Saturday November 1st, 2014, 2:58 am (EDT)

Restoring Memory

Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files (New York: Dial Press, 1999), 564 pp., $26.95.

It is fitting that the “Atomic Century” draw to a close with the publication of The Plutonium Files. A decade in the making, Eileen Welsome’s book explores the secret human radiation experiments that grew out of the U. S. atom bomb program. Carried out under the auspices of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the Department of Energy’s predecessor, the experiments were designed to help determine atom bomb plant safety standards and to replicate nuclear battlefield conditions. As a result, thousands of hospital patients and servicemen were unknowingly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation … | more |

February 2000 (Volume 51, Number 9)

February 2000 (Volume 51, Number 9)

Isaac Deutscher once said that, in dealing with some questions, Marxists have to wear gloves. If memory serves, he was talking particularly about the nationalisms of the oppressed.… | more |

The Necessity of Gangster Capitalism

Primitive Accumulation in Russia and China

The Russian bank laundering scandal in the newspapers last fall is only the latest installment in the ongoing saga of corruption coming out of the former Soviet Union. The more important question is: where did they get the money in the first place? How, for example, did the former Premier of the Ukraine manage to buy a seven million dollar mansion in Marin County, California, on his official salary of a few thou- sand dollars a year? The answer is only too apparent: Moscow’s gangster rule has become so well known that the term “Mafia” has lost its exclusively Italian connotation. China is not much better … | more |

Overcoming Racism

Recently, there has been a great deal of discussion about the racism of white workers. Unfortunately, little has been said or written about how white working-class racism can be overcome. In this essay, I examine a prison uprising in which black and white convicts struggled with racism and overcame it to a surprising degree … | more |

Kosovo and “the Jewish Question”

Whether or not it is true, as Vaclav Havel famously claimed, that NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia represents the first war to be waged “in the name of principles and values,” the first “ethical war,” it might well be the case that it is the first act of armed aggression against a sovereign state whose popular legitimization relied almost wholly upon an alleged historical analogy. NATO spokespersons and apologists could not allude often enough to the Second World War,Hitler, and the Nazi regime’s persecution of the Jews. They did this in lieu of providing reasoned justification for NATO’s action, perhaps because under existing international law there was surely no such
justification to be found … | more |

Remembering Murray Levin

I suspect that many on the U.S. left do not know the name of Murray Levin—political scientist, writer, teacher—who died at the age of seventy-two in late 1999. It would be hard to characterize his politics in simple terms; “socialist,” “radical,” “progressive?” In the thirty-five years I knew him, including twenty-four years as his close friend and colleague at Boston University, there was never any occasion to describe him in any of those ways … | more |

Notes from the Editors, January 2000

Notes from the Editors, January 2000

» Notes from the Editors

Our Assistant Editor, Vicki Larson, was in Seattle for the demonstrations against the WTO. We are pleased, indeed proud, to present Vicki’s account of these very important events … | more |

The World Trade Organization? Stop World Take Over

On November 30,1999, when the World Trade Organization (WTO) opened its third round of ministerial meetings, the three thousand official delegates, two thousand journalists, and other registered observers were greatly outnumbered by the tens of thousands of protesters who came from all over the world to denounce the organization. Estimates of protester numbers ranged to forty thousand, according to the Seattle Times, which told its readers that the demonstrations were larger than those of 1970, when twenty to thirty thousand people (ten thousand according to the Seattle Times) shut down Interstate 5 to protest the Vietnam War. The parallel is appropriate. The still-growing movement in opposition to efforts of institutions such as the WTO to take over the management of the international economy may well be larger than any popular protest movement of the last twenty years or more.… | more |

The Blair Kitsch Project

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it was not simply the Soviet Union or the “communist idea” or the efficacy of Marxist solutions that collapsed. Western European social democracy, too, was severely dented. In the face of a triumphalist capitalist storm that swept the world it, too, had to trim its sails. The fact that, barring Spain, social democratic parties or coalitions govern most of Western Europe today is of inter- est largely because of the collective experience it provides: these parties can no longer deliver effective policies that improve the conditions of the majority of electors whose votes have placed them in power. Capitalism, unchallenged from any quarter, no longer feels the need to protect its left flank by conceding reforms… | more |

The Need for a Radical Alternative: An Interview with István Mészáros

Interview with István Mészáros

From the modern vision, the great revolutions, the anti-Nazi war, to the collapse of socialism in East Europe and to the sovereignty of the market, what do you think about the twentieth century—the “century of extremes” as Hobsbawm calls it?… | more |

Us Versus Them

Laboring in the Academic Factory

Consider the following items culled from some of the journals, newspapers, and email discussion groups to which I subscribe: … | more |

Letter to Leonard Peltier

In 1975, Leonard Peltier was convicted of the murder of two government agents after a violent confrontation on the Oglala reservation that pitted the American Indian Movement (AIM) and local Sioux against law enforcement officers. Two other AIM members were acquitted in a separate trial, but Peltier received two consecutive life sentences. The trial is the subject of the documentary film Incident at Oglala (1975). February 6, 2000, marks Peltier’s twenty-fourth year in prison. Information about his case can be found at www.lpsg-co.org, or by contacting the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, PO Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044, USA. The following letter was first published on the Internet by the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico (NCDM), based in Austin, TX
December 1999 (Volume 51, Number 7)

