Wednesday August 27th, 2014, 4:59 pm (EDT)

Notes from the Editors

Notes from the Editors

March 2003 (Volume 54, Number 10)

March 2003 (Volume 54, Number 10)

In the 1920s Andrew Mellon, who served as secretary of the treasury under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover (it was sometimes said that they served under him), introduced a series of gargantuan tax cuts culminating in what was known as the Mellon Plan. This consisted of a huge cut in the income tax rates of the rich along with reductions in other taxes paid by the wealthy. High income tax rates, Mellon claimed, “tend to destroy individual initiative and enterprise and seriously impede the development of productive enterprise.” When Mellon’s foes, such as the great Progressive Senator Robert La Follette, declared that Mellon was trying to “let wealth escape” its fair share of taxation, he sought to turn the tables on them by charging that they were engaging in class warfare. “The man who seeks to perpetuate prejudice and class hatred,” the treasury secretary stated, “is doing America an ill service. In attempting to promote or defeat legislation by arraying one class of taxpayers against another, he shows a complete misconception of the principles of equality on which the country was founded” … | more |

February 2003 (Volume 54, Number 9)

February 2003 (Volume 54, Number 9)

On December 19, 2002 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that the 12,000 page document that Iraq delivered to the United Nations on December 7, listing its secret weapons programs together with any dual use agents that could be used in proscribed weapons systems, contained significant omissions. It thus constituted, in the view of the Bush administration, a further “material breach” in Iraq’s obligations under current U.N. resolutions. All of this was meant to add to Washington’s case for waging a war on Iraq, ostensibly in order to “disarm” it… | more |

 January 2003 (Volume 54, Number 8)

January 2003 (Volume 54, Number 8)

“The American health care system is confronting a crisis.” This was the not very surprising conclusion of a study by a National Academy of Science panel on the U.S. health care system, carried out at the request of the administration and released in November 2002 www.nap.edu/books/0309087074/html. The report, entitled Fostering Rapid Advances in Health Care, describes conditions that are little short of horrendous. Health care costs are increasing at an annual rate in excess of 12 percent. The insured are receiving far fewer benefits while paying much more in out-of-pocket expenses. States in fiscal trouble are cutting benefits for Medicaid and other health programs. The number of uninsured has climbed to 41.2 million or 14.5 percent of the U.S. population. This means that one in seven individuals in the United States lacks any health care coverage whatsoever, and many more have inadequate coverage. A quarter of U.S. children aged to nineteen to thirty-five months are deficient in immunizations. Tens of thousands of individuals die every year from medical errors and many more than that from injuries caused by the health system… | more |

December 2002 (Volume 54, Number 7)

December 2002 (Volume 54, Number 7)

Among the major countries of the world, the United States has the highest per capita income, and it is often assumed therefore that the ordinary American is materially better off than his or her counterpart anywhere else in the world. In fact, this proposition is practically taken for granted within U.S. national culture, since it is constantly being drummed into our ears by the media and educational institutions. Yet, as a logical proposition it is simply false. This was recently pointed out by Paul Krugman, a leading mainstream economist and columnist for the New York Times, in an article (“For Richer,” New York Times Magazine, October 20, 2002) dedicated to explaining exactly why this national myth is mistaken. “Life expectancy in the U.S.,” Krugman observes, “is well below that in Canada, Japan and every major nation in Western Europe. On the average, we can expect lives a bit shorter than those of Greeks, a bit longer than those of Portuguese. Male life expectancy is lower in the U.S. than it is in Costa Rica”… | more |

November 2002 (Volume 54, Number 6)

November 2002 (Volume 54, Number 6)

On September 10, of this year, an interview entitled, “Nelson Mandela: The U.S.A. is a Threat to World Peace,” appeared as a Newsweek web exclusive, http://www.msnbc.com/news/806174.asp. In this interview, Mandela reviewed some of the history of U.S. interventions in the Middle East—including U.S. support of the Shah of Iran, which led to the Islamic revolution in 1979, and U.S. arming and financing of the mujahedin in Afghanistan, which led to the rise of the Taliban. He went on to say, “If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace. Because what [America] is saying is that if you are afraid of a veto in the Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries. That is the message they are sending the world. That must be condemned in the strongest terms.” Later, on September 16, when Washington condemned as mere duplicity Iraq’s offer to allow unconditional inspection of its weapons facilities by U.N. inspectors, and again threatened war, Mandela asked: “What right has Bush to say that Iraq’s offer is not genuine? We must condemn that very strongly. No country, however strong, is entitled to comment adversely in the way the U.S. has done. They think they’re the only power in the world. They’re not and they’re following a dangerous policy. One country wants to bully the world” (Guardian, September 19, 2002)… | more |

October 2002 (Volume 54, Number 5)

October 2002 (Volume 54, Number 5)

