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

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 Man Who Fell From the Sky

Race and Mystery in Cape Cod

This article will be released in full online November 25, 2019.

In Bill Fletcher Jr.’s first novel, The Man Who Fell from the Sky, the sleepy Cape Cod town of Osterville has blood on its hands. In this murder mystery, Fletcher digs through layers of racism in Southern Massachusetts to uncover more than the killer’s identity. The novel compellingly exposes the racism of society, turning its victims against each other. | more…

Monthly Review Volume 71, Number 5 (October 2019)

October 2019 (Volume 71, Number 5)

Notes from the Editors

New issue of Monthly Review! If there is one thing that is clear about the economic situation in the mature capitalist economies, as we write these notes in mid-August 2019, it is that the financial world is increasingly running scared and looking for safe havens, worrying about the storm clouds ahead. There is now little doubt that the world economy is on the verge of a recession after a long sluggish recovery from the Great Financial Crisis of 2007-09. In itself this should not give occasion to surprise. In this instance, however, there lurks a bigger fear, the possibility of a financial Armageddon on the level of the Great Financial Crisis of 2008—or worse. | more…

After a month of nonstop developments, protests have continued in the island

A Duel of Dreams

Naomi Klein’s The Battle for Paradise (Haymarket, 2018) describes a duel of dreams for post-Hurricane Mar’a Puerto Rico. On the one hand, networks of resistance and resilience sprang up around the island in the wake of the collapse of not just trees and houses, but infrastructure and government. On the other, a small group of super rich speculators and futurists were poised to cash in on what Puerto Rico’s then-Governor Ricardo Rossell—ó described as an opportunity to “sort of restart and upgrade” a nation he shamelessly called a “blank canvas.” Rossell—ó— was forced out of office on July 24, 2019, by mass protests, in large part thanks to the networks of resistance and resilience that came to life when the government essentially disappeared after the 2017 hurricanes. | more…

Marta Harnecker

A New Revolutionary Subject

Monthly Review and Monthly Review Press author, world socialist activist, and theorist of revolution, Marta Harnecker, died on June 15, 2019, at age 82. In her memory, we republish an exchange between her and Greek journalist Tassos Tsakiroglou, conducted in advance of the 2017 conference on 150 Years of Marx’s Capital: Reflections for the Twenty-First Century. | more…

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

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

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…