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Capitalism also Depends on Domestic Labour

“She Was My Kind of Scientist”

Margaret Benston and the Political Economy of Women's Liberation

In the late 1960s, the North American women’s liberation movement was reaching a highpoint of activity, its militancy complemented by a flourishing literature. This was the environment into which Margaret Benston’s 1969 Monthly Review essay, “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation,” struck like a lightning bolt. At the time, many in the movement were describing women’s situation in terms of sociological roles, functions, and structures—reproduction, socialization, psychology, sexuality, and the like. In contrast, Benston proposed an analysis in Marxist terms of women’s unpaid labor in the family household. In this way, she definitively shifted the framework for discussion of women’s oppression onto the terrain of Marxist political economy. | more…

A Wages for Housework march in 1977

On Margaret Benston

The Political Economy of Women's Liberation

This article will be released in full online September 22, 2019.

Margaret Benston’s “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation” appears as both a return to the past and, at the same time, if not a “watershed,” as described by Peter Custers, certainly a new turn. On the one hand, she reiterated the classic Marxist-Leninist argument concerning the precapitalist, premarket character of domestic work. On the other, she so strongly insisted on the importance of this work for the stability and perpetuation of the capitalist system that she not only anticipated some of the theses later argued by theorists in the Wages for Housework Campaign, but often fell into apparent contradictions. | more…

Kathleen Cleaver, Black Panther Party Headquarters 1969

Mapping Gender in African-American Political Strategies

This article will be released in full online September 22, 2019.

Gender is not just about women; it is about the social relationship between men and women and the dialectical, reciprocal, and cultural construction of femininity and masculinity. Recognition of a unique historical experience concerning gender informs the perspectives of African Americans of various political persuasions. This history incorporates a land of origin with certain common principles about gender and family. It also encompasses the African-American experience in the United States where the denial of many “protections” offered by gender roles and indeed sometimes inversion of such roles was a means of maintaining control. Hence asserting the right to assume gender-based roles of husband, father, wife, and mother paradoxically was an act of resistance. The manner in which African-American people have envisioned relationships of gender in light of that history has expressed itself in markedly different forms. | more…

A swastika painted on a wall in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Preemptive Counterrevolution and the Rise of the Far Right in Brazil

During the 2018 Brazilian presidential elections, almost thirty years after the first democratic elections since the military dictatorship, Jair Bolsonaro took on the role of supposed underdog and, in the face of the collapse of the other center and right-wing bourgeois candidates, became the only one capable of countering the risk of the victory of the Workers’ Party. Bolsonaro, or the captain, as he is frequently called by his acolytes, is a sort of Donald Trump of the periphery—a second-rate Trump. Though he appears to be the most radical critic of the system, he is, in fact, the very image of the status quo, in all its brutality and rawness. | more…

Protest against Michel Temer, São Paulo, Brazil (August 2016)

Contemporary Challenges for the Working Class and Peasantry in Brazil

In Brazil, there have been two recent parliamentary coups against the Workers’ Party and in favor of banks and corporations. Dilma Rousseff was impeached in 2016 and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was prevented from running for president, sequestered, and imprisoned. The electoral coups have resulted in a government without a social base in most of Brazilian society. It does not have a project for the majority or for the nation. It is just a project for international capital, dominated by banks and global corporations. This has led to a government made up of many nuclei of power that, despite internal contradictions, remain in agreement as a unit with regard to the project of capital. | more…

Planning from Below: A Decentralized Participatory Planning Proposal by Marta Harnecker and José Bartolomé

Planning from Below: A Decentralized Participatory Planning Proposal

Political scientist, author, and activist, Marta Harnecker has devoted her life to collaborating in building radical democracy in Latin American communities where people have, for generations, experienced crushing poverty and a near complete loss of control over their lives. In South America and the Caribbean, but especially in Cuba and Venezuela, Harnecker has worked directly with disenfranchised workers and peasants. From the ground up, she has helped to build new structures and methods that bring to virtually unknown towns and provinces the full meaning of the Bolivarian revolution. In this latest work, Harnecker, with Spanish economist José Bartolomé, shares some of her wisdom on how this is being done, and how communities everywhere can gain empowerment. | more…

Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music by Gerald Horne

Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

The music we call “jazz” arose in late nineteenth century North America—most likely in New Orleans—based on the musical traditions of Africans, newly freed from slavery. Grounded in the music known as the “blues,” which expressed the pain, sufferings, and hopes of Black folk then pulverized by Jim Crow, this new music entered the world via the instruments that had been abandoned by departing military bands after the Civil War. Gerald Horne’s Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music examines the economic, social, and political forces that shaped this music into a phenomenal U.S.—and Black American—contribution to global arts and culture. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 2 (June 2019)

June 2019 (Volume 71, Number 2)

The situation in Venezuela has become extremely dire due to Washington’s heightened economic warfare, its continuing attempts to engineer a political coup, and its growing threats of massive military intervention—all aimed at bringing down the Bolivarian Republic. The recent seizure of Venezuelan oil assets in the United States and its gold reserves in British banks, as well as the sanctioning of Venezuelan oil sales, have come on top of a long series of economic sanctions—beginning with the Obama administration and now intensified under Trump’s—that constitute nothing less than a modern form of siege warfare, extended to food supplies and medicine. But the Venezuelan Revolution has managed to resist in the face of the economic and political warfare of the most powerful imperialist nation in the world, and the reasons why are to be found in the nature of the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan people themselves. | more…

The Punishment Monopoly: Tales of My Ancestors, Dispossession, and the Building of the United States

Forthcoming in November 2019

Why, asks Pem Davidson Buck, is punishment so central to the functioning of the United States, a country proclaiming “liberty and justice for all”? The Punishment Monopoly challenges our everyday understanding of American history, focusing on the constructions of race, class, and gender upon which the United States was built, and which still support racial capitalism and the carceral state. After all, Buck writes, “a state, to be a state, has to punish … bottom line, that is what a state and the force it controls is for.”  | more…

The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology

Forthcoming in January 2020

Twenty years ago, John Bellamy Foster’s Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature introduced a new understanding of Karl Marx’s revolutionary ecological materialism. More than simply a study of Marx, it commenced an intellectual and social history, encompassing thinkers from Epicurus to Darwin, who developed materialist and ecological ideas. Now, with The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology, Foster continues this narrative. In so doing, he uncovers a long history of efforts to unite issues of social justice and environmental sustainability that will help us comprehend and counter today’s unprecedented planetary emergencies. | more…