In late August and early September a number of MR and Socialist Register authors (including Patrick Bond, John Bellamy Foster, Gerard Greenfield, Naomi Klein, and John Saul) participated in forums in Johannesburg related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. On August 24, they joined in a march led by antiprivatization activists from the black townships (in particular by Trevor Ngwane and Virginia Setshedi—whose role in the struggle in South Africa is discussed in Ashwin Desai’s new MR Press book, We Are the Poors). The march was organized to protest the arrest and jailing of political activists. The marchers lit candles and proceeded peacefully but were met within minutes by the South African police who exploded percussion grenades, injuring three of the protestors. The harsh and unprovoked actions of the police on this occasion pointed to the increasingly antipopular character of the South African state, which is imposing neoliberal economic policy on the society. It also underscored the repressive measures now commonly utilized at world summits in general. We will address the Johannesburg summit and the economic and environmental problems of southern Africa in an upcoming issue of MR… | more |

September 2002 (Volume 54, Number 4)

September 2002 (Volume 54, Number 4)

The growth and eventual bursting of financial bubbles is an inherent feature of capitalist accumulation, as can be seen in the long history of such crises from the South Sea Bubble of the early eighteenth century to the financial blowouts of the present day. In the first half of the summer a dramatic bubble-bursting decline in the U.S. and European stock exchanges wiped out the stock market gains of the previous five years—a period characterized by manic speculation… | more |

July-August 2002 (Volume 54, Number 3)

July-August 2002 (Volume 54, Number 3)

Fifty-four years ago when MR was being planned, one of the questions that the editors, Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, had to decide was whether to have a section at the back of the magazine on literature and the arts, what in publisher’s parlance is called “the back of the book.” The MR editors decided not to do so, mainly for practical reasons. They did not feel that they had the necessary knowledge and training to do a good job editorially with such cultural material, and they felt sure that in the circumstances that the U.S. left then found itself they could not count on the support of enough serious socialist critics to sustain an arts section meeting the same standards as MR as a whole. In 1963, the first of these conditions changed temporarily, when Frances Kelly, who had been Business Manager of the New Left Review in London and whose special field of competence was the arts, came to work with the MR editors as Assistant and then Associate Editor. Under Frances Kelly’s editorship, MR published a cultural supplement called Review 1 as an experiment in 1965… | more |

June 2002 (Volume 54, Number 2)

June 2002 (Volume 54, Number 2)

In the May issue of MR, we published an article by James Petras, written in March, entitled “The U.S. Offensive in Latin America.” The article raised the issue of an impending military coup in Venezuela, then being actively promoted by Washington, aimed at replacing the democratically elected president Hugo Chávez with what the Bush administration had already been publicly calling a “transitional government” (or, as Petras termed it, a “transitional civic-military junta”). “Washington,” Petras wrote, “is implementing a civil-military approach to overthrow President Chávez in Venezuela….U.S. strategy is multiphased and combines media, civic, and economic attacks with efforts to provoke fissures in the military, all aimed at encouraging a military coup.” The object of the coup, from Washington’s standpoint, was threefold: to regain control of Venezuela’s oil industry which accounts for 15 percent of U.S. oil imports, to eliminate the indirect support that Venezuela has been giving to guerrillas in Colombia and to insurgent forces in Ecuador, and to put an end to Chávez’s attempt to break away from the imperialistic network—Venezuela’s step toward independence… | more |

May 2002 (Volume 54, Number 1)

May 2002 (Volume 54, Number 1)

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Monthly Review Press. The idea of starting a book publishing arm of MR had its origin in an accidental meeting in Central Park in 1951 between noted journalist I.F. Stone, then a reporter and columnist of the leftist New York Daily Compass, and MR editors Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy. Stone told Huberman and Sweezy that he had written a book disputing the official history of the Korean War but had not been able to find a publisher in that era of fervent McCarthyism and war hysteria. They asked to see the manuscript, and on its strength decided to establish Monthly Review Press. The Hidden History of the Korean War, the very first book published by Monthly Review Press, was released in May 1952… | more |

April 2002 (Volume 53, Number 11)

April 2002 (Volume 53, Number 11)

As this special issue on the economy goes to the printer, the business press is full of the news that a mild recovery from the recession that began in March 2001 may already be in the works, as was suggested by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in testimony to Congress in late February. Whether this should prove to be the case or not, it remains true that the long-term, deepening problems of the U.S. economy are for the most part ignored in such accounts, in favor of a short-run focus on an expected cyclical upswing.… | more |

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

March 2002 (Volume 53, Number 10)

In January, with no public discussion and little fanfare, Washington began the first major extension of its “war on terrorism” beyond Afghanistan by sending U.S. troops into the Philippines. The contingent of nearly 700 troops, including 160 Special Forces soldiers, was sent to the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which consists of a number of islands and one major city, and is populated chiefly by a few million Moros (Muslim Filipinos). The mission of the U.S. forces has been to “assess” the military situation, provide military advice, and “train” the 7000 Philippine soldiers currently pursuing the guerrillas of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) operating in the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo… | more |

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

February 2002 (Volume 53, Number 9)

