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2008

Who Really Won the Space Race?

Last October’s anniversary of the launch of the Sputnik artificial satellite has led to much discussion as to who won the space race. Usually it is argued that the United States unproblematically “won.” But this is a very simplistic picture and one that should be challenged. Above all, the focus on nations “winning” or “losing” needs to be rejected. It is the rich and powerful who are doing the winning. And they can come from any country. | more…

The Future of Nuclear Power

Regardless of how attractive it may seem or how hard the Bush administration promotes the interests of his nuclear power industry supporters, electricity from nuclear fission is still so hampered by the problem of high-level waste disposal, that any building of new plants would be a serious mistake.…Recent technical advances are still grossly inadequate, and the future of nuclear power, as we know it, is very poor at best. | 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…

Proper Disposal of Hazardous Ideas: An EPA-Isador Nabi Bulletin

(For authorized persons only. If you do not know whether you are an authorized person then you are probably not, and should stop reading right here.)

The office of Occupational Safety and Health has ruled that the proper disposal of hazardous materials is required under regulation 1.848 section b of the Clean Minds Act. Our lawyers have ruled that in academic settings hazardous ideas can be included under these regulations because although they are not obviously materials, as Marx wrote, ideas become a material force when they grip the masses. When they haven’t gripped the masses they may still be regarded as hazardous materials under the talmudic principle of building a wall around the Torah: something already is what it may potentially become in the wrong hands and may be treated as such. Thus a centrifuge might concentrate uranium and therefore is practically a nuclear weapon, or teaching geography in a Bad Country may train children to pick targets. | more…

The War for Control of the Periphery

Steven Hiatt, ed., with introduction by John Perkins, A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption (San Francisco: BK Currents, 2007), 310 pages, paper $24.95.

Just before John Perkins, author of the bestselling Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, decided it was no longer possible to remain silent about his intimate involvement in the economic warfare waged against the Global South, he sat despondently before the ruins of Ground Zero, totally incapable of visualizing the tragedy: all he could see was a U.S. contractor delivering millions of dollars of weapons to the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. Perkins understood himself—a former economic advisor for a multinational utilities contractor, similar to Bechtel—and others like him, to be products of a “system that promotes the most subtle and effective form of imperialism the world has ever witnessed.” Mainstream commentators addressing Perkins’s book ignored the vivid recounting of his own personal involvement as an economic hit man. This is undoubtedly because Perkins used this experience to emphasize the substantial connections between U.S. intelligence agencies, multinational corporations, and political elites of the Global South, laying bare the true motives of “development.” As an “economic hit man,” Perkins fabricated nearly every economic forecast he was asked to produce—as his bosses clearly expected him to do. This led him to repeatedly attack U.S. economic dogma in Confessions | more…

January 2008 (Volume 59, Number 8)

Notes from the Editors

The victory of the No vote in the Venezuelan constitutional reform referendum in December is being treated by Washington as a major defeat for Chávez’s efforts to promote a socialism for the twenty-first century in Venezuela. But the opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution was so aware of its own weaknesses that it adopted as its final slogan “Chávez, Yes; Reform, No.” The defeat of the constitutional reform was guaranteed by the fact that 44 percent of the population, many of whom had supported Chávez previously, chose not to vote. This may simply be due to the fact that the proposed constitutional reforms were enormously complex with changes in 69 articles. But it is also true that a propaganda campaign authored and choreographed by Washington and the CIA, and implemented by the Venezuelan elites who control the private media, had a considerable effect in blocking the reform effort. | more…

The Injuries of Class

We live in a complex, divided society. We are divided by wealth, income, education, housing, race, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. These divisions are much discussed; in the last two years, there have been entire series in our major newspapers devoted to the growing income divide. The wealth-flaunting of today’s rich was even the subject of a recent Sunday New York Times Magazine article (“City Life in the New Gilded Age,” October 14, 2007). | more…

Against the Market Economy: Advice to Venezuelan Friends

I am here to salute you—because you are attempting to do what nobody has ever succeeded in doing before—help autonomous groups of workers and consumers plan their interrelated activities democratically, equitably, and efficiently themselves. You have already created the elements of what you call the “social economy”—worker-owned cooperatives, communal councils, municipal assemblies, participatory budgeting, subsidized food stores, health care clinics, and nuclei of endogenous development. Now you want the cooperatives and communal councils to display solidarity for one another rather than treat each other as antagonists in commercial exchanges. And sooner rather than later you want the benefits of this kind of participatory, socialist economy to encompass the entire economy and all Venezuelans. | more…

Living the 11th Thesis

When I was a boy I always assumed that I would grow up to be both a scientist and a Red. Rather than face a problem of combining activism and scholarship, I would have had a very difficult time trying to separate them. | more…

Labor Market ‘Reform’ in Australia: The New Industrial Relations Law and the Elections

For the first time in decades, the role of the state in industrial relations became a central issue in an election in an English-speaking first-world nation-state. The Australian election of November 24, 2007, resulted in an emphatic win for the Labor Party opposition led by Kevin Rudd. It was the second largest winning margin since the Second World War. | more…

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