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Karl Marx's tomb

A Commodius Vicus of Recirculation

Encountering Marx and Joyce

This article will be released in full online March 22, 2021.

“In the mid-1990s, when I lived in central London, I used to walk past the British Museum nearly every day. More often than not, I would pop in, did so for years, getting thrilled by a couple of things. The first was entering the great Reading Room, for which I had a Reader’s Card, glimpsing and even sitting in space G-7. I never ordered any books, had no need to order anything; all I wanted was to sit there, in Karl Marx’s seat, and try to feel the vibe. Usually, there was no vibe, only the hushed shuffling and page turning of others close by, mixed with the odd cough and splutter.” | more…

A demonstration in Oporto in April 25, 1983

What We Recovered in the Revolution

Álvaro Cunhal's Five Days, Five Nights

This article will be released in full online March 29, 2021.

A prolific political writer, Álvaro Cunhal—leader of Portugal’s Communist Party for half a century and central figure of the 1974 Carnation Revolution—revealed in 1994 that he had also written several novels under the pseudonym Manuel Tiago. One of these novels, Five Days, Five Nights, was only translated into and published in English in 2020. The novella manages to capture the complexities, loneliness, and bravery of ordinary people, highlighting how we are the ones who keep us safe. | more…

British Indian Empire

The Drain of Wealth

Colonialism before the First World War

The Western European powers appropriated economic surplus from their colonies, materially and substantially aiding their own industrial transition from the eighteenth century onward, as well as the diffusion of capitalism to the regions of new European settlement. In the case of India, the concept of drain is based on the fact that a substantial part of its earnings was never permitted to accrue to the country; it was instead appropriated by the ruling power: Britain. | more…

Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia by Alexander Bogdanov

Red Star

Coexistence in Alexander Bogdanov's Utopia

Alexander Bogdanov’s Red Star, published in 1908, was an attempt to reenergize the dejected revolutionaries whose efforts had been crushed during the 1905 Russian Revolution. The protagonist, Leonid, is a Russian revolutionary chosen, in the midst of the revolution, by the Martian expedition to visit their planet and learn about the centuries-old advanced form of communism there. Since the triumph of communism in Russia was the cause to which Leonid had decided to devote his life, he agrees to visit Mars so that he can absorb their ideas and principles. | more…

Disability rights activist outside Scottish Parliament, 30 March 2013

Disability and Welfare under Monopoly Capitalism

A historical-materialist analysis of the relationship between disability, the body, welfare, and capitalism is needed in order to further develop a Marxist understanding of disability. In this framework, we can see how the British welfare state, given recent changes to British disability policy, determines who is able-bodied and who is disabled, with this evaluation made in regard to the needs of monopoly capitalism. | more…

Socialist Register 2021: Beyond Digital Capitalism: New Ways of Living

Every year since 1964, the Socialist Register has offered a fascinating survey of movements and ideas from the independent new left. This year’s edition asks readers to explore just how we need to live with new technologies. Essays in this 57th Socialist Register reveal the contradictions and dislocations of technological change in the twenty-first century. And they explore alternative ways of living: from artificial intelligence (AI) to the arts, from transportation to fashion, from environmental science to economic planning. | more…

People line up to vote in the European elections at the Central Station in Amsterdam, Netherlands May 23, 2019

The Elephant in the Room

Left Parties and the European Union

European left parties have, over the last couple of decades, become increasingly critical of political developments in the European Union, particularly as a response to the austerity policies that followed the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the subsequent euro crisis. These were accompanied by high and sustained unemployment and promises of a social pillar that never materialized. Nevertheless, even if criticism of the European Union has sharpened, this has not been well reflected in the political strategies of the left. | more…

The Political Economy of Growth

Paul Baran’s Economic Surplus Concept, the Baran Ratio, and the Decline of Feudalism

Recently published and estimated historical data illustrate that economic surplus declined during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in England, helping explain the “crisis of feudalism” that started in the thirteenth century. It was not until several centuries later, when capitalism became the dominant economic system, that the economic surplus began to rise on a consistent basis, due to the reinvestment of a portion of the surplus into productive activities, a greater ratio of capital income to rental income, and a greater ratio of investment to economic surplus. | more…

Crisis and Predation: India, COVID-19, and Global Finance

Crisis and Predation: India, COVID-19, and Global Finance

With the advent of COVID-19, India’s rulers imposed the world’s most stringent lockdown on an already depressed economy, dealing a body blow to the majority of India’s billion-plus population. Yet the Indian government’s spending to cushion the lockdown’s economic impact ranked among the world’s lowest in GDP terms, resulting in unprecedented unemployment and hardship. Crisis and Predation shows how this tight-fistedness stems from the fact that global financial interests oppose any sizable expansion of public spending by India, and that Indian rulers readily adhere to their guidance. Meanwhile, under the banner of reviving private investment, India’s rulers have planned giant privatizations, and drastically revised laws concerning industrial labor, the peasantry, and the environment—in favor of large capital. | more…

Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading "Capital" in Precarious Times

Marx, Dead and Alive: Reading “Capital” in Precarious Times

Karl Marx saw the ruling class as a sorcerer, no longer able to control the ominous powers it has summoned from the netherworld. Today, in an age spawning the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, our society has never before been governed by so many conjuring tricks, with collusions and conspiracies, fake news and endless sleights of the economic and political hand. And yet, contends Andy Merrifield, as our modern lives become ever more mist-enveloped, the works of Marx can help us penetrate the fog. In Marx, Dead and Alive—a book that begins and ends beside Marx’s recently violated London graveside—Merrifield makes a spirited case for a critical thinker who can still offer people a route toward personal and social authenticity. | more…

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