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A 19th-century illustration depicts a scene off the coast of Peru, where bird poop, or guano, was harvested

The Robbery of Nature

Capitalism and the Metabolic Rift

Marx’s notion of “the robbery of the soil” is intrinsically connected to the rift in the metabolism between human beings and the earth. To get at the complexities of his metabolic rift theory, it is useful to look separately at the issues of the robbery and the rift, seen as separate moments in a single development. | more…

Monster soup commonly called Thames water, being a correct representation of that precious stuff doled out to us!

Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder

Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London

The accumulation of human excrement in nineteenth-century cities, particularly London, precipitated a historic environmental crisis—an aspect of the metabolic rift mostly overlooked in ecosocialist analysis. The solution that was finally adopted only shifted the problem out of sight, setting the stage for even greater crises in our time. | more…

New this week!
New this week!
The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

The Russians Are Coming, Again: The First Cold War as Tragedy, the Second as Farce

Karl Marx famously wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that history repeats itself, “first as tragedy, then as farce.” The Cold War, waged between the United States and Soviet Union from 1945 until the latter's dissolution in 1991, was a great tragedy, resulting in millions of civilian deaths in proxy wars, and a destructive arms race that diverted money from social spending and nearly led to nuclear annihilation. The New Cold War between the United States and Russia is playing out as farce—a dangerous one at that. The Russians Are Coming, Again is a red flag to restore our historical consciousness about U.S.-Russian relations, and how denying this consciousness is leading to a repetition of past follies. | more…

Romans during the Decadence

Revolution or Decadence?

Thoughts on the Transition between Modes of Production on the Occasion of the Marx Bicentennial

Revolution is still on the agenda for the global periphery. Restorations in the course of socialist transition are not irrevocable—and in the weak links of the center, breaks in the imperialist front are not inconceivable. | more…

Black protest in Krakow

Behind the ‘Black Protests’

The Struggle for Abortion Rights in Poland

In October 2016, cities across Poland were seized by massive demonstrations against proposals for a total ban on abortion. Whatever their ultimate outcome, the protests prove that mass mobilizations are possible in today’s Poland, and that the right’s political and cultural hegemony may yet be more fragile than it appears. | more…

Section of the Diego Rivera's mural "From the conquest to 1930" focusing on Marx and the class struggle

The Multiple Meanings of Marx’s Value Theory

The Marxian critique of political economy is inseparable from the “labor theory of value.” But what exactly does this theory mean? This article considers Marx’s value theory from five perspectives: as a monetary value theory, a theory of exploitation, a macro-monetary theory of capitalist production, a theory of individual prices, and a theory of crises. | more…

Culture as Politics: Selected Writings of Christopher Caudwell

Considered by many to be the most innovative British Marxist writer of the twentieth century, Christopher Caudwell was killed in the Spanish Civil War at the age of 29. Although already a published writer of aeronautic texts and crime fiction, he was practically unknown to the public until reviews appeared of Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry, which was published just after his death. A strikingly original study of poetry’s role, it explained in clear language how the organizing of emotion in society plays a part in social change and development. Culture as Politics introduces Caudwell’s work through his most accessible and relevant writing. Material will be drawn from Illusion and Reality, Studies in a Dying Culture and his essay, “Heredity and Development.” | more…

In the Name of Women’s Rights: The Rise of Femonationalism book cover

Patriarchies East and West

Sara Farris’s In the Name of Women’s Rights is a brave monograph that analyzes the way that the discourses of Europe’s right-wing nationalists, government agencies, and liberal feminists converge in their representations of Muslim and non-western immigrant women, relegating these communities to commodified spheres of social reproductive work. | more…

Navigating the Zeitgeist

Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism

Forthcoming in January 2019

Why would an American girl-child, born into a good, Irish-Catholic family in the thick of the McCarthy era—a girl who, when she came of age, entered a convent—morph into an atheist, feminist, and Marxist? The answer is in Helena Sheehan’s fascinating account of her journey from her 1940s and 1950s beginnings, into the turbulent 1960s, when the Vietnam War, black power, and women’s liberation rocked her bedrock assumptions and prompted a volley of life-upending questions—questions shared by millions of young people of her generation. But, for Helena Sheehan, the increasingly radicalized answers deepened through the following decades. | more…

A Socialist Defector

A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee

Forthcoming in February 2019

The circumstances that impelled Victor Grossman, a U.S. Army draftee stationed in Europe, to flee a military prison sentence were the icy pressures of the McCarthy Era. Grossman—a.k.a. Steve Wechsler, a committed leftist since his years at Harvard and, briefly, as a factory worker—left his barracks in Bavaria one August day in 1952, and, in a panic, swam across the Danube River from the Austrian U.S. Zone to the Soviet Zone. Fate—i.e., the Soviets—landed him in East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic. There he remained, observer and participant, husband and father, as he watched the rise and successes, the travails, and the eventual demise of the GDR socialist experiment. | more…

Karl Marx and the Birth of Modern Society

Karl Marx and the Birth of Modern Society: The Life of Marx and the Development of His Work (Volume I: 1818-1841)

Forthcoming in February 2019

For over a century, Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism has been a crucial resource for social movements. Now, recent economic crises have made it imperative for us to comprehend and actualize Marx’s ideas. But without a knowledge of Karl Marx’s life as he lived it, neither Marx nor his works can be fully understood. There are more than twenty-five comprehensive biographies of Marx, but none of them consider his life and work in equal, corresponding measure. This biography, planned for three volumes, aims to include what most biographies have reduced to mere background: the contemporary conflicts, struggles, and disputes that engaged Marx at the time of his writings, alongside his complex relationships with a varied assortment of friends and opponents. | more…

Rethinking Democracy: Socialist Register 2018

Socialist Register 2018: Rethinking Democracy

For years, intellectuals have argued that, with the triumph of capitalist, liberal democracy, the Western World has reached “the end of history.” Recently, however, there has been a rise of authoritarian politics in many countries. Concepts of post-democracy, anti-politics, and the like are gaining currency in theoretical and political debate. Now that capitalist democracies are facing seismic and systemic challenges, it becomes increasingly important to investigate not only the inherent antagonism between liberalism and the democratic process, but also socialism. Is socialism an enemy of democracy? Could socialism develop, expand, even enhance democracy? | more…

Alan Arkin in "The Russians are Coming The Russians are Coming"

The Russians Are Coming, Again

The present Russia panic follows an entire century of fearmongering and “threat inflation,” dating to the Russian Revolution, that has long served the interests of the U.S. military-industrial complex and security state. It has had little to do with either Russian or American realities, which have been consistently distorted. | more…