Race in contemporary Cuba is a delicate and hotly contested issue. What most agree is that pre-1959 Cuba was characterized by a stark racial inequality which, rooted in a relatively recent history of slavery (abolished only in 1886), was addressed after January 1959 by legally eliminating its more evident institutional manifestations, by a social program which particularly benefited those at the bottom of the old social structure, and by a mass emigration which initially was predominantly (83.5%) white. More recently, we know that after the 1990s’ traumatic crisis (following the Soviet and socialist bloc collapse) and the unprecedented changes to counter that crisis (including increased tourism and toleration of the U. S. dollar), inequality partly returned, as remittances from relatives abroad disproportionately benefited whites.
Reconstructing Lenin is a thoughtful and compelling study of Lenin. Tamás Krausz reveals Lenin as an activist revolutionary whose thoughts were shaped by immediate political events but who also at the same time never strayed far from a coherent theoretical framework. As a work of scholarship it deserves to be up there with Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered.
Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates have recently identified a political point of entry that has the potential to galvanize wide public support and focus political discussion and debate on the most glaring (historical) weaknesses of capitalism as a mode of production and to begin to nudge public awareness toward the deep contradictory ontology that is capitalism.
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.
To his credit, the first African-American president, Barack Obama, recently took a bold step towards normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba, thereby challenging a decades-long failed policy intent on isolating the island nation. Undoubtedly, with this change in U.S. foreign policy, there will likely be a renewed interest in both nations’ shared history.
That an African American took the initiative in spearheading this long overdue policy change is also important, as it is only the most recent illustration of a unique relationship between Blacks in the “slaveholders’ republic” and their African kin in Cuba, the renowned slave depot and former Spanish colony
The 21st century has witnessed a significant revival of interest in the ideas of Karl Marx among both the general public and left-leaning academics. No doubt this reflects a desire among many to examine solutions from the greatest and best-known critic of the system to capitalism’s recurrent bouts of economic contraction and social polarisation. There has been a notable lack of concomitant interest, however, in one of the few figures within the Marxist canon who can rival the founder for breadth and depth of analysis.
Available for the first time in English, the essays collected in Esteban Morales Domínguez’s “Race in Cuba” describe the problem of racial inequality in Cuba, provide evidence of its existence, constructively criticize efforts by the Cuban political leadership to end discrimination, and point to a possible way forward. To buy his book, use the coupon code BOM715 and receive 35% off at check out.
Lebowitz explores the obvious but almost universally ignored fact that as human beings work together to produce society’s goods and services, we also “produce” something else: namely, ourselves. Human beings are shaped by circumstances, and any vision of socialism that ignores this fact is bound to fail, or, at best, reproduce the alienation of labor that is endemic to capitalism. But how can people transform their circumstances in a way that allows them to re-organize production and, at the same time, fulfill their human potential? Lebowitz sets out to answer this question first by examining Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme, and from there investigates the experiences of the Soviet Union and more recent efforts to build socialism in Venezuela. He argues that socialism in the twenty-first century must be animated by a central vision, in three parts: social ownership of the means of production, social production organized by workers, and the satisfaction of communal needs and communal purposes. These essays repay careful reading and reflection, and prove Lebowitz to be one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of this era.
Few figures loom larger in the making of the first, late 1950s, New Left than E.P. Thompson and C. Wright Mills. Both were big. Both fit uneasily, to say the least, in the company of any established intelligentsia.
Who cares any more about Lenin? Time was, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) was revered, at least in some quarters, as the founding father of the Soviet Union, head of the first revolutionary state, pioneer in building socialism to end capitalist exploitation and create a better world. In the Soviet Union, Stalin overshadowed him for a few decades, while claiming loyal discipleship. But then, in the thaw following Stalin’s death in 1953, Lenin was reinvoked as a corrective to Stalin’s excesses, the man who had offered the true socialist model.
Acts of violence assume many forms: they may travel by the arc of a guided missile or in the language of an economic policy decision that contaminates drinking water, and they may leave behind a smoldering village or a starved child. The all-pervasive occurrence of violence makes it seem like an unavoidable, and ultimately incomprehensible, aspect of the human world, particularly in a modern era. But, in this detailed and expansive book, Marc Pilisuk and Jennifer Rountree demonstrate otherwise. Widespread violence, they argue, is in fact an expression of the underlying social order, and whether it is carried out by military forces or by patterns of investment, the aim is to strengthen that order for the benefit of the powerful.
You are almost certainly reading this review on a computer screen, on a mobile device, tablet, laptop or PC. It’s probably one of many, many things you’ll read onscreen today. Some of your uses of new technology will be for leisure, recreation and education, and some will be work-related. The information, communication and technology industry (ICT) is all around us, almost like air or water.
Gerald Horne’s new volume casts light on a ‘special relationship’ which is often ignored or forgotten: that of the United States and pre-revolutionary Cuba. Horne, a Marxist historian whose work has covered a multiplicity of themes including race, empire, revolution and communism, has been committed to the study of narratives and topics excluded from the (particularly US) mainstream. He describes the manner in which academic historians have generally dealt with communist history, for instance, as ‘incredibly biased, one-sided, deeply influenced by the conservative drift of the nation’.
Monthly Review Press author Steve Early first met Bernie Sanders in 1976 during a Vermont political campaign. Today, writing in Jacobin magazine and interviewed on Alternative Visions radio, Early reflects on how organized labor should respond to Sanders’s bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
The ‘left’ has been reborn many times over the last two centuries. Every renewal has carried with it traditions from past phases, with greater or lesser degrees of continuity, while establishing new relations and alliances in response to the changing structures of capitalism. This can be seen in the transition between radical Jacobinism and early forms of socialism, or between the Chartist movement and later nineteenth-century trade-union and socialist movements, and in other moments in the history of working-class politics. E. P. Thompson was a figure who both recaptured these transitions in his historical writing, and participated in a major re-orientation of left politics after the Soviet Union’s suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956.