of germinal works on the American economy. But his teaching and writing were always accompanied by vigorous engagement with the political movements of the time: he helped organize the Harvard Teachers’ Union, taught economics at the leftist Samuel Adams School in Boston, and, in 1948, took a leading role in Henry Wallace’s presidential run on the pro-New Deal and anti-Cold War Progressive Party ticket in his home state of New Hampshire. As he often did, Sweezy combined his support of the Wallace third party challenge with his ongoing advocacy of socialism … | more |

Statement to the New Hampshire Attorney General

What follows is Paul Sweezy’s statement defying the New Hampshire Attorney General’s inquiry into his political views and associations, as it appeared in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sweezy v. New Hampshire, June 17, 1957 (354 U.S. 234).

The Editors… | more |

Happy Birthday, Paul!

In honor of Paul’s 90th birthday, we asked a number of people from different walks of life—trade unionists, radical activists, academics, and longtime friends—to write short tributes to Paul … | more |

March 2000 (Volume 51, Number 10)

March 2000 (Volume 51, Number 10)

What do Helmut Kohl and Elián Gonzáles have in common? What could possibly unite the destinies of the huge former Chancellor of Germany, who for so many years dominated European politics and played the part of senior statesman on the global stage, and the little boy whose only political role so far has been as pawn in the hands of fading right-wing Cuban fanatics in Miami? … | more |

After Seattle

Understanding the Politics of Globalization

The “Seattle Shock”-as Business Week called it in an editorial that warned of a popular backlash against “our very economic system”-reflects heartfelt indignation by the financial press at the intrusion of mass democracy into an elite discourse. In the New York Times, columnist Thomas Friedman raged at anti-World Trade Organization (WTO) protesters, whom he presents as “flat-earth advocates” duped by knaves like Pat Buchanan. Friedman, perhaps the most obtuse of the big-time columnists, complains that “What’s crazy is that the protesters want the W.T.O. to become precisely what they accuse it of already being-a global government … | more |

The Third Way

Myth and Reality

What is the Third Way? Both historically and in the contemporary world, there are numerous examples of political leaders and movements that declare their allegiance to a Third Way—defining alternatives in opposition to what they perceive to be dominant paradigms. In the contemporary world, the best known exponent of the Third Way is British Prime Minister Tony Blair, though a number of other political leaders in Europe and elsewhere have expressed sympathy or support for the rhetoric or substance of Blair’s version of the Third Way … | more |

Rekindling Socialist Imagination

Utopian Vision and Working-Class Capacities

“A continental welfare state, modeled on the comparatively successfulsocial democracy of the United States. That’s the ticket. Do it the American way.” This recipe for what path Europe should follow isn’t the Economist calling for a new realism, or the voice of American imperialism talking through the Wall Street Journal, or even a stolen quote from a member of Tony Blair’s cabinet caught in private conversation. It’s the concluding lines of an article on an alternative for Europe published in the New Left Review, once the home and hope for a rejuvenation of creative Marxism … | more |

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