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Socialist Register 2009: Violence Today

Socialist Register 2009: Violence Today

Given the extent and extremity of violence today, even in the absence of world war, and two decades after the end of actually-existing socialism, it is hard not feel that we are living in another age of barbarism. The scale and pervasiveness of violence today calls urgently for serious analysis—from “the war on terror” and counter-insurgencies, from terror and counter-terror, suicide bombings and torture, civil wars and anarchy, entailing human tragedies on a scale comparable to those of the two world wars, not to mention urban gang warfare, or the persistence of chronic violence against women. That the nirvana of global capitalism finds millions of people once again just “wishing (a) not to be killed, (b) for a good warm coat” (as Stendhal is said to have put it in a different era) is, when fully contemplated, appalling. | more…

Socialist Register 2008: Global Flashpoints

Socialist Register 2008: Global Flashpoints

Since 1964, the Socialist Register has brought together leading writers on the left to investigate aspects of a common theme. Global Flashpoints: Reactions to Imperialism and Neoliberalism examines the distinguishing features of neoliberalism today as well as the prospects for the left in the Islamic world, in Latin America, and in the capitalist North. | more…

Socialist Register 2007: Coming to Terms with Nature

Socialist Register 2007: Coming to Terms with Nature

Since 1964, the Socialist Register has brought together leading writers on the left to investigate aspects of a common theme. Coming to Terms with Nature: Socialist Register 2007 examines whether capitalism can come to terms with today’s ecological challenges and whether socialist thought has developed sufficiently to help us do so. Topics include: the ecological contradictions of capitalist accumulation and the growing social conflicts they create; the relationship between imperialism, markets, oil politics, and renewable energy; the significance of the impasse over the Kyoto protocol; and how technology can overcome the “limits to growth” and yet preserve the biosphere. | more…

Violence as a Tool of Order and Change

The War on Terrorism and the Antiglobalization Movement

September 11, it is said, has changed everything. However true or not this may be—and I tend to think that it is not very true at all—one thing it certainly should have changed is the loose manner in which the adjective “violent” has been appended to recent antiglobalization protests. Especially for a conference such as this one—conceived in the wake of the Québec City events of last year and designed to shed light on the nature of the challenge posed to capitalist democracies by the new antiglobalization movement—the horrific and deadly terrorist attack on New York and Washington, D.C., and the scale of state violence unleashed—literally from on high—by the war on terrorism, certainly put this loose usage in stark perspective | more…

Panitch and Gindin Reply

At one time, a defeated left in the United States, facing the onslaught of neoliberalism in the 1980s, pointed defensively to social democracy in Europe. This reduced socialist vision was founded on a static analysis that ignored emerging capitalist contradictions, already tearing apart even the Swedish model. Exemplifying the impoverishment of this kind of thinking, James Galbraith now designates the United States as a social democratic model for Europe—even after the social safety net has been further torn by Clinton’s Democrats. This is a so-called social democracy without a social democratic party (let alone government), with the lowest levels of unionization in the advanced capitalist world, no universal public healthcare program, the largest prison population anywhere, and a lower life expectancy for blacks than in many “underdeveloped” countries  | more…

Rekindling Socialist Imagination

Utopian Vision and Working-Class Capacities

“A continental welfare state, modeled on the comparatively successfulsocial democracy of the United States. That’s the ticket. Do it the American way.” This recipe for what path Europe should follow isn’t the Economist calling for a new realism, or the voice of American imperialism talking through the Wall Street Journal, or even a stolen quote from a member of Tony Blair’s cabinet caught in private conversation. It’s the concluding lines of an article on an alternative for Europe published in the New Left Review, once the home and hope for a rejuvenation of creative Marxism  | more…

Socialist Register 2003: Fighting Identities

Socialist Register 2003: Fighting Identities

Why do racial, religious, ethnic and national identities have such purchase on the lives of so many people, and why are they still at the center of so many major conflicts at the beginning of the twenty-first century? What form is racism taking amidst the inequalities, refugees and mass migrations of today’s global capitalism? How does the American state—as both the manager of the world capitalist order and as the embodiment of an all-too-often chauvinist national identity—fit into the picture of ‘Fighting Identities’? | more…

“The State in a Changing World”

Social-Democratizing Global Capitalism?

There are two central developments that define our era. One of these is the historic failure of the socialist project of the mass working-class parties, both Communist and Social Democratic. The other is, of course, what has commonly come to be known as the “globalization” of capitalism. These two developments are certainly related to one another, but they cannot be reduced to one another. Each also has its own specific dynamics which need to be analysed separately  | more…