The meltdown of Enron, the giant energy trading firm, which recently ranked as the seventh largest U.S. corporation—now its largest ever bankruptcy—is one of the most startling events in U.S. financial history. Only a few months ago Enron was the toast of Wall Street. It was the symbol of the New Economy and of the deregulation of both finance and energy markets. Its former CEO, Jeffrey K. Skilling, promoted the idea that assets were not what made a company valuable. Instead what counted was a corporation’s intellectual capital. He sold the idea of Enron as a nimble, highly-leveraged, “asset-light” company engaged in aggressive internet-based trading. The point is that this huge and highly regarded corporation did not make anything. Nor did it perform a service like distributing energy. It was in essence a purely speculative enterprise, making money through trading made possible by the deregulation of a basic consumer need (electricity). And U.S. business bought it! For six years in a row, the editors of Fortune magazine selected Enron as the “most innovative” among the magazine’s “most admired” corporations. Enron was a principal fundraising source for President George W. Bush’s electoral campaign. It was a big winner in California’s electrical deregulation crisis, which generated skyrocketing electricity prices and huge profits for big energy traders. Enron’s corporate empire was underwritten by some of the biggest U.S. banks, including J. P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup… | more |

January 2002 (Volume 53, Number 8)

January 2002 (Volume 53, Number 8)

The U.S. news media coverage of the current war has again drawn attention to the severe limitations of our journalism, and our media system, for a viable democratic and humane society. The coverage has effectively been stenography to those in power, and since the Democrats have offered dismal resistance to or even interrogation of the war policies, uncomfortable facts that undermine enthusiasm for the war, and the broader wave of militarism it is part of, appear only briefly on the margins. Dissident opinions, as they do not come from elite quarters, are all but nonexistent in the premier media outlets. The most striking admission of the propaganda basis of U.S. journalism came from CNN, when it insisted that its domestic coverage of the war be sugarcoated so as not to undermine popular enthusiasm for the war, while its international coverage would regard the United States in a more critical manner; i.e. exactly as credible journalists should regard it… | more |

December 2001 (Volume 53, Number 7)

December 2001 (Volume 53, Number 7)

For a long time radicals have characterized the electoral systems in capitalist societies as “bourgeois democracies.” At times, this term has been used in a strictly pejorative sense, to dismiss any electoral work as inconsequential or merely a device for legitimating capitalism in the eyes of the poor and working class. Our view of left electoral work is less doctrinaire; we think there is an important place for such activity as a part of a broader socialist organizing agenda, though the degree of importance in any particular instance varies depending upon many factors. We also think that such a categorical dismissal of electoral politics misses the critical significance of the term “bourgeois democracy.” It means an electoral system in which the rule of capital—i.e. bourgeois social relations—is taken as a given, and the range of electoral debate is strictly limited, never challenging the class basis of society… | more |

November 2001 (Volume 53, Number 6)

November 2001 (Volume 53, Number 6)

MR is not a news magazine. As a monthly magazine with limited resources we are not able to keep up with headline events as they happen. Nor do we believe that this should be our role. Rather our job is to provide thoroughgoing critical analysis, which normally takes time. In the face of the events of September 11, however, we have put together this issue devoted to the terrorist attack and the war crisis in a state of great urgency; a task made more difficult by the fact that our New York location has meant that all of those who work at MR were personally affected somehow by the attack on the World Trade Center. The result of these efforts is before you. The purpose of this issue, we should add, is not so much to address the events of September 11 themselves, as to look at how the heavy hand of the U.S. imperial system is coming down in retaliation (U.S. military strikes in Afghanistan have just begun as we go to press), the need to prevent a global slaughter, and the long–term consequences… | more |

October 2001 (Volume 53, Number 5)

October 2001 (Volume 53, Number 5)

The fact that the vested interests in the United States are able to rely on a well-oiled propaganda system, in which the media dutifully play their appointed role, is perhaps nowhere clearer today than in the case of Social Security privatization. From the standpoint of the establishment the truth simply will not do. If the truth were presented on Social Security, that is, if there were a responsible and independent press hammering away at the truth, against the obscene manipulation of the facts by the establishment, there would be no Social Security “crisis” and no substantial public support for even partial privatization. The idea of the failure of Social Security is a classic case of propaganda by the elite aimed at manipulating the minds of the people. … | more |

September 2001 (Volume 53, Number 4)

September 2001 (Volume 53, Number 4)

The Economist (June 23, 2001) contained an item that we thought would interest and amuse MR readers. Under the title “More Tomatoes, Please,” it humorously observed: It’s tough being a world leader these days. Once upon a time, you could meet a couple of your counterparts in some pleasant seaside town, forge a union or divide a continent over dinner, and then issue a grateful public with a photograph and a communiqué….… | more |

 July-August 2001 (Volume 53, Number 3)

July-August 2001 (Volume 53, Number 3)

As many of you know, we sent out an emergency appeal two months ago to raise $100,000 to make up for a cash deficit. We found ourselves in the paradoxical position of having experienced the largest increase in magazine circulation last year in more than a decade, while looking at a bank account that was pointing toward empty. MR’s very existence was threatened. The problem arose in part because we were without an editor for MR Press for over a year. As a result, book schedules were delayed and new projects put on hold… | more |

June 2001 (Volume 53, Number 2)

June 2001 (Volume 53, Number 2)

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 |