December 1999 (Volume 51, Number 7)

Recently, we were talking about the environment to a well-known sociologist and got into a fairly heated debate about the ecological effects of capitalism. He insisted that capitalism has nothing to do with it. All human practices, he said, inevitably affect the natural environment and have done so since the dawn of history. This seemed to us a pretty simplistic and ahistorical argument … | more |

Global Economic Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, and the Philippines

The economic crisis that has been affecting the global economy for the last two and a half years started in East Asia. We’ve heard story after story about the problems in Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and even Japan—but we’ve heard almost nothing about the situation in the Philippines. Is there something that the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank don’t want us to know about the situation there? … | more |

APEC at Auckland

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the name for a series of meetings that has taken place in various Asian and Pacific capitals since 1989. For September of this year, the venue was Auckland, a city of a million people in the North Island of New Zealand. According to Joan Spero, U.S. Undersecretary for Economic Affairs, “APEC is about business not about governments;” however, the role of governments has been crucial. In the past, laws and regulations used to protect economies had to be revoked by governments, if untrammelled entry of trade and investment was to take place. And getting rid of barriers erected by governments is what APEC is all about. It is part of the attack—by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—on those economies that try to maintain some degree of autonomy in the face of capital’s demand for open entry everywhere… | more |

Competition and Class

A Reply to Foster and McNally

The postwar economy is widely understood to have gone through two major phases. During the long boom between the end of the 1940s and the early 1970s, most of the advanced capitalist economies (outside the United States and the United Kingdom) experienced record-breaking rates of investment, output, productivity, and wage growth, along with low unemployment and only brief, mild recessions. But during the long downturn that followed, the growth of investment fell significantly, resulting in much-reduced productivity growth, sharply slowed wage growth (if not absolute decline), depression-level unemployment (outside the United States), and a succession of serious recessions and financial crises. My goal in The Economics of Global Turbulence was to explain why the long boom gave way to a long downturn, to reveal why stagnation has persisted on an international scale for such an exceedingly long period, and finally to demonstrate how the failure to resolve the problems underlying the long downturn opened the way to the world economic crisis of 1997-1998 … | more |

Marxism Human Nature, and Social Change

Sean Sayers, Marxism and Human Nature (London: Routledge, 1998), 203pp., paperback

At a time when politicians, academics, and media pundits celebrate the demise of Marxism as a credible school of thought, and hegemonic “postisms” (e.g., poststructuralism, postfeminism, post-Marxism) have succeeded in producing a generation of young academics for whom everything (themselves included) is “socially constructed” and open to “deconstruction,” in an endless game of shifting identities and “stories,” a book about Marxism and human nature seems hopelessly outdated. It is, however, precisely at this time that this book should be welcome, not only because it is full of illuminating insights that dispel many common stereotypes about Marx and Marxism, but also (and most importantly) because it demonstrates how Marx’s theory of human nature, and its social and moral implications, offer a necessary alternative to the current “antinomies of bourgeois thought” (e.g., essentialism vs. anti-essentialism; humanism vs. antihumanism; determinism vs. social constructionism). (I have borrowed this phrase from Georg Lukacs in History and Class Consciousness.) … | more |

November 1999 (Volume 51, Number 6)

November 1999 (Volume 51, Number 6)

Notes from the Editor

We’ve been discussing among ourselves exactly what we want to achieve with these Notes from the Editors, and our conclusion is that we want to leave the objectives of the Notes as open-ended as they always have been. Over the years, they have been everything from editorials about some pressing current event, to news about the MR community, or reflections on something we’ve read, including correspondence from our readers. What these all have in common is that they give us a chance to make more or less current comments on things that have happened or things we’ve been thinking about since the last issue … | more |

A Poetics of Anticolonialism

Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism might be best described as a declaration of war. I would almost call it a “third world manifesto,” but hesitate because it is primarily a polemic against the old order bereft of the kind of propositions and proposals that generally accompany manifestos. Yet, Discourse speaks in revolutionary cadences, capturing the spirit of its age just as Marx and Engels did 102 years earlier in their little manifesto. First published in 1950 as Discours sur le colonialisme, it appeared just as the old empires were on the verge of collapse, thanks in part to a world war against fascism that left Europe in material, spiritual, and philosophical shambles. It was the age of decolonization and revolt in Africa, Asia, and Latin America… | more |

Are New Trade Wars Looming?

I have agreed to talk on the question “Are New Trade Wars Looming?” The answer is yes, but I must also tell you that I think this is the wrong question. What we are really interested in is why trade wars occur and where the economic philosophy we call protectionism comes from. A major cause of the worldwide war and depression that crippled much of the first half of the twentieth century was imperialism and the rivalry of nations for trade, commodities, raw materials, and labor—this produced protectionism. I want to suggest the special importance of finance capital in this process, both earlier in the twentieth century and now. Rather than worrying about trade wars, we should concentrate on the power of capital’s control over our political economy, especially the role of international financiers … | more |

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