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Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century reviewed by Counterfire

At the end of the 1980s, the mood among anti-Apartheid activists was gloomy. Many of them considered the situation in South Africa to be as bad as ever, and chances of abolishing the racist system seemed slim. Two years later, Nelson Mandela was a free man, and a couple of years after his release, he was the first president of post-Apartheid South Africa. Robert McChesney tells this episode at the beginning of his latest book to point out a lesson of which we need to remind ourselves every so often: social change is rarely accurately predicted.… | more…

Read an excerpt from Robert McChesney’s Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century in Social Policy magazine

The major premises of the media reform movement remain unchanged: communication systems develop largely as a result of policies, since there is no such thing as a natural “default” course of development. From the development of copyright and postal subsidies for newspapers at the dawn of the Republic to the licensing of telephone, broadcasting, and cable TV monopolies, the state has been in the middle of the creation of the media. For example, the Internet’s shift from an anti-commercial, egalitarian institution in the early 1990s to a “whoever makes the most money by any means necessary wins” undertaking was not foreordained by the gods. It was the province of politics.… | more…

Blowing the Roof Off the Twenty-First Century reviewed in Too Much online

Activist University of Illinois scholar Robert McChesney has for some time now been a compelling voice on the “political economy of communication,” an emerging new discipline that’s probing how our media go about entrenching “the privileges of those at the top.” This field, McChesney argues in this engaging new book, belongs on our political center stage. Our deeply unequal social order, he explains, has simply ceased working for average people.… | more…

Labor in the Global Digital Economy by Ursula Huws

Labor in the Global Digital Economy reviewed in The Progressive Populist

Who is the cybertariat? Why care? Ursula Huws, author of Labor in the Global Digital Economy: The Cybertariat Comes of Age (Monthly Review Press, 2014), has answers as a class-based technology shapes our world. An historical continuity emerges in her writing. This approach casts context on the current moment.… | more…

Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space

Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space reviewed in New York History

Hell’s Kitchen’s tenements have long captured the attention of reformers, scholars, and the American public. In Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space, Joseph J. Varga combines a sophisticated use of critical space theory, with a nuanced investigation of social relations among residents, reformers, and state agencies, to shed light on development in this notorious neighborhood during the Progressive Era’s transformative years. Utilizing Henri Lefebvre’s understanding of space as “lived, conceived and perceived,” Varga reveals that the physical features of the area, social relationships of work and home, reform efforts, ethnic and racial alliances, and government allotment of funds played a role in creating and giving meaning to space on Manhattan’s Middle West Side.… | more…

In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself by John Marsh

Read an excerpt from In Walt We Trust on Salon

In the late 1850s, Walt Whitman wrote a series of poems celebrating what he called “manly love,” the love men had for other men. Whitman included the poems in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass under the heading “Calamus,” a plant with a suggestive, phallic-shaped flowering spike growing out of it. As I discuss in the next chapter, the exact nature of this manly love—essentially, whether it involved genitals or not—remains very much unsettled.… | more…

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May 8: NYC Benefit for AK Press

Announcing a New York City benefit for AK Press at The Brooklyn Commons, Friday, May 8, at 6:30 PM. Funds will go to AK Press to help them recover from a devastating fire in their Oakland, CA warehouse. Supporters include Haymarket Books, The Indypendent, Institute for the Radical Imagination, The Marxist Education Project, Monthly Review, Situations, and Verso Books.… | more…

Race to Revolution by Gerald Horne

Race to Revolution reviewed in Dissident Voice

No later than the Wilsonian propaganda campaign to bring ordinary US citizens and the world to support US intervention in World War I, did the inhabitants—at least the “white” ones—become convinced that not only was their nation the new Eden but that merely by virtue of being an American one was loved and/or envied throughout the world. It is crucial to mention this ideological transformation because until 1917, when the US entered the war on the side of the British elite, most inhabitants of the US could be seen as despised. Ex-slaves were despised because of their skin-colour and despite the 13th amendment, previous condition of servitude, and all the rest but the tiny in-bred colonial elite were absorbed from countries whose regimes were glad to be rid of them.… | more…

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