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Monthly Review Volume 52, Number 4 (September 2000) [PDF]

Socialism—A Time to Retreat?

The Perspective of 'Monthly Review' at the Opening of the Twenty-First Century

This article will be released in full online May 27, 2023.

In this reprise from September 2000, Harry Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Robert W. McChesney look forward to the future of Monthly Review in the twenty-first century: “Despite mistakes, setbacks, and recognition that the road is long and arduous, we must not waver as we continue to study, educate, and be missionaries for the transcendence of the social system of capitalism and the development…of a society of equals.” | more…

A gas pipeline burns after a collision with a barge and the tugboat Shannon E. Setton near Perot Bay in Lafourche Parish, LA on March 13, 2013

The Ecological Crisis of Capitalism and Human Survival

In this remarkable reprise reprinted from Monthly Review‘s October 1992 issue, Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy look ahead to the ecological crisis that has continued to unfold into the twenty-first century. Presaging the critical juncture at which we find ourselves today, they write that “only a change in the in the nature of power structures on a global scale could bring a realistic hope for the long-term continuation of human civilization…. If you think that is true, what do you think are the implications?” | more…

The Political Tragedy of Capitalist Rule

In this prescient article from 1995, former MR editors Harry Magdoff and Paul M. Sweezy show that, through their own profligacy, the ruling classes have lost their capacity for political rule. The way forward, Magdoff and Sweezy write, is an “organized, militant struggle,” and with victory necessarily leading to the overthrow of capitalist rule. | more…

Isabel Crook and Harry Magdoff

Whither China?

An Exchange from 2002–⁠03

In December 2002, Isabel Crook, a Canadian anthropologist who had spent most of her life in China and a longtime friend and supporter of Monthly Review, wrote a letter to the MR editors questioning the critical nature of coverage of China’s capitalist road to socialism since the ascendance of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. This short exchange with Harry Magdoff reflects the complex ways in which dedicated socialists sought to address changes in China and the clarity of the ideas expressed. | more…

The Communist Manifesto: 150th Anniversary Edition

A Note on the Communist Manifesto

This reprise of Harry Magdoff’s 1969 “A Note on the Communist Manifesto” remains as relevant as ever—perhaps even more so. While capitalism by its very nature lives by accumulation and geographic expansion, it does so in a most unequal fashion. Even though nothing in economics follows strict mathematical rules, there are notable tendencies produced by the inner springs of capitalism. An outstanding example of such a tendency is found in the distinct and marked widening of the gap between a handful of rich nations and the rest of the world. The accelerating globalization of our times demonstrates this polarization in no uncertain terms. | more…

The New Stage of Globalization

By the end of 1990, foreign direct investment—that is, investment in manufacturing, real estate, raw materials, extraction, financial institutions, etc., made by capitalists of all lands outside their national borders—reached over $1.5 trillion…. [W]hat is significant about this number is not only its size but the unprecedented speed with which it has grown in the last two decades: the amount directly invested in foreign lands nearly tripled in the 1980s alone…. This upsurge and diversification of globalization has been introducing new economic and political features in the countries of both the periphery and the core. In the periphery, foreign capital has penetrated more widely and deeply than ever before. In the core, this change of direction has helped produce in the world’s key money markets an extraordinary spiraling of credit creation, international flows of money capital, and speculation. | more…

Primitive Accumulation and Imperialism

To mark the centenary this year of the birth of Harry Magdoff, born August 21, 1913, Monthly Review is publishing the following talk found in his papers, and originally entitled “Primitive Accumulation.” The precise date and occasion of the talk is unknown. However, an inspection of the contents suggests that it was probably delivered not long after the publication of Arghiri Emmanuel’s article “White-Settler Colonialism and the Myth of Investment Imperialism,” in the May–June 1972 issue of New Left Review, and before the publication of Magdoff’s long article, “Colonialism: European Expansion Since 1763,” which appeared in the fifteenth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica late in 1974. It appears that the audience was aware in advance of the two topics to be discussed: Marx’s treatment of “So-Called Primitive Accumulation” in volume 1 of Capital and Emmanuel’s article on “White-Settler Colonialism.”

Capitalism and the Fallacy of Crude Underconsumptionism

The question of “underconsumptionism” is a tangled one—due not only to the commonplace fallacy associated with what is known as “crude underconsumptionism,” but also because the term has been used at various times to refer to what Joseph Schumpeter in his History of Economic Analysis called “non-spending” or effective demand theories (the second in a typology of underconsumption theories designated by Schumpeter). Underconsumption in this sense, however, would encompass theorists like Keynes and Kalecki who focus not on underconsumption per se, but on underinvestment. Hence, the term is no longer applied to theories of this type (except by some Marxian critics of “underconsumptionism”).… In the following exchange with Jonathan Penzner published in the April 1982 issue of Monthly Review, Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy, then editors of the magazine, pointed to the fallacy of crude underconsumptionism.

Financial Instability: Where Will It All End?

The recession that began in the second quarter of 1981 (the second in two years) dragged on into 1982. Most observers look for some recovery in the second half of the year, but hardly anyone expects it to be vigorous. Meanwhile, all the typical signs of stagnation continue to be in evidence. The official unemployment rate which stood at 7.6 percent in 1981 rose to 9.5 percent by the middle of 1982, and the manufacturing capacity utilization rate fell from 79.9 percent to 69.9 percent in the same period.… The counterpart to this stagnation in the realm of production and employment was a continuing ballooning of the financial superstructure of the economy which, as the essays in this volume have been at pains to emphasize, has been one of the most spectacular features of capitalist development during the post-Second World War period. | more…

No Nukes!

Considerations of Environmental Protection Criteria for Radioactive Waste, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation Programs, Waste Environmental Standards Program, Washington, D.C. 20460, February 1978.

Most government reports make dull reading, and this one is no exception. But it contains a message which needs to be taken in by everyone even minimally concerned about the future of the human race. That message, quite simply, is that there is not and cannot be a safe program for disposing of radioactive wastes. The reasons are basically simple, do not depend on any complicated scientific arguments, and cannot be refuted or made irrelevant by any conceivable increase in scientific knowledge or technological capability. They can be summed up in a series of quotations from the report. | more…