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Volume 52, Issue 04 (September)

September 2000 (Volume 52, Number 4)

Notes from the Editors

In the United States, the creation of wealth is often presented as a process that benefits everyone within the society. A common shibboleth, made famous during the Kennedy administration, is that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” In June 2000, the Conference Board, an organization devoted to the promotion of global business and one of the leading private centers for the analysis of economic statistics, released a report actually entitled Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? The report concludes: “Unfortunately, the answer to date is ‘no ’” | more…

Socialism: A Time to Retreat?

Some wags claim that it is the conservatives who fear socialism, while the radicals believe that capitalism will last forever. Conservatives, they say, fear widespread popular discontent, while radicals abandon hope of a revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. An exaggeration? Of course. Even so, this witticism is not inappropriate. Many on the left have indeed retreated from class and a vision of a democratic, egalitarian socialism. The important social issues of our day—race, gender, and the environment—more often than not are divorced from the role of class structure. The rule of the capitalist class and the class struggle are shoved to the back burner. Whether consciously or not, the implicit assumption underlying the retreat from class is that capitalism will somehow or other go on and on as it creates miraculous new technology. Best then to stick to making those adjustments in social conditions that the system will presumably allow  | more…

Marx’s Ecological Value Analysis

Paul Burkett, Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 312 pp., $45, hardcover.

If there is a single charge that has served to unify all criticism of Marx in recent decades, it is the charge of “Prometheanism.” Although Marx’s admiration for Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound and his attraction to Prometheus as a revolutionary figure of Greek mythology has long been known, the accusation that Marx’s work contained at its heart a “Promethean motif,” and that this constituted the principal weakness of his entire analysis, seems to have derived its contemporary influence mainly from Leszek Kolakowski’s Main Currents of Marxism. The first volume of this work was drafted in Polish in 1968 and appeared in English in 1978. | more…

Fathers and Sons

Tony Hiss, The View from Alger’s Window: A Son’s Memoir (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1999), 241 pp., $24, hardcover.

The View from Alger’s Window is a fascinating book. Even if the father and son who share the stage in this memoir were completely anonymous, it would still be an absorbing story. Probably for most readers, however, and surely for almost all Monthly Review subscribers, the father’s name will reverberate with what Jack Gelber’s Nation review describes as a Nixon-manipulated “story of well-timed leaks, stage-managed press conferences, masterful misleading language.” But as the author himself says, a major objective of his work is to “transform Alger Hiss from a case to a person.” This he has certainly done  | more…

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