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Monthly Review Volume 69, Number 3 (July-August 2017)

July-August 2017 (Volume 69, Number 3)

For this special issue, MR has invited some of the most profound left thinkers in the world to reflect on the legacy of revolutions and counterrevolutions around the world since 1917. Naturally, these authors do not all offer similar perspectives or come to the same conclusions. Nor should they—the historical issues are too complex and the human stakes are too high.… | more…

Children of the poor celebrate the first anniversary of the October revolution

The October Revolution and the Survival of Capitalism

The October Revolution was the first such event in human history that was theoretically conceived and executed according to a plan. It is this theoretical comprehension of the underlying historical conjuncture that explains the revolution’s sweep and energy, the profound changes it wrought in the world, and the extent to which it threatened the very existence of capitalism.… | more…

New this week!
Petrograders examine campaign posters for elections to the Constituent Assembly

The Great Struggle to Escape Capitalism

Post-revolutionary societies, in their efforts to combat counterrevolution, have always been confronted with their own contradictions, and with the persistent threat that an exploiting class could reemerge. Instead of the intended socialization and democratization, in many places what resulted was instead state ownership and stultifying bureaucratization of both the economy and the polity.… | more…

Demonstrators supporting the Constituent Assembly on Palace Square

As the World Turned Upside Down

Left Intellectuals in Yugoslavia, 1988–90

This article will be made available online on July 24.

Throughout Eastern Europe, there was an unleashing of pent-up questions, hopes, and fears brewing for decades. There was a sense that the ground was trembling underneath these experiments in socialism. It was clear to most of us that socialism could only survive through radical democratization.… | more…

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Postcard depicting heroes of the October revolution in Petrograd

The Western Left and the Russian Revolution

This article will be made available online on July 31.

For a century, the counterrevolutionary reaction to the events of October 1917 has arguably been the most determining ideological factor in Western politics. Today the victory of that counterrevolution is complete, but Western powers still need their inherited antithesis, in changing form, as self-justification.… | more…

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Presidium of the Second Northern Oblast Congress of Soviets

Bertrand Russell and the Socialism That Wasn’t

This article will be made available online on August 7.

Russell was both a liberal and a socialist, a combination perfectly comprehensible in his time, but almost unthinkable today. As a liberal, he opposed concentrations of power in all its military, governmental, and religious manifestations. But as a socialist, he equally opposed the concentrations of power stemming from the private ownership of the means of production, which therefore had to be put under social control.… | more…

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The Soviet delegation arrives at Brest-Litovsk. Lev Trotsky is in the center surrounded by German officers

Fake News on Russia and Other Official Enemies

The New York Times, 1917–2017

This article will be made available online on August 14.

Mainstream media outlets have recently expressed their dismay over the rise and spread of “fake news,” taking it as an obvious truth that what they themselves provide is straightforward, unbiased, fact-based reporting. They do offer such news, but they also provide a steady flow of false or misleading information, often supplied by the national security state, other branches of government, and sites of corporate power.… | more…

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Desertification

An Eco-Revolutionary Tipping Point?

Global Warming, the Two Climate Denials, and the Environmental Proletariat

To solve the climate crisis, we need a system in which working people and their communities collectively and democratically regulate production and other interactions with their material and social environment. To deny that this crisis is hardwired into capitalism, and that we need a new system to deal with it, is just as misleading and dangerous as to deny the existence of human-induced global warming.… | more…

Trump 1984

Trump’s America

Rethinking 1984 and Brave New World

With the rise of Donald Trump, U.S. politics has descended, like never before, into a theater of the absurd. Unbridled anti-intellectualism, deception, and “vindictive chaos” recall a morally reprehensible past in the guise of “making America great again.” But despite his populist posturing, Trump’s contempt for democratic processes is matched by his commitment to economic policies that favor the financial elite.… | more…

Montagnais and Nasquapee Lodges at Seven Islands

Nature, Labor, and the Rise of Capitalism

Capitalism was a radical break with the past: for the first time, production of basic goods was driven by the accumulation of wealth for its own sake, and not primarily to satisfy human needs. Likewise, we are alienated from the natural world, as the products of our own labor are no longer under our control. Our very perception of nature is shaped by an economic system that treats “the environment” as a collection of commodities to be exploited.… | more…