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Socialist Register 2011: The Crisis This Time

Socialist Register 2011: The Crisis This Time

The global economic crisis that closed the first decade of the 21st century has demonstrated that the contradictions of capitalism cannot be overcome. The challenge for socialist analysis is to reveal both the nature of these contradictions in the neo-liberal era of globalized finance, and their consequences in our time. Crises need to be understood as turning points that open up opportunities. How to facilitate this is the sharpest challenge posed to socialists by the most severe global economic crisis since the 1930s. | more…

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…

Leo Panitch

Renewing Socialism

Does it make any sense to speak in terms of socialist renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century? The massive anti-capitalist protests from Seattle to Prague to Quebec that captured the world’s attention at the beginning of the new millennium attest to the fact that the spirit of revolution, one of the central facets of political life over the previous centuries, is hardly a thing of the past. If “the revolutionary spirit of the last centuries, that is, the eagerness to liberate and to build a new house where freedom can dwell, [which] is unprecedented and unequaled in all prior history” properly begins with the bourgeois revolutions of the late eighteenth century, few would dispute that this eagerness for fundamental social transformation was in very large part carried into the world of the twentieth century by socialism’s revolutionary aspirations to transcend the capitalist order itself. | more…

Socialist Register 2006: Telling the Truth

Socialist Register 2006: Telling the Truth

Since 1964, the Socialist Register has brought together leading writers on the left to investigate aspects of a common theme. Telling the Truth: Socialist Register 2006 examines how contemporary social and political debate is structured, how ideas and ideologies come to inform policy making, research, education, and our conceptions of truth more generally. | 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…

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