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Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 11 (April 2020)

April 2020 (Volume 71, Number 11)

Today, at the bicentennial of Frederick Engels’s birth, it is worth taking a brief look at Engels’s theory of the labor aristocracy, its connection to V. I. Lenin’s thinking, and the significance of these ideas in light of the current capitalist conjuncture. | more…

New this week!
Workers at a mine in Knockmahon, County Waterford, Ireland in 1906

The Rift of Éire

Karl Marx’s (and Frederick Engels’s) analysis of nineteenth-century Irish history revealed what is referred to as “the rift of Éire” in the colonial period. Indeed, it is in relation to the analysis of the systematic disruption of the Irish environment that Marx’s ecological inquiries can be seen as taking on a concrete and developed form, encompassing the ecological as well as economic robbery that characterized the Irish colonial regime. | more…

New this week!
A man in a wheelchair is seen amid tear gas during a protest against Chile's government in Santiago, Chile, November 5, 2019

How Long Can Neoliberalism Withstand Climate Crisis?

The climate crisis is proving to be antithetical to the neoliberal machines that define current forms of social organization. Reducing fossil fuel consumption, the largest contributor to climate change, requires collaborative efforts. These efforts must take into consideration the foundational role of fossil fuels in modern economies. Yet, renewables lack many of the characteristics that have made fossil fuels so desirable in production processes, limiting their ability to expropriate human labor. At the same time, climate catastrophes, such as wildfires and hurricanes, disrupt the infrastructural momentum of fossil fuel economies, destabilizing the mechanisms of capital accumulation that derive from the production and consumption of these fuels. All of these problems have come to a head in the recent crises in Chile and California. | more…

Tractor factory in the Soviet Union in 1972

Crisis of Socialism and Effects of Capitalist Restoration

This article will be released in full online April 13, 2020.

The main criticism leveled at the socialist economies was that a planned economy was inherently less efficient than a market one, due to the sheer scale of the bureaucratic task involved with planning a major economy. But the collapse of the Soviet and later the Russian economy under Mikhail Gorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin was an economic disaster that was otherwise unprecedented during times of peace. The world’s second superpower was reduced to the status of a minor bankrupt economy with a huge decline in industrial production and in living standards. | more…

Democracy, Planning, and Big Data

Democracy, Planning, and Big Data

A Socialism for the Twenty-First Century?

This article will be released in full online April 20, 2020.

Starting in the late 1960s, the development of the productive forces of society entered a new stage: the Information Revolution, an era focused on the application of information theories such as cybernetics combined with advances in computer technology and digital communication networks, culminating in the Internet. Under capitalist conditions, this has already resulted in a knowledge economy, but the social, auto-regulatory possibilities it opens up are bound to be incompatible with the private appropriation characteristic of capitalism. | more…

Chevron refinery fire in Richmond, VA in August 6 2012

Dead Labor

This article will be released in full online April 20, 2020.

My pop was always working on our house, a shack that was all my parents could afford in the great hunger for homeownership that came after the Second World War. But nothing ever quite got finished, either for lack of funds or motivation. But if he wasn’t quite a craftsman himself, he admired craft. He was moved by the effort and intricacy of how things were made. ‘Honey, look at this old wooden chest with these lovely silver handles. Think of all the work that was done to this thing by someone’s hands.’ | more…

Labor leader Clinton Jencks (center) in the fictionalized film "Salt of the Earth"

The Legacy of Clinton Jencks

This article will be released in full online April 27, 2020.

In 1950, the mainly Mexican and Mexican-American members of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Local 890 went on strike against Empire Zinc in southern New Mexico. One of the only fair-haired and pale-skinned union men in meetings and jail was Mine Mill organizer Clinton Jencks. Raymond Caballero’s study, McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks, exhaustively details how the federal government brought the entire weight of its repressive apparatus down on the heads of Jencks, his family, and his union siblings. | more…

Health Care Under the Knife Moving Beyond Capitalism for Our Health

Health Care for Profit (Not Health)

A Sick System

This article will be released in full online April 27, 2020.

Health Care Under the Knife, a collection of essays under the editorship of Howard Waitzkin, presents a vigorous critique of health within the context of capitalism, examining the extent to which the economy and its relations of production determine how health is socially distributed, the conditions of medical practice, and the structural organization of health systems. Rather than considering health as primarily a biomedical phenomenon and health systems as autonomous institutions, the volume recognizes the intricate fundamental relationship between health and the wider political, economic, and sociological context. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 10 (March 2020)

March 2020 (Volume 71, Number 10)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy is experiencing an unemployment rate that is at a fifty-year low. Yet, wage growth continues to be weak, with continuing wage stagnation even at the peak of the business cycle. A major and largely undertheorized reason for the sluggish wages in a period of seeming full employment is to be found in the fact that the new jobs being created by the economy do not measure up to those of the past in terms of weekly wages and hours, or in the degree to which they support households or even individuals. | more…

Hyman Minsky

Hyman Minsky at 100: Was Minsky a Communist?

Since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09, Hyman Minsky (1919–96) has been widely recognized as one of the late twentieth century’s most insightful economic theorists. Nevertheless, if Minsky had still been alive at the time of the Great Financial Crisis, there would have been little likelihood that his new-found reputation would have resulted in his receiving the Nobel Prize in Economics given his heterodox and socialist economic views. | more…